Thames Festival Trust’s “Working River” Multi-media Heritage Project is Online 

The Thames Festival Trust runs the annual Totally Thames festival and has engaged with 110,000 children and young people, commissioned 506 art projects and engaged with 460 organisations to increase access to river-inspired arts, culture and heritage. 


Mark Edwards – Boatbuilder. Source: Thames Festival Trust

“Working River”, created with volunteers and in partnership with Museum of London, is a celebration of the “living history” of boatyards on the Thames.  This was a huge industry 150 years ago with hundreds of yards employing nearly fifteen thousand people. Now reduced to only 15 yards between Teddington and the Thames Barrier, these remaining working boatyards have been documented digitally, with oral history interviews, documentary film, commissioned photography and digitised archive materials. 


The surviving heritage yards featured are at Teddington, Swan Island, Eel Pie Island, Richmond, Isleworth, Brentford, Lots Ait, Wapping, Rotherhithe, Blackwall and Greenwich, including a barge maintenance and repair yard at Bugsby’s Reach, run by Cory Riverside Energy. Cory was founded in 1785 as a general lighterage business, and a century later was mostly transporting coal for industrial and domestic consumption. After the Clean Air Act of 1956 the company switched to barge transport of oil, and subsequently waste.


External Sources

Thames Festival Trust, 2018.  “Working River” heritage project.