About Us & FAQ

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Hobbs of Henley – the finest hospitality 
on the Thames since 1870

Read on for the history of Hobbs of Henley, or
Download our brochure

A boat for every event; top service for every occasion

Founded as Hobbs and Sons in 1870 our firm is still family owned, and today operates the largest fleet of boats anywhere on the Thames. Our family's expert knowledge of the river, boating and event management has been passed down through the generations, marking us out as a company who understands what great customer service means. 

You can read more about us in our brochure, but for frequently asked questions, our terms and conditions or to meet our fantastic staff, follow the links below.

A family tradition of Thames river service - the history of Hobbs of Henley

Harry Hobbs – whose family have been traced back locally over 400 years - founds the firm with premises in Wharf Lane (now riverside flats).
1870
1898
Harry and his six sons move to the current site and build their own boathouse with help from local labour.
Hobbs & Sons registered as a limited company. Shortly afterwards Hobbs purchase other boatyard businesses in Goring and Shiplake, including one from a Mr. S. Saunders who goes onto co-form Saunders Roe, which eventually pioneers the hovercraft.
1902
1913
‘Enchantress’ – our umpire launch which is still in use today - was built for the Henley Royal Regatta. The craft carries the young Princess Elizabeth (now Queen) in 1946.

Responsibility for the construction and facilities at the Henley Royal Regatta taken on (only relinquished after the millennium).
1920
1931
In the minutes of a special meeting from this year it’s recorded that agreement was reached for each actively working director to take an annual holiday! (We’re still allowed Christmas off too!)
During WW2 with no petrol and then rationing, punts and skiffs enjoyed great popularity every weekend, particularly for camping.
1939
-45
1953
A R B (Dick) Hobbs takes on sole management of the firm, and allows his son, Tony, to progress into motor cruiser hire.
Tony Hobbs is appointed a Royal Waterman to Her Majesty the Queen, undertaking royal duties at Buckingham and St James Palaces and Windsor Castle including visits from overseas sovereigns and many state openings of parliament. Another Queens Waterman, Colin Hinton has been with the firm since he left school.
1981
1990
Hobbs sells the majority of the hire cruiser fleet and begins to concentrate on larger passenger vessels, along with day-hire-only boats. In the same year the flagship ‘New Orleans’ is commissioned, and has since carried over 200,000 private and corporate passengers up and down the Thames.
Tony Hobbs is appointed an MBE for services to the community, and is one of only four people to receive the Henley Town Medal.  
2004
2005
Hobbs and Sons Ltd. rebrands as the current Hobbs of Henley.
A small local boat hire company is purchased, taking the company’s boat fleet over 50 – the largest on the Thames.
2006
2012
Jonathan Hobbs becomes managing director. He goes onto become vice chairman of The Passenger Boat Association, and Chairman of The Henley Tourism Group and The Henley River Connections Group and a Director of The Henley Partnership. He founded the Henley Food Festival in 2006 and is a Trustee of The Henley Music Festival and of an exciting new project “The Rivertime Boat Trust” which has raised funds to build a boat for disabled and disadvantaged children and adults to use on the Upper Thames.
Hobbs reaches its 146th year. Despite hailing from the Victorian age, the company – like Old Father Thames himself – keeps rolling steadily on…
2016

Welcome to the world of Hobbs of Henley

“It was all as fabulous as ever, thank you! A great day and the crew really looked after us, as usual – please pass our thanks on to each of them, they were superb.”

Whatever you need to know to 
make your day memorable, 

Contact us

Hobbs of Henley, The Boat House, Station Road, Henley on Thames, RG9 1AZ 
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