The History Of Canterbury Historic River Tours Visitor Attraction

As with many cities, Canterbury was founded and thrived because of its river. As this is where the River Stour forms a series of islands, it was the easiest place for the Romans to find a crossing on their travel from the Continent to London. The river has always played an important part in the City of Canterbury's growth, initially providing drinking water and a food source and later the power for the city's growing mill and weaving industries. Flooding has often been a problem for the residents of Canterbury, from the times of the Romans to more recently when the floodgates at one end of the river were installed.

Old photograph of the river tour

On the 26th of March, 1932 the first river tour departed from the Black Friars Monastery under the name ‘Canterbury Friars Ferry' with local residents and dignitaries gathering to celebrate the event. Mr. A. Coole, the official city guide said that “the object of the ferry service is to show visitors to the city some of the Canterbury beauty spots from an entirely new angle”. The Kent Gazetter covered the inauguration of the event, and was officially opened by the Hon. Mrs. Hardcastle and her husband The Archdeacon Hardcastle who believed the tour would be popular in the summer months having seen similar tours in other parts of the country. Boatman Able Seaman Brice, who had recently retired from The Royal Navy, led the first tour dressed in a traditional Nelson's sailor uniform.