London’s boatyards have an significant place in the history of the River Thames, once known as the ‘greatest shipbuilding area in the world’. One hundred and fifty years ago, nearly fifteen thousand men were working in shipbuilding in the Isle of Dogs alone, with hundreds of boat and barge yards operating along the shores of the Thames. Today only around fifteen boatyards remain between the Thames Barrier and Teddington Lock, due to the decline in the commercial river and rising land prices on the riverfront.
The living history of London's boatyards from Tough’s boatyard in Teddington to Cory Riverside Energy in Charlton have been captured and documented in this heritage project through oral history interviews, a documentary film, photography commission and archive materials. Working River is a Thames Festival Trust project delivered in partnership with the Museum of London, Digital:Works and a team of volunteers.