15 March 2024

Terrible Thames: what to expect

Returning for another season of foul facts about our country’s horrible history, the Terrible Thames river tour sets sail from Tower Bridge Quay from 23 March 2024. Following three successful years of cruising along the Thames river and sharing some of its more grisly stories, the tour is set to delight new audiences with its exuberant style and cheeky humour. But what should you expect from the tour?

History at its most horrible

True to the format set by the sensationally popular Horrible Histories books, Terrible Thames leaves the nasty bits of London’s past firmly in place. Two actors from a rotating cast of nine are onboard with you, one playing a teacher and the other taking the role of Billy, the unruly student who has a surprising breadth of knowledge about the Thames. The audience is part of the school trip, and on the way you’ll learn about some of the capital’s most celebrated landmarks. Key historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Boudicca, Guy Fawks and Henry VIII are sketched out, and an array of events is covered, from gruesome hangings to games of football on the frozen river. Get ready for tales of piracy, treason and revolution!

The host of surprising facts and figures is delivered with precision and vigour, and a few contemporary quips are dropped in too. There are also some sea shanties, plenty of jokes and a splash of audience participation. Things take a more serious turn at times, notably during the discussion of London’s involvement in the slave trade and the account of Ignatius Sancho, a writer and abolitionist who was the first Black person to vote in Britain. You’ll finish the trip with a rousing rendition of “What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor?” for which audience participation is encouraged.

Sights include the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the Shard and the Tate Modern. Whether you’re a Londoner or a tourist, you’re sure to learn something new.

The practicalities

The Terrible Thames tours depart from Tower Bridge Quay (not to be confused with Tower Bridge Pier) at 9.45am and 3.45pm. Those travelling by public transport can reach it from Tower Hill Tube station or by using the 15 and 100 bus routes. The season kicks off on 23 March and runs until 1 September 2024, with cruises taking place during school holidays and on selected weekdays for school groups - you can view availability when booking. Tours last around 45 minutes and drop you back at Tower Bridge Quay at the end.

Audience members of all ages are welcome, but children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Children aged 0-3 are free if they sit on the lap of a parent. You are welcome to bring snacks and drinks on board.

If you’re looking for a boat tour that offers something out of the ordinary, don’t miss the Terrible Thames tour. Book your tickets with KX Tickets today.