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The arrival of steamboats in 1819 and steam launches rendered the small Wherry, with its limited capacity, obsolete for mass public transport use, often the heavy wash from steamers rocked or sank thenk and frightened potential passengers away (See Bar279, The Nobby Waterman and Bar112, The Excursion to Putney). A fragment entitled "Gaieties of Greenwich" is held in the same British Library volume on the page facing this song. In part it reads: "The fly or go-cart famed for the numerous robberies that took place in them during the war, still lingers 'down the line' doomed shortly to fade before the iron grasp of the railroad in its march to Dover.....On the river a similar change has taken place skiffs wherries and other small fry have so-to-speak been boiled by steam" The watermen realised that opposition to the steamers was futile and in 1840 they formed the Waterman's Steam Packet Company with a fleet of 12 fast packets (thus dating this song to 1840 or soon after). Their strongest rival at the time was the Woolwich Steam Packet Company (established 1834).

 

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