Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1937 NARA Championships at Henley?

At Henley yes, but an ARA regatta or an NARA regatta?

On 8 October, I wrote about a photograph taken probably in 1937 by George Bushell of the Clapton RC coxed four racing Britannia RC at which regatta and on which water I was not sure. However, I soon received a comment from my HTBS colleague Tim Koch, who wrote:

This is Henley. The bridge on the right and the Leander clubhouse peeking over the boat tents are quite identifiable. As Clapton Warwick (1877) and (presumably) Nottingham Britannia Rowing Club (1869) were tradesmen’s clubs I think the regatta must be Henley Town and Visitors’. This was the ‘Henley’ for men who worked with their hands and so were not (until 1938) classed by the Amateur Rowing Association as amateurs. Henley T and V is still going today and their website gives a brief history and some videos of recent regattas.

The River and Rowing Museum has nearly 500 local photographs taken by the photographer George Bushell on their website.

A little later HTBS also got an interesting e-mail from Malcolm Cook, who is of the same opinion as Tim when it comes to the regatta’s location, but not the regatta itself. Malcolm writes

I agree with Tim Koch when he says that the Clapton Warwick photo on HTBS was taken at Henley, but I don’t think it’s Henley Town & Visitors Regatta.

Henley Town & Visitors Regatta was an ARA regatta not an NARA regatta. For example, in 1937 (the last year before ARA clubs were allowed to race at NARA regattas and vice versa) the finals at Henley Town & Visitors Regatta included crews from clubs such as Thames, Maidenhead, Reading and Marlow – all of which were ARA clubs.

I suspect the photo was taken at the NARA Championships, which for some years in the 1930s was held at Henley a week after the Royal Regatta. The HRR Stewards used to leave the booms in place for the NARA Championships. You can see the booms in the photo.

The Times reported about the 1937 NARA Championships. In that piece it says that Clapton Warwick lost in the final of senior fours.

Britannia RC were, like Clapton Warwick, based on the River Lea, which is a tributary of the Thames in east London. Clapton Warwick RC merged with another Lea club, Gladstone RC, in 1958 to form Gladstone Warwick RC. In 1980, several Lea clubs, including Britannia RC and Gladstone Warwick RC, merged to become Lea RC, which still exists.

Many thanks to both Malcolm and Tim!

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