London Duck Tours is one of London’s most successful and distinctive visitor experiences. It is not an ordinary tour but an amphibious adventure. It allows visitors to see the capital in a whole new way by taking a guided trip through the historic streets of London before splashing in the River Thames, through specialist D-Day vehicles adapted to go from road to river as part of a completely unique experience.
The history of ‘The Ducks’ is as fascinating as the tour itself – the product of two very impressive parents, the General Motors Corporation (GMC – who provided the automotive components) and the celebrated New York City yacht designers Sparkman & Stephens who gave the new vehicle its sea-going capabilities. The vehicles played a crucial role in the D-Day landings.
The concept of an amphibious sightseeing tour was transported to the UK from the United States back in 2000. The original name for what is one of the most enduring vehicles in history – the Ducks, as they are called today- is DUKW. This is a code name which can be broken down into its four constituent letters:
- D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942
- U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious)
- K = Front wheel drive
- W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle)
Current owner, John Bigos, was looking for a new challenge and bought the company in 2002. He, together with a small team, created London Duck Tours, a family-owned company that has gone from strength to strength, doubling the size of the fleet (which today counts nine vehicles) and employing around 60 people.
London Duck Tours currently has a turnover of over £4 million and carries more than 250,000 tourists around London by river and road each year.
The company is involved in a number of charitable projects and scholarships, locally and throughout London. In 2013, London Duck Tours set up an MBA Scholarship with the University of Surrey to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs. In November 2016, it presented a donation of £1,000 towards an appeal, hoping to raise £2.7 million to build a dedicated research facility at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, part of Guys and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.