Armband badge of the Watermans' Company, with inscription " Free Waterman, at command of our superiors, 5634", c1820Watery business : Licensed watermen worked on London’s ‘silent highway’, the Thames. They were issued with badges called ‘brassards’ by the Watermen’s Company, which had to be worn sewn onto a coat sleeve. Watermen had a reputation as hustlers, and unwary passengers could be taken for a ride in more ways than one.
The river was the fastest way to navigate central London in the early 1800s, but it could be a risky journey.
See this object and other related objects from within the 19th century London gallery