On the Waterfront: Watermen were hardy types

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THE term waterman probably originates from medieval times, when it was used to describe boatmen who rowed or sculled for a living by transporting passengers or goods by river.

On the Wear, it would have applied to those who operated ferries or brought coal downriver by keel.

Later, the expression became a more general label for anyone working on the water, but with opening of South Dock by Sunderland Dock Company in 1850 and its subsequent transfer to the River Wear Commissioners (RWC) in 1859, a new breed of waterman was born.

 

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