The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : People at Play

Houseboats and Regattas
Houseboats were numerous in Hampton and regattas provided entertainment

A regatta at Teddington Reach

The Hampton stretch of the Thames was a very popular base for houseboats, mainly because of the ease with which it could be reached by train from London: the railway arrived at Hampton Court in 1849 and Hampton in 1864. Later, in 1903, the trams arrived. The houseboats, mainly used as weekend retreats or during the summer for holidays, were clustered around Tagg’s Island with more just below the Hampton Court Bridge, on the Surrey bank. Houseboats still surround Tagg’s Island today, although they have become permanent homes.

Regattas provided an outlet for competitive rowing in the area. In addition there were light-hearted events involving aquatic sports that were also described as regattas. The Twickenham Rowing Club was founded in 1860 and soon started organising regattas and other events. On the lighter side, the Twickenham Boys’ and Girls’ Regatta was founded by Charlie Shore in 1894. It was a popular event until the Second World War. Even though Charlie Shore died in 1911, his portrait (with his distinctive beard and straw hat) continued to form a set piece in the firework display that, by established custom concluded the day.

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