Doggett's coat and badge race

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The year 1716 witnessed the first race for Doggett's coat and badge, rowed by six young watermen who had just completed their apprenticeship.

Doggett, who was a well known Irish comedian, joint manager of the Drury Lane Theatre, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Hanoverian dynasty, left a certain sum in trust for the purchase of the prize, an "orange" coloured coat with a silver badge on which the horse of the House of Hanover was embossed.

The race was from Old Swan Stairs, by London Bridge, to the Old Swan at Chelsea. Thomas Doggett, who was also something of a dramatist, died in 1721, but the race is still contested today.

Next page: Regulation of the watermen