Harold Pinchbeck at the 2017 Race for Doggett's Coat & Badge.

Tuesday (25th July) was a great day: the annual Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge!

It’s been held on the Thames every year since 1715, making it the oldest such event in the world; many say it’s one of London’s best-kept secrets. Harold Pinchbeck have the honour of being Official watchmakers to the Race. It’s an unusual title, and we have the pleasure of presenting a special watch - one of the limited edition Lambeth Reaches - to each year’s winner.

HRH The Princess Royal with race winner Jack Keech, receiving his watch (centre), presented by Paul Pinchbeck (2nd from left).

HRH The Princess Royal with race winner Jack Keech, receiving his watch (centre), presented by Paul Pinchbeck (2nd from left).

Two of the ancient City of London livery companies are closely associated with the race. It’s organised by the Fishmongers’ Company, and the Company of Watermen and Lightermen are involved, as the competitors are apprentice Watermen. This year there were four entrants in the single scull rowing event, the course of which runs nearly 4½ miles from Tower Bridge to Cadogan Pier at Chelsea.

The 2017 winner was 22-year old Jack Keech, from Hextable. Jack comes from a family of proud Doggett’s competitors, as his father entered twice, and his three cousins are former winners. He completed the race in 25 minutes and 10 seconds.

Race winner Jack Keech, a moving moment as he is congratulated by family.

Race winner Jack Keech, a moving moment as he is congratulated by family.

The stamina, skill and dedicated training of all four rowers made the race look far easier than it was; in fact, they looked almost relaxed at the end! Our small party followed the race from the comfort of the spectator boat: a wonderful ride along the Thames, cheering the competitors and waving to spectators as we passed under eleven bridges and saw many wonderful buildings.

HRH The Princess Royal with Paul Pinchbeck, ready to present the winners watch.

HRH The Princess Royal with Paul Pinchbeck, ready to present the winners watch.

Back at Fishmongers’ Hall the winners were presented to HRH The Princess Royal, who handed Jack Keech his champagne, before he received his prize watch from Paul Pinchbeck. The event concluded with the customary splendid lunch in the Hall. The watch will now be engraved with Jack’s name, so he will be presented with it again in November at a grand Livery Dinner, when he will appear wearing the full splendour of his well-deserved Doggett’s Coat and Badge.


All images © The Fishmongers’ Company.