Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Royal Visits Benefit Irish Rowing

City of Derry Boating Club Senior Eight – Season 1911: Standing; T. C. O Sproule, G. E. (Glover) Austin, J. C. (Campbell) Austin, S Cunningham. Seated; A. E. S. (Bertie) Austin, J. L. Roulston, E. D. Dickey (coxswain), A.N. Other [may be A. Adams], E. Kellock.

Greg Denieffe, one of HTBS's loyal readers, wrote this especially for us on this special day.

Pictured above is a postcard of the 1911 City of Derry crew and the trophies won by them that year. I purchased the postcard a few years ago as I recognized the crew and the Leander Trophy thanks to a photo of their 1912 crew in Michael Johnston’s book The Big Pot, The Story of the Irish Senior Rowing Championship 1912-1991 (1992).

In 1912, City of Derry won the inaugural Senior Eight Championship with virtually the same crew. The foundation of their championship win was laid down the previous year. This card is significant for two reasons:

Firstly we are celebrating the centenary this year and secondly one of their victories was in the Coronation Cup at Cork Regatta. In 1911, King George V came to the throne and also visited Ireland becoming the last British monarch to set foot in Dublin for 100 years. His granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II will follow in his footsteps today, on 17th May 2011. His coronation took place in London on 22nd June 1911 and the visit to Ireland was between 8th and 12th July.

The postcard has a divided back but no publisher’s name. It may have been a private production by the club but there is no indication of who they are or the year of print. However it can easily be dated to 1911 owing to the inclusion of the Leander Trophy (bottom left) and the Coronation Cup (bottom right) both won by City of Derry at Cork Regatta that year.

According to T. F. Hall, in his History of Boat-Racing in Ireland (1937) the most important events of the 1911 Irish rowing season were the races for the King’s Cup at Dublin Metropolitan Regatta: Ringsend on the lower Liffey and the Coronation Cup at Cork: raced along the Marina stretch of the river Lee. Both trophies were presented to Irish rowing to commemorate the accession and were for senior eights.

The King’s Cup was contested by five crews: Dublin University Boat Club, Neptune Rowing Club, Newry Rowing Club, City of Derry Boating Club and Dolphin Rowing Club. D.U.B.C and Derry met in the final and after a fine race in which Derry led to halfway, D.U.B.C. [also known as Trinity College, Dublin] gradually closed up and went on to win by a length. In 1898, D.U.B.C. was the first club to leave the crowded Lower Liffey and venture up stream to the calmer non tidal waters at Islandbridge. Raymond Blake in his wonderful book In Black and White on the History of Rowing at Trinity College, Dublin (1991), notes they had not competed at the Metropolitan Regatta since they had moved and instituted their own Trinity Regatta. It was only the prospect of the King’s Cup, the fact that ‘Metro’ was being held during the royal visit and the urgings of the Lord Lieutenant that enticed them back in 1911.

A fortnight later, four crews, Derry, D.U.B.C., Neptune and Shandon Boat Club lined up for the Coronation Cup. Derry led Neptune early on with D.U.B.C and Shandon level half a length behind. D.U.B.C outraced Neptune but could not catch Derry who won by three lengths. Derry completed the senior eight’s double by beating Cappoquin Rowing Club, Neptune and Shandon in the ‘Leander’.

The Leander Trophy was first raced for at the Cork Regatta in 1904. It was presented to the Cork Regatta Committee by the English crews who participated in the International Cup in 1902 in appreciation of the hospitality extended to them by the local residents during their stay in Cork. As they were all members of the College Boat Clubs at Oxford and Cambridge the presentation was made through Leander Club. In celebration of the Coronation of King Edward VII and the Cork International Exhibition of 1902 a 3½ ft. trophy valued at £250, which had been paid for by public subscription and presented by Lord O’Brien, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland for competition at Cork Regatta. The top Irish crews were challenged by Leander Club; Emmanuel College, Cambridge; University College, Oxford and Magdalen College, Oxford as well as Berliner Ruder Club - Leander defeating the Germans in the final. Following is a short clip of the final on YouTube.

The Cork Regatta Committee tried to repeat the success of 1902 the following year and another fine trophy was put up for international competition. Despite their best efforts only Leander came from England and fresh from their success in the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley, easily beat the local crews including the winners of that year’s Thames Cup, Dublin University B. C.

Both of the trophies won by Leander are on display in their Club House and you will find pictures of them and the ‘Leander Trophy’ on page 85 of The Brilliants, A History of the Leander Club (1997) by Richard Burnell and Geoffrey Page.

Thank you, Greg, for a most entertaining and enlightening article!


  1. I found this as I was looking up details of City of Derry for the opening of the Peace Bridge tomorrow - fascinating to see my Grandpa ( Glover Austin) as well as Uncle (Jack?) and Uncle Bertie from 100 years ago. Michael Johnston was in contact with my Dad, Cecil Austin at the time of writing the book, so we knew all about it, and I'm delighted to say we have the replice of the Big Pot in my Mum's house - complete with Edwardian oarsman on the top!

  2. Dear Wendy - thank you for a very interesting comment!

    1. Hi, Wendy. In 2009, I published a book on the Royal Air Force training base in Mesa, Arizona. Stanley Maurice Austin was in the first course to graduate there in 1941. According to my research, his father was Glover E. Austin and mother was Mary C. (maiden name unknown). Glover served in World War I as a machine gun officer. I have a photograph of him at Finner Camp in Co. Donegal training the 10th Batallion, 'C' Company of the Inniskilling Fusiliers. would love to know more about your grandfather! I can be reached at Thank you! -Daryl Mallett, Tucson, Arizona

  3. Hi Wendy,

    Great to hear from you. It really brings the past to life to hear something from the horse's mouth so to speak. I have a trophy from the 1925 senior eights championship won by DUBC. Is is the Ardagh Chalice type.

    I would love a photograph of the replica trophy to complete the picture. Maybe you could post it on to this site?

    I spent my 25th birthday in the bar of City of Derry Boating Club in 1986 and afterwards at the Club disco. Happy memories indeed.

    Have a great day tommorow.

    Greg Denieffe

    1. Hi, Greg. In 2009, I published a book on the RAF training base in Mesa, Arizona. In the first course to graduate in 1941 was Stanley Maurice Austin, who was KIA in Tunisia in 1943. According to my research, Glover E. Austin was his father. Would like to talk to you about Glover and see about obtaining permission to use the above photograph as part of my next book. I can be reached at Thank you for considering this. Cheers! Daryl Mallett, Tucson, Arizona