... It was a rough life, and bred rough people.
From about 1555 watermen between Windsor and Gravesend were licensed and after 1585 the Company of Watermen & Lightermen introduced a one year apprenticeship, extended to seven years in 1603. This encouraged dynastic succession: the Goose, Love, Blower and Hammerton families in Twickenham and Teddington were connected with the river for generations, as was the Benn family in Hampton.
With the coming of better roads and the railways, river traffic declined. There was a further challenge: steamers, able to carry large numbers of passengers more quickly. In response, watermen banded together to form their own steam packet company. Waterman I was the first of a series of fast packets which were put into service between 1840 and 1844.