Since 1715, the Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge has been passionately rowed by apprentice river workers on the Thames. It is believed to be the oldest continually competed sporting event in the world. Despite its fascinating history, little of Doggett’s is documented and it has long been overshadowed by the much more famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.

In 2018 Thames Festival Trust delved into a tradition passed down through generations of Thames watermen using recorded oral histories, photographic portraits by Hydar Dewachi, and 100 years of archive material made publicly accessible for the first time. The World’s Oldest Boat Race brings to life this hidden history at the heart of London. It encompasses stories of family pride and family rivalry, and a passion that kept Doggett’s race alive through two World Wars, a schism between ‘gentlemen amateur’ and ‘professional’ rowers, the decline of the docks and a fast-changing capital.

Historic photo on men rowing on the Thames

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Since 1715, the Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge has been passionately rowed by apprentice river workers on the Thames. It is believed to be the oldest continually competed sporting event in the world. Despite its fascinating history, little of Doggett’s is documented and it has long been overshadowed by the much more famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.

This film brings to life a hidden history at the very heart of London, passed down through generations of Thames Waterman.  We follow Alfie and George in the lead up to the 2018 race, and interview past winners and competitors who tell us the coveted race's history and the fierce rivalries and family traditions that have ensured it has continued for so many years.

This film is part of the Thames Festival Trust's heritage project The World's Oldest Boat Race. 

This film was made by Chocolate Films, and was commissioned and produced by the Thames Festival Trust.

Explore the fascinating history and traditions of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames.

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