London and the Thames have a long and winding history. Now, you can experience the highs and lows with a new Horrible Histories boat tour.
Over 45 minutes, the two-person cast regale the audience about the gruesome goings-on that have occurred on the river over the past 2,000 years. From King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Julius Caesar, the Duke of Wellington, Queen Boudicca, Jack the Ripper and Captain Kidd, this is a great history of the Thames with the nasty bits left in.
Sailing daily from Tower Bridge Quay, your show will feature cast members from the Birmingham Stage Company who bring the relentless facts and figures of the past to life.
If there’s any caveat, this is a tour best enjoyed with child aged around six to 12. The set-up is a naughty London school pupil who is taken on a class trip by his teacher. And along the way, they share the historical oddities while taking many light-hearted digs at each other. Props are minimal – but their voices are loud and clear.
If you’re a parent, there’s no doubt you’ve caught a few episodes of Horrible Histories on the BBC or read one of their books. It continues along the same vein with lots of poop jokes, mixed in with the very real and often shockingly poor behaviour of our rulers, past and present. Who, I can assure you, did poop judging by the sewage outlets pointed out in Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London.
I sailed with my trusty 10-year-old daughter at my side. And I can confirm that she enjoyed it immensely (many giggles) having studied many of these events in her school curriculum and occasionally joined in the songs and merriment.
A few stories stood out. From the era of Captain Kidd, the tales of pirates being hung, drawn and quartered at Execution Dock were both new and grimly fascinating to me. As it’s the furthest eastward point along the river tour, it provides an interesting counterpoint to the Thames’ role in importing slaves from Africa which was the only time the humour was – justifiably – set aside.
In addition, the stories about crime on the river (not just the daily events at the Palace of Westminster) were remarkable, including the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 that saw the Savoy Palace destroyed and the hanging of Vatican banker Robert Calvi from Blackfriars Bridge in 1982.
Due to Covid, capacity is reduced to 120 people per trip – and everyone is on the top deck of the boat out in the fresh air. So, bring an umbrella if the weather looks troublesome. The tour has also been awarded Visit Britain’s ‘Good to Go’ certification which should reassure you that appropriate Covid-19 processes are in place.
Tickets are £22 (Adults from 15+), £14 (children 4-14) and infants (0-3) are free. Family and group tickets are available.
Times and more details at www.terriblethames.com