Pirates, Press-Gangs and Execution Dock

(47 customer reviews)

Tower Hill underground station, London (meet by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stand)

Guided by Dan Parry

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
20 July 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Summer
21 September 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Summer Reserve Online
12 October 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Summer Reserve Online
23 November 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter Reserve Online

Discover the dark side of the empire

Better still, discover it with a world-class guide…

This walk has stairs and cobbles. 

Find your sea-legs and sail into the past! Beneath the eerie cry of the gulls, we walk along the river from Dead Man’s Hole to Execution Dock, via ancient smugglers’ taverns where press-gangs dragged men off to sea. 

Exploring a salt-encrusted, maritime world that was the making of Britain’s empire, we step off the beaten track to discover a long-forgotten way of life – a time when rum-soaked buccaneers chased Spanish treasure ships, and Royal Navy crews fought criminal captains in the Golden Age of Piracy. 

Venturing through streets they knew and perhaps glimpsing the ghosts that still linger to this day, we walk from Tower Hill to St Katherine’s Dock. Then following the Thames, we eventually finish at London’s oldest riverside pub, where you’ll be able to enjoy a drink in wonderfully atmospheric surroundings.   

A family-friendly stroll – guided by Dan Parry, former BBC documentaries producer and author of the National Maritime Museum’s biography of Blackbeard – this is the most authentic pirates walk in London! 

In the beginning, there were stories of gold. Daring men, who lived, drank and fought beside London’s crowded wharves, sailed to the Caribbean in search of treasure. For some of them, we know their names, where they lived and what they seized along the way. 

Sailing as buccaneers, they had royal approval for their attacks on ships and towns. They included men like John Limbrey, who inspired the likes of Captain Morgan and later Blackbeard, and who commanded the Merchant Royal, laden with gold and silver that today would be worth $1.5 billion…if it were ever rediscovered. 

Later, such men were outlawed by the state and regarded as pirates. Captain Kidd, seized in Boston, was dragged back to London to be hanged at low tide on the banks of the river. We’ll take a look at Execution Dock, where Kidd met his end, as did many others, and where his body was swamped by three high tides before it was cut down. 

Other thieves stole riches closer to home. Before secure docks were built, ships lined up on the Thames waiting to unload. By 1800, thousands of river pirates, night plunderers, light horsemen, scuffle-hunters and mud larks were routinely raiding whatever they could find. 

We’ll take a spy-glass glance at all these renegades. We’ll discover how they became pirates, we’ll look at the risks they took, and encounter the people who pursued them. Along the way, we’ll meet the only man who stole the crown jewels, and maybe witness the ghost of the sinister Hanging Judge Jeffreys. Join us, and discover the dark side of the empire…! 

Here’s a scene-setter podcast about this walk.

47 reviews for Pirates, Press-Gangs and Execution Dock

  1. Julie Grant

    As other reviewers have applauded, Dan is a great storyteller with a niche knowledge – a great addition to the excellent London Walks repertoire.

  2. Barbara Ivanko

    We had only one day in London, and chose to spend it with Dan on the Pirate’s walk. He is a cheerful, entertaining expert, with great enthusiasm for his subject matter. Dan welcomed questions and had a great sense of humor. What a great day in one of the most scenic parts of London!

  3. Ana Maria

    Excellent storytelling of pitates time in the past denturies. Dan made it very entertaining and looking forward to hear more stories from jim

  4. Margaret Storr/Higginson

    I found the press gang/execution dock walk by Dan Perry very interesting since I live in the area.
    Dan brought to life the mood of the day, he was very entheusiastic and informative.
    I look forward to doing another walk with Dan

  5. Neil

    Great walk with lots of very detailed information – thoroughly recommend.

  6. Richard O’Brien

    lf your into Pirates, together with true stories of Blackbeard, Cpt kidd.,and the like then this is the tour for you! Dan…your guide will show you old Tavern’s, warehouses, old alleys along where pirates operated… together with stories of how they worked their trade. What l found most remarkable was how Dan remembered all the scores of dates, names, ships, etc…and made it into fabulous stories of times gone by….I was spellbound. Well done Dan, for a super afternoon, I enjoyed every minute.

  7. Susie Flanders

    I have no hesitation in rating Dan’s walk as Five Stars. It was excellent in every way. Dan was engaging and enthusiastic and really brought the subject of Pirates to life, along with aspects of how London was all those years ago. Whenever I see bollards, I think of cannons! Why? I recommend that you join Dan on his walk to find out! Enjoyable, too, was that the walk finished at the Prospect of Whitby – an historic pub that was renamed from ??? Another reason to join Dan’s walk, if you want to know what the pub’s former name was. Enjoy!

  8. Steven

    This was a highly informative and enjoyable walk, guided by a very knowledgable expert in Dan. Relating stories to historical parts of London, the subject was brought to life in an engaging and imaginative way that only heightened my interest in this subject. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who wants to spend a couple of hours discovering more about the Golden Age of Piracy and the part London played in this period of history!

  9. Jane

    A great walk, lots of stories as you walk through time. Not to be missed.

  10. John Mead

    As always with London Walks this was excellent value, a two hour guided walk through parts of London you wouldn’t normally see. Dan is a great guide, informative, enthusiastic, entertaining and knowledgeable – he guides you through history as well as interesting sights. And, big bonus, the tour ends at a real classic of a pub, with Best Bitter on tap. Would highly recommend.

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