Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fremantle's Notes For A First Class Oarsman

Notes on First Class Rowing by John Walgrave Halford Fremantle is a 21-page pamphlet published in 1921. (It was actually a reprint from The Cambridge Review of 21 and 28 October and 4 and 11 November 1921.) The titles of the different chapters are ‘Of the Beginning’, ‘Of Length and the Finish’, ‘Of Rhythm and the Swing Forward’, ‘Of the Racing Spirit’, ‘Of the Outside Hand, and more about the Finish’, ‘Of the Moving Slide’, ‘Of Bursting Yourself and Pinching the Boat’, ‘Of Swivel Rowlocks’, and, maybe a little odd, ‘Apology’ (apologising that there is actually not much new in these notes, “nor are they in any way complete”). Fremantle, later in 1956 to become the 4th Baron Cottesloe, 5th Baron Fremantle, was educated at Eton and Trinity College, and rowed for two victorious Cambridge crews in the Boat Race in 1921 and 1922.

Interesting with this pamphlet is also that Fremantle’s fellow crew member, Humphrey Blake Playford (Jesus College), wrote the Foreword, honestly writing that “I do not pretend that I heartily endorse every statement in these pages”, but adding “there is no doubt that he, who can perform in a boat what is contained in these notes, will be a first class-oar.” Playford rowed for Cambridge in 1920, 1921, and 1922; and he and his fellow ‘Jesus oar’ John Alan Campbell (Cambridge 1920 and 1921, and an Olympic silver medalist in the eights in 1920) won the Silver Goblets at Henley in 1921.

Humphrey Playford and Freddy Brittain would publish the book The Jesus College Boat Club in 1928, which would be reprinted in 1962 and then extended to cover the years 1827-1962.

Foot note: It was after I had bought this little pamphlet that I found Stanley Garton’s letter to ‘Gladder’ stuck in between two pages!

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