Photo: Hydar Dewachi

Watermen's Hall & the McCarthy Family

Watermen’s Hall was built in 1780, but the Company of Watermen dates back to 1555 when it was established to regulate the carrying of passengers by boat on the River Thames. Apprenticeships have been offered throughout time, and today the Company continues to support the development of skilled river workers, providing training and apprenticeships for the Boatmaster’s Licence.


The Company of Watermen and Lightermen dates as far back as 1514, and is represented by this coat of arms. © Company of Watermen and Lightermen


Simon McCarthy © Hydar Dewachi
Simon McCarthy is currently Master of the Company. The McCarthy family have a long and rich history of working on the river, stretching back four generations. Winning the prestigious Doggett’s Coat and Badge has become something of a tradition for the McCarthys', with Simon succeeding in 1984, his brother Jeremy in 1992 and his son Harry in 2015.


Harry, Jeremy and Simon McCarthy © Hydar Dewachi

Simon has rowed in the World Championships and has coached Olympic teams. Still, he states: "Doggett’s wasn’t the hardest race I’ve rowed…but it was definitely the most difficult. It’s the most scared I’ve ever been, sitting on the start line, because it was for my family rather than me"

Simon believes his Doggett’s win opened lots of doors for his life on the river. He became the Rowing Officer for the Company, and then the Queen’s Waterman, before being made Master of the Company in 2017.

Through his work at the Company, and for London Youth Rowing, Simon McCarthy is determined to keep the traditions and legacy of Doggett’s alive. Rowing on the Thames has changed significantly in recent decades, but Simon is working to ensure that all young Londoners have access to training and that competitive rowing is an inclusive sport.


Past Master Robert Crouch outside Watermen's Hall © Hydar Dewachi