Time and Tide

The Life of a Thames Waterman

Publication Date15th July 2010

Book FormatPaperback





The remarkable autobiography of a Thames Waterman
Regular Price £18.99 Online Price: £17.09
Availability: In stock
Joseph John William Gaster (Jack), was born within the chimes of the Bow Bells in August 1923. A true cockney who grew up with a love for the water, gaining an apprenticeship for the Worshipful Company of Watermen and Lightermen when only a few days past his 14th birthday. Virtually his whole working life was on the River Thames, working on tugs from those early days as a 14-year-old apprentice, through the war, the post-war decline for the London docks, joining the police to serve 24 years as a Police Officer, (22 in Thames Division) then eight years piloting the scientifc launch for Thames Water. At the age of 64 Jack set up his own business, still on that boat for Thames Water, with his wife Phyllis as book-keeper and a grandson as apprentice after a while. In his 55 years of work, some 49 were on the River.

His time away from the Thames was mainly in Royal Navy, where he became on of the youngest ever sub-lieutenants in the Commandos, in preparation for the D-Day landings, where he was assistant Beachmaster at Arromanches , where the biggest temporary harbor was built, he was still only 20-years-old.

After the Normandy invasion, Jack joined the Rescue Tug Service, mainly on an ocean going tug, called the Enigma, including a tow of a floating dock from Scotland to Singapore. Jack has an absolute passion for the Thames, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the buildings and structures alongside it. In his latter years he had the pleasure of meeting heads of state from this and other countries, enthralling them with his insight of the Thames.
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