Where To Watch The Boat Race In Richmond Borough

To the disappointment of many tourists, the race does not start from Oxford and end in Cambridge, but runs 4.2 miles from Putney to Mortlake.

And as you can see from the map below, more than half of the race takes place on the River alongside Richmond Borough – from Hammersmith Bridge to Chiswick Bridge.


The race starts at 4.30pm and the two boats take about 18 minutes to reach the finish.

Hammersmith Bridge is an excellent viewpoint in both directions, but it gets incredible busy so the chances are that you’ll only be able to see in one direction.   Arguably its more exciting to face Putney, but Richmond loyalists would only ever watch upstream towards Mortlake.  Based on history, the first boat to reach this point has an 80% chance of winning, although in the last 6 years its actually been 50/50.

There’s also going to be a big screen displaying the race in Furnivall Gardens on the Hammersmith bank with entertainment, food and drink.

St Paul’s School Boathouse is possibly the closest you’ll get to the competitors on the course, to a point where you could find yourself standing in the water as they pass.  I’ve never been there but I think that its public access.  And of course this is where the 2012 race was disrupted when Trenton Oldfield put on a wetsuit and swam between the boats.

As Lonsdale Road becomes The Terrace and then Mortlake High Street there are plenty of places to stand by the side of the road and watch – and many do this with a beer in hand.  If you do choose to stand there please be careful on both sides of the path – the river and the road.

Barnes Railway Bridge should be a good viewing point towards Hammersmith (as the footbridge is only on one side of the railway tracks) but we think it’s closed on Race Day – probably because it connects to Duke’s Meadows where many watch from the other side.

There are a few access points down to the River just before the Stag Brewery.

The Ship pub has an amazing location by the finish line and as you can imagine is bursting at the seams from the moment the doors open.  I’m writing this on Friday so I suggest that you head that way now.

But another good view of the finish is definitely Chiswick Bridge.   As with everywhere on the route it gets very busy, but its probably the least accessible bridge on the route by public transport so if you’re local you have an advantage.

Make sure you face the right way as the boats finish before they go under the Bridge, and stay around for a few minutes after the race as  it’s traditional for the winning team to throw their cox into the water – a great photo opportunity.

Finally, whatever the weather forecast – dress very warmly.