South Woodford online business going strong nearly 15 years on (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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South Woodford online business RTG Publishing going strong nearly 15 years on
An online guide to the River Thames which was set-up by a South Woodford publisher in the infancy of the internet has marked its continuing success with its own awards ceremony.
RTG Publishing, based in George Lane, began running The River Thames Guide website in 1999 at a time when even web giants like Google were struggling financially.
But despite growing competition in the years that followed the site, which features listings of pubs, restaurants, hotels and events, steadily grew up a reputation and now boasts around a million hits every month.
The firm recently held its Best Thames Local awards, which honours the best businesses along the banks of the river which are featured on its site riverthames.co.uk
Co-founder and RTG boss Stephen Worsfold said: “We've had to work jolly hard to get where we are today.
“It's been challenging and when we started out it was difficult for a lot of websites – it looked like Google was about to go broke.
“But I think because we got it early and hard we've been able to keep going and now we have around 2,000 restaurants, pubs and other businesses listed on our website.”
The company's awards are chosen via an online poll on its website and have also proved popular.
This year The Durell Arms in Fulham scooped the best pub prize while Northbank by the Thames at St Pauls won best restaurant along the river.
“We started the awards because we felt it was important to support and recognise the smaller businesses, especially during the recession,” said accounts manager Simon Worsfold, who is the son of Mr Worsfold senior.
The firm has since expanded to other online guides, including on canals across the UK, and gets feedback from all over the world.
However the site's domain name occasionally causes confusion.
Mr Worsfold senior said: “Sometimes we get emails from people asking for permission to race on The Thames, to scatter ashes, or they ask us questions like how deep it is.
"They don't realise we have nothing to do with that - it can get quite amusing”.
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