Sunday, July 07, 2024

Question from Rebecca - River boats and harbors in Tudor times

Hello! I'm looking for information about what types of boats would have been used in rivers during the 16th century, and what river harbors outside London would have looked like. Any info or resources you can share would be greatly appreciated!

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

Wow! First question in over 19 months!

Your topic is a rather obscure one, Rebecca, and that necessarily limits the amount of information available. Historical studies of rivers, river ports, and river vessels are more extensive for later periods ... the 18th and 19th centuries. Even then, studies tend to be focused on specific rivers, like the Severn and the Wye.

A quick look at the subscription-only database Bibliography of British and Irish History indicates that the majority of the existing studies, regardless of the historical period, are to be found in the publications of local historical societies or those published by highly specialized interest groups. Examples include Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, and Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.

Book titles on the subject listed in the BBIH include Herefordshire's River Trade: Craft & Cargo on the Wye & Lugg by Heather Hurley (no indication given of the time period covered) and Barges and Bargemen: A Social History of the Upper Severn Navigation, 1660-1900 by Barrie Stuart Trinder (note the later time period).

There is a goodly bit of material on the River Thames as a waterway and port and on the Thames watermen who operated many of the vessels on the Thames in and around London. A simple subject search in any university library database for "Thames watermen" should provide a useful list.

Yours is a "new" topic that has not been explored much by historians, so you have the chance to be a "groundbreaker"! Best of luck with your research!