‘Thames talk’ interviews

What was it like to work on the river Thames in the middle of the twentieth century? This collection of eight interviews, conducted between 2004 and 2017 (and subsequently added to), provides a fascinating and detailed window into a bygone age. The recollections, taken from the employees of Salter Bros of Oxford and Hobbs of Henley, span almost a century of history (from 1930 to the present day), and help to shed light on some of the key individuals and relationships in this important Thames business, as well as what it was like working on the waterway, at a time when the job market was changing greatly.

Some of these recollections (and those of others) have already been featured in the book Pleasure Boating on the Thames and Hobbs of Henley: a History, but much of the detailed information within them remains unpublished until now.

Click on the links below to view the interviews:


  • Bryan Dunckley (skipper, 1942-1962 with part-time work thereafter), 17 August 2004
  • Bill Dunckley (skipper and engineer, who served from 1943/4-2018), 21 August 2004
  • Len Andrews (skipper, 1930-1959), 31 August 2004
  • Albert Andrews (skipper, 1936-1950 and, after being a university waterman, 1987-1992), 26 March 2005
  • Bill Dunckley (second interview), 3 March 2010
  • John Salter (owner/director, late 1960s-present), 20 December 2011
  • Richard Tyrrell (boat-builder, 1940-1949), 12 November 2015
  • Kenneth Strange (boat-builder, 1949-1954), 22 April 2017


NB: The transcripts have been edited to omit filler words (e.g. ‘um’ or ‘er’).  The Tyrrell and Strange interviews are audio files and they include a couple of interuptions.

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