Today well known Waterman and Lighterman Frank Wilson reached an impressive milestone of 100 years old and of course the day wouldn’t be complete without a birthday card from the Queen!

Frank with his 100th birthday card from the Queen

Born on 10th February 1921 he went to Farrance Street school at Limehouse. Upon leaving school Frank was apprenticed by his father Edward Yeoman Wilson in 1935 working as a Waterman and Lighterman on the River Thames.

In 1942 Frank joined the Royal Navy until being de-mobbed in 1945 as petty
officer and went to work as a waterman for T.How at Cherry Garden Pier.
and in 1946 he married Eileen Hurley.

In 1949 Frank formed his own company with his brother John piloting ships and was based at Wapping Pier and was well respected and known for his pilotage skills on the River Thames

In 1953 with the passing of Tom How – Frank moved his business to Cherry Garden Pier and went into business with Tom How’s son Dick Waterhouse

Frank as bridge pilot – smartly dressed
A short video of Frank Wilson speaking about pilotage in the early 1990’s

In 1972 Frank formed a passenger boat company named ‘River Functions Limited’ which was based at Cherry Garden pier and had his first boat built also named ‘Cherry Garden’ – this vessel now operates in Porto, Portugal

Cherry Garden when newly built

In 1974 Frank had another new vessel built by Thomas Hughen at Greenwich named Mayflower Garden and again was used for private charters/functions. This vessel still operates today on the River Thames for City Cruises

Frank Wilson at the helm of Mayflower Garden

In 1989 the company was sold to City Cruises – Paul Wilson and Gary and Rita Beckwith and in 1999 Frank retired from the river age 78

Happy Birthday Frank – 100 Today!