1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869
BOAT RACE 1860 - 1869

Oxford University v Cambridge University


Map taken from George Drinkwater's "The Boat Race"

Following the sinking of the Cambridge boat in 1859 Punch wrote:


The approaching contest on the river between the two Universities is creating a great amount of interest, not alone on the tapis of Belgravia, but also at the taps of the waterside public-houses.

We hope that the Cambridge men will be more fortunate than thev were upon the last occasion. It must be exceedingly unpleasant to bid "farewell to one's trim-built wherry," by so summary (or rather wintry) an ejectment, and to go to the bed of the river with such a dip.

We trust that the gallant Commanders of the vessels of the Thames Steam Navy will keep a respectful distance, and not disturb the gallant competitors by the intrusion of heavy swells.

The Derby at Epsom has been called the " Blue Ribbon of the Turf," but, when we consider the colours of our Universities, may we not call the prize of honour, on this occasion, the Blue Ribbon of the River?

At all events, whatever be the issue of the race, we hope that the Cantabs may not again become Companions of the Bath.

17: 1860, Saturday, 31st March

In 1860 CAMBRIDGE WON by one length. Time 26 minutes and 5 seconds. Oxford 7, Cambridge 10

This was a classic close race in which the lead changed several times. The slow time was no doubt due to the slack tide on which it was rowed.

Baily's magazine of sports and pastimes, 1860 -

We now come to the great day itself, Saturday, the 31st of March, 1860; and long will that day be held in high estimation by all true oarsmen. Again an early start was necessary. Before 7 a.m. the river at London Bridge was all life and bustle ; above a dozen steamers were taking in cargoes, and by that hour nearly all of them were on the way to Putney. The last to leave (7'2o) was the ' Venus,' with the members of the London Rowing Club, and her passengers only just arrived at Putney in time to witness the start.

At 8.15 the two crews got into their boats, and shortly afterwards rowed down to the Water Bridge. The scene at this time was truly astonishing. At an hour when half London is expected to be in bed, thousands had arrived; indeed, many Haymarket parties might be seen in cabs, who evidently determined to make the boat-race the last thing at night. Above two thousand were conveyed by the South Western Railway alone; a score of steam-boats waited the start, crammed with spectators; the bridge, the Putney tow-path, the Bishop's grounds at Fulham, and every available space wherefrom a glimpse of the race could be obtained, being occupied. Great was the excitement and interest displayed as the two crews approached the starting-place, various were the opinions expressed; the chief bias, we believe, being the influence of party feeling, the crews being really so even that judges looked on and held their peace.

Oxford won the choice of station, and took the inside, that is, the Fulham side of the river - a right selection enough, had the race been started at 8 a.m. instead of half an hour later, when the tide had made its mark, and was actually running down on the Middlesex shore, though just holding up where the course of the Cambridge of necessity pointed.

One false start, and then the word was given by Mr. Edward Searle. At that moment a strong puff of wind threw the Cambridge boat down on one side ; but still away she went, and had cleared half her length before her adversary had advanced a foot. But now both were under weigh, and Oxford, to make up for the slow start they had made, put on a wonderful spurt, rowing some forty-three or forty-four strokes per minute, the result of which was that, before the Star and Garter was reached, they were nearly level with the Cantabs, and off the London Boat-house led by a few feet. And be it remembered they had rowed thus far with a slight tide making down against them.

Both boats now got further away from the shore, Cambride swerving out very suddenly, the rudder being put so hard up, that the Oxford seemed to gain rapidly in a couple of strokes.

Round Craven Cottage, Oxford got nearly three-quarters of their boat's length in advance. The rowing now on both sides was very fine, Oxford holding their lead until the Crab Tree, when their extraordinarily quick stroke began to tell on them, and they seemed unable to change it into a more lasting style, such as Cambridge rowed; and the latter now came up, rowing some hundred yards dead level; and so close were the boats together, that the oars came in contact twice.

The second time this occurred the stroke of the Oxford had his oar knocked out of his grasp ; but the excitement of the race was too great to notice trifles, and the two crews passed under Hammersmith Bridge, time 9 m. 26 s., all but level, Cambridge having an advantage of a few feet, a lead that their excellent condition, and the quiet, determined stroke of Mr. Hall enabled them to maintain, and even improve in the next half mile, and which it seemed next to impossible that any exertion on the part of the Oxford crew could endanger;

but to the surprise of all, at Chiswick Eyott the boats again seemed to overlap, after which Cambridge again drew away, passing under the Railway Bridge at Barnes, with half a clear length between the boats, the Oxonians, notwithstanding the short, quick stroke they were now rowing, rather lessening the distance before the Ship at Mortlake was passed, though the Cambridge ultimately won by the distance named, or by about fifteen seconds of time ; rowing the whole distance in twenty-six minutes, great part of it being against tide.

Thus ended one of the most gallant contests that it has ever been our good fortune to witness between the rival crews of our two great seats of learning; and while we hailed with all enthusiasm the victorious Cantabs, we felt equally bound to give a hearty cheer for the vanquished Oxonians.

It would be worse than presumption to hint that had Oxford taken the outside station, and thus got the advantage of what tide remained, and had they not got into such a hurried style, the fortune of the day might have been otherwise; but still they rowed under these disadvantages, and it is only fair to allude to the fact.

It was also the subject of remark, that the 'dark blues' had not pitted themselves against any crew for a trial over the course, while Cambridge had not only had a spin against the London Rowing Club, who kindly manned their new twelve-oared outrigger on the Tuesday previous, but on the Thursday had an eight-oared crew of watermen to row against; and there can be no question that both these races, stern wagers as they were from the commencement, must have been of much benefit to them.

The Cambridge crew speedily recovered the effect of the race, and actually followed their usual practice of at once rowing back to Putney. The Oxford crew left their boat at Mortlake. Both crews met about two hours afterwards, to lunch at Mr. Phillips's, the Cedars, Barnes; and to keep up the friendly feeling that always exists between the representatives of the two Universities for the Easter race, dined together at the Albion Hotel the same evening.

 OXFORD 1860st. lb.  CAMBRIDGE 1860st. lb.
BowJ N McQueen11. 7 BowS Heathcote10. 3
2G Norsworthy11. 0 2H J Chaytor11. 4
3T F Halsey11.11 3D Ingles10.13
4J F Young12. 8 4J S Blake12. 9
5G Morrison12.13 5M Coventry12. 8
6H F Baxter11. 7 6B N Cherry12. 1
7C I Strong11. 2 7A H Fairbairn11.10
StrR W Risley11. 8 StrJ Hall10. 4
CoxA J Roberts 9. 9 CoxJ T Morland 9. 0

18: 1861, Saturday, 23rd March

In 1861 OXFORD WON by 48 seconds. Time 23 minutes and 30 seconds. Oxford 8, Cambridge 10

Hunt's Yachting Magazines -


THIS great national event came off on Saturday, March 23rd, over the old course—Putney to Mortlake. The crews had been in active training, and came to the scratch with a determination to uphold the honour of their respective universities.
The weatherwise had prognosticated that as it had blown so strong and so long it never could last, and that the March, according to the shepherd's adage, which had come in like a lion would go out like a lamb ; and although this hope was not entirely fulfilled, yet the wind, which blew from S.W., was more moderate, and the morning was fine. The tides having been kept down by the prevalence of north-westerly winds compelled an earlier Start than had been anticipated, and accordingly, at a little before eleven, Mr. Edward Searle, as starter, was at his post in a boat, between the contending parties, who were loudly cheered by their friends as they moved down from their respective boat yards. Mr. J. W. Clitty, of Exeter College, Oxford, again filled the important office of umpire.
The river banks and every place whence a view might be obtained were as densely thronged as usual, and the steamers, of which there were thirteen, were crowded with the anxious friends of either party. Cambridge having won the toss, took the Middlesex shore, and, all being in readiness, Mr. Searle pronounced the fatal "Off", and both boats shot away from their holders with the rapidity of lightning.
Oxford was slightly quickest at getting their oars into the water, and, consequently, their bows shot a few feet ahead at the very first. Cambridge, however, after a few strokes recovered this and Mr. Hall putting on a spurt of 42 in the minute, their boat began to shoot rapidly ahead, and off the Star and Garter they were leading full half their length ; but it was evident that such fast rowing was not likely to last long, and this was soon made apparent by Oxford beginning to regain their loss, and off the London Rowing Club Boat House they were again level, and before the race had proceeded much further they obtained the lead, and went gradually but surely to the front.
It was here that the Oxford boat was much inconvenienced by the surf of Citizen D steamer, but they struggled most valiantly with the difficulty, and came bravely through a trouble, which, in many a race, might greatly have endangered the lead. Loud were the imprecations raised by both Oxford and Cambridge men, but it was the general position of all the steamboats, at the moment clustered together, and unable to steer away, that was to blame. Otherwise they were well managed, and we know that the captains had the strictest orders to keep clear from the superintendents, Messrs. Sawyer and Burney. As long as so large a number are allowed to run, the match must be exposed to accident.
Both boats were rowing very well at this time — would that we could say as much for the steering, which in the Cambridge boat at least was the worst exhibition we ever saw in a University match. In the straight part of the river off the Crab Tree the course was kept tolerably well, but the remainder was the most errratic we ever saw. On nearing Hammersmith Bridge Oxford fell into their true and excellent form of rowing, which had been much admired during the past week of practice, and increasing the distance upon their adversaries, they shot under it in 8m. 45s. from the start, being several lengths ahead.
Not much change took place in the respective positions of the boats afterwards. Cambridge at times seeming a little to improve their position by the splendid spurts put on by Mr. Hall, and so gallantly rowed by his men. In Corney Reach, the steerer of the Oxford boat had an opportunity of displaying his judgment and decision in taking his boat ahead of a sailing barge, of which he took advantage ; and, indeed, tnroughout all his course his steering was generally approved.
Barnes Railway Bridge was reached by Oxford in 19m. 43s., and they rowed past the flag-boat at Mortlake, amidst the deafening cheers of the countless myriads there assembled, in 23m. 27s. from the time of starting. Cambridge was 48s behind, or thirty strokes.
Without disparagement to the rest, we may single out Messrs. Robertson, Morrison, and Hoare in the Oxford boat, and Messrs. Richards, Collings, and Fitzgerald, in that of the Cambridge, for especial praise ; and, perhaps, it should be known that Mr. Collings was far from well, though it was admirably concealed by the smile on his face, and the great pluck ot his rowing. It is sufficient to say that Mr. Hall was as good as ever.
After the race Mr. Phillips of the Cedars, Mortlake, dispensed his usual hospitality; and in the evening both crews dined, by invitation, with the Thames Subscription Club, at Willis's Rooms, the Hon. G. Denman, Q.C., M.P., in the chair. — Bells Life.

 OXFORD 1861st. lb.  CAMBRIDGE 1861st. lb.
BowW Champneys10.11 BowG H Richards10. 4
2E B Merriman10. 1 2H J Chaytor11. 3
3H E Meddlicott12. 4 3W H Tarleton11. 0
4W Robertson11. 3 4J S Blake12.10
5G Morrison12. 8 5M Coventry13. 3
6A R Poole12. 3 6H H Collings10.11
7H G Hopkins10. 8 7R U P Fitzgerald11. 2
StrW M Hoare10.10 StrJ Hall10. 6
CoxS O B Ridsdale 9. 0 CoxT K Gaskell 8. 3

Hopkins, Poole, Champneys, Merriman
Meddlicott, Roberts, Morrison,
Ridsdale, Hoare

19: 1862, Saturday, 12th April

In 1862 OXFORD WON by 30 seconds. Time 24 minutes and 41 seconds. Oxford 9, Cambridge 10

Boat Race day was a fine cold day with a cold north-north-east wind. Oxford won the toss and chose Middlesex.
Cambridge went off at the faster rate and went briefly into the lead, but this was very short lived and by the end of the first half mile, Oxford had not only overtaken them but had gone ahead, leaving clear water between the crews.
From there on Cambridge got shorter and more ragged as the dark blues moved further ahead. Eventually when Oxford were about 6 lengths ahead, the steamers closed round Cambridge and the combined effect of their drag sucked them back leaving Oxford to win by some ten lengths.

Chamber's journal of popular literature, science and arts gave the view from Hammersmith Bridge -

But see, there is a dark mass looming round the point at last - the first of the fleet of steamers chartered to accompany the race. This mighty phalanx, each with its every foot of standing-room crowded with human beings, is a strange and stately sight, and the huge black hulls have a weird and dismal aspect, as though they were assembled to do honour to some Departed, water-borne to his last home.

It is not at once that we can detect, a very little in advance of them, the two fragile boats containing the heroes of the day.

'Light Blue's ahead!'
'No, it's Dark Blue, by Jove!'
'Bravo, Oxford!'
'Confound our luck again!'
'Well pulled, well pulled!'

That last, of all cries, is the most appropriate and deserved. Each eight-oar is shot forward as though propelled by a single pair of sculls. The silver splash of the oarblades, the sharp half-roll in the rowlocks, are each a single sound. The backs of the eight oarsmen rise and fall with the regularity of piston-strokes, and both crews are just now what is called 'putting their backs into it' — rowing their very hardest.

But alas for the Light Blue heroes; they are overmatched altogether for this time, and at least two lengths behind. Their adherents upon the Bridge groan within themselves and shiver, while they mutter something meant to be reassuring: 'Never mind,' or 'Better luck next time.' The Light Blue ladies sigh as they finger their rosettes. The Light Blue boys cry 'Hang it!' and 'What a sell!'

There are not a few Cantabs present, perhaps, across whose mind has flashed the brilliant thought of making their memories fragrant and to blossom in their dust for ever by jumping down into the Dark Blue boat as it went by, and sinking that hated craft. No Curtius was ever dearer to Roman hearts than he who should do this thing would be for aye to Light Blue bosoms. But the wind is east, and the water looks very cold, and the moment for the self-sacrifice is lost in indecision. The Cantab gaze may wander for a moment upon some Dark Blue boy whom it would be luxury indeed to have dropped instead — with his feet tied together with dark-blue ribbons, so that his determination to step on board, if he failed to sink her, might be relied upon — but even this vicarious opportunity has slipped by: the boats sweep on, and sentimental regret must not be indulged in, if we would obtain another view of them.

Each rushes to his peculiar vehicle, and then along the road begins the strife of Hansoms — almost as much a University race as the aquatic one. In addition to the dangers arising from the excessive speed, there is a particular peril in the fact, that the drivers cannot afford to bestow any attention upon their careering horses, their eyes being exclusively occupied in watching the boats, which, although lost to their fares, they can distinguish from their own elevated positions.

At Barnes Terrace, we see the fate of Light Blue finally decided, as well as hear it abundantly accounted for. Never yet was boat-race lost, I believe, but through certain untoward circumstances quite out of the control of the losers. The wind has blown the cockswain out of the boat; or the stroke has broken an oar, or a blood-vessel; or a barge (preceded by expletives) has filled up the identical arch in the bridge selected by the steerer. As in the great classical combats, whenever the occasion seemed to demand it, a god was made to intervene, so in the University contest, some unforeseen and unavoidable influence is ever observed by the friends of the defeated party.

Upon the whole, however, Fortune has been singularly impartial: out of nineteen races, ten having been won by Light Blue, and nine by Dark.

 OXFORD 1862st. lb.  CAMBRIDGE 1862st. lb.
BowW B Woodgate11. 6 BowP F Gorst10. 4
2O S Wynne11. 3 2J G Chambers11. 8
3W B R Jacobson12. 4 3E Sanderson10.10
4R E L Burton12. 5 4W C Smyly11. 5
5A Morrison12. 8 5R U P Fitzgerald11. 3
6A R Poole12. 5 6H H Collings11. 2
7C R Carr11. 2 7J G Buchanan10.12
StrW M Hoare11. 1 StrG H RichardsJ Hall10. 5
CoxF E Hopwood 7. 3 CoxF H Archer 5. 2

Wynne, Woodgate, Jacobson,
Burton, Hopwood, Morrison,
Poole, Hoare, Carr

20: 1863, Saturday, 28th March

In 1863 OXFORD WON by 45 seconds. Time 23 minutes and 6 seconds. Oxford 10, Cambridge 10

The course was rowed downstream from Mortlake to Putney starting nearly half a mile above the modern finish.
Oxford started as favourites though Cambridge had more success against local crews when they both arrived on the Thames.

Steamers were an increasing problem and particularly in 1863 - however the umpire had the upper hand in this instance for though several steamers refused to get behind the crews the tide was ebbing. And the water was relatively shallow. After delaying the start for nearly an hour, one of the steamers went aground - and the prospect of several hours stranded on the mud encouraged the others to behave and finally the race was started.

Oxford won the toss and chose Middlesex and in one minute had a length lead which they opened to two lengths by the time they reached the modern finish at The Ship. Cambridge were beaten as Oxford moved steadily ahead winning by some fifteen lengths.

R Shepherd, 11. 0
F H Kelly, 11. 5
W B R Jacobson, 12. 4
W B Woodgate, 11.11
A Morrison, 12. 4
W Awdry, 11. 4
C R Carr, 11. 3
W M Hoare, 11. 7
F E Hopwood, 8. 4

J C Hawkshaw, 11. 0
W C Smyly, 11. 4
R H Morgan, 11. 3
J B Wilson, 11.10
C H La Mothe, 12. 3
R A Kinglake, 12. 0
J G Chambers, 11. 6
J Stanning, 10. 6
F H Archer, 5. 9

1863, The Oxford crew come ashore after winning by 15 lengths,

Shepherd, Awdry, Morrison, Jacobson,
Kelly, Woodgate, Carr,
Hopwood, Hoare

21: 1864, Saturday, 19th March

In 1864 OXFORD WON by 27 seconds. Time 21 minutes and 40 seconds. Oxford 11, Cambridge 10

The boats will start from two barges moored off the Star and Garter.
We have agreed that the race shall not start with a single steamer in front of the boats.
If the captains of steamers do not abide by these orders the race shall be rowed on the ebb.
C. Hawkshaw Capt. CUBC
R. Carr Capt. OUBC

Since Putney Aqueduct was built in 1856, the usual start had been too close to Putney Bridge to allow room for the steamers to line up. In a move to relieve this problem the start was moved some 140 yards upstream. But there was still a problem! The threat to row on the ebb (downstream) would have given the umpire the effective power to strand the steamers as the tide went out. However since the one spectator who could not be ignored, the Prince of Wales, had a timetable to keep, the race could not be postponed as was threatened. And so it had to be started with steamers still in front of the crews.

Of course we are used to watching the great surge of launches following the race, and it is perfectly obvious that if any one were to get in front of the umpire they would suffer the disapproval of several million people. But in the mid Victorian period the tradition was not so strong and the steamer drivers were not above a little racing on their own account.

Oxford won the toss and chose Middlesex, but Cambridge went off faster and took a lead. One of the Oxford oarsmen caught a crab, and they went over towards Fulham losing the tide.
However Oxford staged a recovery and began to catch up, becoming level just before Craven Steps and by the mile post were ahead by 2 lengths. Oxford continued to ease ahead.
However at The Ship Oxford nearly threw it all away. They easied, forgetting that the finish had been moved further up stream when the start was changed. But their lead was sufficient and they won by what was officially recorded as 27 seconds.

C P Roberts, 10. 9
W Awdry, 11. 4
F H Kelly, 11. 9
J C Parson, 12. 9
W B R Jacobson, 12. 3
A E Seymour, 11. 3
M Brown, 11. 3
D Pocklington, 11. 5
C R W Tottenham, 7. 3

J C Hawkshaw, 11. 3
E V Pigott, 11. 9
H S Watson, 12. 4
W W Hawkins, 12. 0
R A Kinglake, 12. 4
G Borthwick, 12. 1
D F Steavenson, 12. 1
J R Selwyn, 11. 0
F H Archer, 6. 6

Sagittulae, Random Verses, E W Bowling, from 'The Great Boat Race (1864) -


Come, list to me, who wish to hear the glories of our crew,
I'll tell you all the names of those who wear the Cambridge Blue.

First HAWKSHAW comes, a stalwart bow, as tough as oak, nay tougher;
Look at him ye who wish to see the Antipodes to "duffer."
Swift as the Hawk in airy flight, strong as the guardsman SHAW,
We men of mortal muscles must contemplate him with awe.

Though I dwell by Cam's slow river, and I hope am not a bigot,
I think that Isis cannot boast a better man than PIGOTT:
Active, and strong, and steady, and never known to shirk,
Of Corpus the quintessence, he is always fit for work.

The men of Thames will be amazed when they see our "Three" so strong,
And doubt if such a mighty form to mortal mould belong.
"What son is this?" they, one and all, will ask in awe and wonder;
The men of Cam will answer make, "A mighty son of thunder."

Next HAWKINS comes at "number 4," the sole surviving pet
Of the patroness of rowing, the Lady Margaret;
When they think of his broad shoulders, and strong and sinewy arms,
Nor parents dear, nor brothers stern, need foster fond alarms.

O! a tear of love maternal in Etona's eye will quiver
When she sees her favourate KINGLAKE also monarch of the river.
Oh! that I could honour fitly in this unassuming song
That wondrous combination of steady, long, and strong.

Then comes a true-blue mariner from the ever-glorious "First,"
In the golden arms of Glory and the lap of Victory nursed;
Though blue may be his colours, there are better oarsmen few,
And Oxford when it sees him will perhaps look still more blue.

Then comes the son of STEPHEN, as solid as a wall;
We need not add, who know his name, that he hails from Trinity Hall.
Oh! in the race, when comes at last the struggle close and dire,
May he have the wind and courage of his tutor and his sire;
May he think of all the glories of the ribbon black and white,
And add another jewel to the diadem so bright!

Then comes a name which Camus and Etona know full well
A name that's always sure to WYN and ne'er will prove a SELl.
O what joy will fill a Bishop's heart oft a far far distant shore,
When he sees our Stroke; reviving the memories of yore!
Then old Cam will he revisit in fancy's fairy dream,
And rouse once more with sounding oar the slow and sluggish stream:

But who is this with voice so shrill, so resolute and ready?
Who cries so oft "too late!" "too soon!" "quicker forward!" "Steady, steady!"
Why 'tis our young toxophilite, our ARCHER bold and true,
The lightest and the tightest who has ever steered light-blue.
O when he pulls the yielding string may he shoot both strong and straight,
And may the night be swift and sure of his mighty arrows eight!
May he add another victory to increase our Cambridge score;
May Father Thames again behold the light blue to the fore!

But ah! the name of Victory falls feebly on my ear -
Forgive me! 'tis not cowardice that bids me shed this tear,
I weep to think that three long years have looked on our defeat;
For three long years we ne'er have known the taste of triumph sweet;
O Father Cam! O Father Thames! O ye nymphs of Chiswick eyot!
O Triton! O Poseidon! Take some, pity on our fate!

What's the use of resolution, or of training, or of science,
If anxious friends and relatives to our efforts bid defiance?
If they take our strongest heroes from the middle of the boat,
Lest exposure to the weather should result in a sore throat?

We've rowed our boat when wave on wave o'er ship and crew was dashing,
And little were we troubled by the steamers and the splashing.
O little do the light-blues care when tempests round them gather,
We'll meet the raging of the skies, but not an angry father!

For though our vessel sank, our hearts were buoyant as a feather,
Since we knew that we had done our best in spite of wind and weather.
Then all ye Gods and Goddesses who rule o'er lake and river,
O wipe away the trembling tear which in mine eye doth quiver!
O wipe away the dire defeats that now we often suffer;
Let not the name of Cambridge blue be breathed with that of "duffer!"
O melt the hearts of governors; for who can hope to thrive,
If, when we're just "together," they despoil us of our "Five?"

And lastly, when 'mid shouts and cheers and screams and deafening dins,
The two boats start upon their course -


Dei mihi, Oxford wins!

22: 1865, Saturday, 8th April

In 1865 OXFORD WON by 4 lengths. Time 21 minutes and 24 seconds. Oxford 12, Cambridge 10

The steamers were again a problem - and both crews actually went back to the boathouses until the steamers saw reason. By then the race was so late that the tide was slackening.

Oxford won the toss and chose Middlesex. Cambridge started at 44, a much higher rating than Oxford. Cambridge were ahead far enough to take Oxford's water at Craven Steps.
But Oxford did not panic and maintained their lower rating and stopped the Cambridge lead from increasing. By Hammersmith they had their reward, Cambridge were tiring and their lead was whittled away and as Oxford came up Cambridge went to pieces at Chiswick Church and Oxford led by three lengths at Barnes Bridge.

Below Barnes Bridge a barge was tacking across the river right on Oxford's course and a collision appeared to be inevitable, but Cox Charles Tottenham judged so exactly his own pace and that of the barge that he passed under its stern, with only an inch or two to spare, without altering his course by a hair’s breadth.

The clue is in the words "under its stern" - it would be a much more dangerous feat to do such a thing in front of its bows! See 1866!

Oxford won by 4 lengths.

R T Raikes, 11. 0
H P Senhouse, 11. 1
E F Henley, 12.13
G G Coventry, 11.12
A Morrison, 12. 6
T Wood, 12. 2
H Schneider, 11.10
M Brown, 11. 4
C R W Tottenham, 7.13

H Watney, 11. 1
M H L Beebee, 10.12
E V Pigott, 11.12
R A Kinglake, 12. 8
D F Steavenson, 12. 4
G Borthwick, 11.13
W R Griffiths, 11. 8
C B Lawes, 11. 7
F H Archer, 7. 3

The 1865 Oxford boat training on the Isis.

Oxford 1865
The 1865 Oxford boat training on the Isis

Brown, Senhouse, Morrison,
Coventry, Raikes, Schneider, Wood, Henley,

23: 1866, Saturday, 24th March

In 1866 OXFORD WON by 3 lengths. Time 25 minutes and 35 seconds. Oxford 13, Cambridge 10

Cambridge training on the Cam -

1866 Cambridge Boat training
1866 Cambridge training on the Cam

The boat appears to be rigged with stroke on the starboard side. Artists sometimes made mistakes - but the Plough Inn clearly shows that this is not a case of a reversed photograph.

Argonaut (E D Brickwood in 'The Arts of Rowing and Training', 1866) -

There should be no running before breakfast.
I repeat, no running before breakfast!
I have very little doubt but that overtraining, and many of its concomitant evils,
are caused by too much running rather than rowing.

Oxford again won the toss and chose Middlesex. There was a strong south-west wind. Steamers again delayed the start until the tide was all but over.
Cambridge stayed well out in the middle seeking any stream that remained, while Oxford sought shelter along the Fulham shore.
It seemed that Cambridge went into the lead at the start, but the different courses made it hard to judge at Craven Steps. At the Crabtree, when the courses came together Oxford had almost drawn level -

Boatrace 1866
Cambridge nearest us, Oxford drawing level

However Cambridge moved ahead again and shot Hammersmith Bridge ahead.

Cambridge ahead of Oxford at Hammersmith Bridge, 1866

The river was rough and Oxford showed the better watermanship and they slowly took the lead.
Shortly after this, any hope that Cambridge might have, was destroyed by their cox. A barge cut right across his course but he attempted to pass in front of it and only just avoided disaster by a dramatic turn right off the true course and by the time he was back on course, Oxford were almost 3 lengths ahead.
Oxford maintained their lead and won by 4 lengths.

Extended account of the 1866 Race by Argonaut

R T Raikes, 11. 0
F Crowder, 11.11
W L Freeman, 12. 7
F Willan, 12. 2
E F Henley, 13. 0
W W Wood, 12. 4
H P Senhouse, 11. 3
M Brown, 11. 5
C R W Tottenham, 7.13

J Still, 11. 6
J R Selwyn, 11. 6
J U Bourke, 12. 3
H J Fortescue, 12. 2
D F Stevenson, 12. 5
R A Kinglake, 12. 9
H Watney, 10.11
W R Griffiths, 11. 9
A Forbes, 8. 0

Boat race fictional account in "The Mysteries of Isis" H J Wilmot


Attend, all ye who wish to see the names of each stout crew,
Who've come to town from cap and gown to fight for their favourite blue.


First TOTTENHAM comes, a well-known name, that cattle driving Cox'en.
Who oft to victory has steer'd his gallant team of Oxon.
O'er Putney's course so well can he that team in safety goad,
That we ought to call old Father Thames the Oxford-Tottenham Road.

Then comes the Stroke, a mariner of merit and renown;
Since dark blue are his colours, he can never be dun-brown.
Ye who would at your leisure his heroic deeds peruse,
Go, read "Tom Brown at Oxford" by the other Tom - TOM HUGHES.

Next SENHOUSE, short for Senate-house, but long enough for seven,
Shall to the eight-oar'd ship impart a senatorial leaven.

Then Number Six (no truer word was ever said in joke)
In keeping with his name of WOOD, has heart and limbs of oak.

The voice of all aquatic men the praise of "Five" proclaims;
No finer sight can eye delight than "HENLEY-upon-Thames."

Then Number Four who is heavier far than a number of Macmillan,
Though WILLAN'S his name may well exclaim, "Here I am, but I hain't a willan." [1]

Then FREEMAN rows at Number Three, in a freer and manly style;
No finer oar was e'er produced by the Tiber, Thames, or Nile.
Let politicians, if they please, rob freemen of their vote,
Provided they leave Oxford men a FREEMAN for their boat.

Among the crowd of oarsmen proud no name will fame shout louder
Than his who sits at Number Two, the straight and upright CROWDER.

Then RAIKES rows bow, and we must allow that with all the weight that's aft
The bow-oar gives a rakish air to the bows o' the dark-blue craft.

This is the crew, who've donned dark blue, and no stouter team of Oxon
Has ploughed the waves of old Father Thames, or owned a better Cox'en.


Now, don't refuse, aquatic Muse, the glories to rehearse
Of the rival crew, who've donned light blue, to row for better or worse.
They've lost their luck, but retain their pluck, and whate'er their fate may be,
Light blue may meet one more defeat, but disgrace they ne'er will see.
We've seen them row thro' sleet and snow till they sank - "merses profundo"
(HORACE, forgive me!) "pulchrior Cami evenit arundo."

First little FORBES our praise absorbs, he comes from a learned College,
So Cambridge hopes he will pull his ropes with scientific knowledge.
May he shun the charge of swinging barge more straight than an archer's arrow, [2]
May he steer his eight, as he sits sedate in the stern of his vessel narrow!

Then comes the Stroke, with a heart of oak, who has stood to his flag like twenty,
While some stood aloof, and were not proof against dolce far niente.
So let us pray that GRIFFITHS may to the banks of Cam recall
The swing and style, lost for a while, since the days of JONES and HALL.

Then WATNEY comes, and a pluckier seven ne'er rowed in a Cambridge crew;
His long straight swing is just the thing which an oarsman loves to view.

Then comes KINGLAKE, of a massive make, who in spite of failures past, [3]
Like a sailor true, has nailed light-blue as his colours to the mast.
The Consul bold in days of old was thanked by the Patres hoary,
When, in spite of luck, he displayed his pluck on the field of Cannae gory;
So whate'er the fate of the Cambridge eight, let Cambridge men agree,
Their voice to raise in their Captain's praise with thrice and three times three.

Then Number Five is all alive, and for hard work always ready,
As to and fro his broad back doth go, like a pendulum strong and steady.

Then FORTESCUE doth pull it through without delay or dawdlin';
Right proud I trow as they see him row are the merry men of Magdalen.

Then comes a name well known to fame, the great and gallant BOURKE;
Who ne'er was known fatigue to own, or neglect his share of work.

New zeal and life to each new stroke stout SELWYN doth impart,
And ever with fresh vigour, like Antaeus, forward start.

Then last, but not the least of all, to row the boat along,
They've got a bow whom all allow to be both STILL and strong.
No crew can quail, or ever fail to labour with a will,
When so much strength and spirits are supplied them by their STILL.

We've done our task - to you who ask the probable result
We more will speak, if you next week our Prophet will consult.

In 1866 PUNCH produced this cartoon which will come to fruition in 2015 when a Women's Boat Race is to be included -

Boat-Race of the Future - Drifting Down to the Start-Point

24: 1867, Saturday, 13th April

In 1867 OXFORD WON by half a length. Time 22 minutes and 40 seconds. Oxford 14, Cambridge 10

The start was delayed by steamers and by the time it did start the tide was nearly slack. Oxford won the toss and chose Middlesex.
Oxford rated 34 and Cambridge 38 - and this difference held throughout the race. Oxford were rowing long and Cambridge were rushing. Oxford soon had a lead.
Then Oxford kept their calm steady rate. At Mortlake Brewery, with the Oxford lead down to six feet they pushed at 38 and won by half a length.

The apparent closeness of this race may have been an illusion. Frank Willan in the Oxford boat was ill and they were trying not to put too much pressure on him. They just did all that was necessary.

The press did not agree -

right away to the finish it was the closest and most gamely contested eight-oared race on record.


W P Bowman, 10.11
J H Fish, 12, 1
E S Carter, 11.12
W W Wood, 12. 6
J C Tinne, 13. 4
F Crowder, 11.11
F Willan, 12. 3
R G Marsden, 11.11
C R W Tottenham, 8. 8

W H Anderson, 11. 0
J M Collard, 11. 4
J U Bourke, 12. 9
Hon J H Gordon, 12. 3
F E Cunningham, 12.12
J Still, 11.12
H Watney, 11. 0
W R Griffiths, 12. 0
A Forbes, 8. 2


An exciting account of the 1867 boatrace by 'Argonaut' in The Rowing Calendar, complete with collisions amongst the steamers and spectators overboard! -


A More miserable morning for a boat-race than that of Saturday, the 13th of April, could not be conceived; and the number of spectators that lined the banks of the Thames between Putney and Mortlake, under every disadvantage of wind and rain, was almost as remarkable as the event itself which they assembled to witness.

In consequence of the neap flood-tide not holding out as long as was expected on the Friday morning preceding the race-day, it was decided over night by the Presidents of the University Boat Clubs that the match should take place about eight o'clock a.m., so as to make sure of a tolerable flood; but the tide running much longer than was anticipated, such an early start was rendered unnecessary.

The appearance of the sky, which was anxiously watched in the evening, boded ill for the morrow, as the calm sunshiny weather of Friday — the only really fine day in the whole week, which was a very stormy one — was succeeded by a treacherous mist over the face of the moon, the vividly marked halo which surrounded the Queen of the Night foreshadowing but too truly the downpour to follow, and we were fully prepared for the worst.

We arose betimes in the morning, as our steamer was to leave the Temple Pier at seven o'clock, and the mournful soughing of the wind, as we eagerly scanned the lowering heavens at five a.m., fell dismally upon our ears, and warned us to provide against the coming deluge, which commenced to descend in full force about six o'clock.

Through the courtesy of T. S. Egan, Esq., we were berthed on board that gentleman's private boat the Childe Harold (Futer), one of the fastest of the boats of the Iron Steamboat Company, and as she carried but few passengers, and so ran light, we were enabled to view nearly the whole of the race from a most advantageous position, until our place was lost in a scrimmage off Barnes.

On our arrival at Putney, shortly before eight o'clock, we found a line of barges moored off the upper end of the Star and Garter Hotel, for the steamers to make fast to, and some little distance in front of them were stationed two lighters, from which the competing eights were to start. A stone's throw off, on the port bow, lay the umpire's boat, alongside the steamer of the Harbour Master, which had a kedge out astern; and by the efforts of the Thames Conservancy authorities, the Harbour Master, and the River Police, a clear course was preserved for the crews free from the intrusion of steamers, of which the usual quota attended.

The customary crowds were collecting ashore, and every available spot commanding a view of the course was soon occupied. The appearance of the banks was, however, curious, for almost every one had an umbrella up, and the river appeared to be fringed with a margin of black fungi.

The crews went down to the boatyards from their head-quarters about half-past eight o'clock, the Oxford men from the White Lion, and the Cambridge crew from the Star and Garter. They embarked from the London Rowing Club and Leander Club boathouses respectively, the Oxford eight being stowed in the former, and the new and commodious boathouse of the Leander Club being preferred by Cambridge to the less convenient one at Simmons's, which they have hitherto patronised.

The Oxford crew were first afloat, and were followed by their opponents; but just at this juncture two steamboats drove up out of the line, as far as the boathouses, and made no attempt to return. The crews consequently went ashore, and the President of the C. U. B. C. was compelled to go to the offenders in a waterman's skiff and threaten to postpone the race if they did not return to their places; this they ultimately did, but it was shameful to keep the men, who were just going to row, pottering about in the wet for nearly half an hour, like amphibious animals, half ashore and half afloat.

The rain continued to descend, and the wind blew a steady breeze from the westward off the Putney shore, varied by occasional puffs, causing righthanded or stroke-side labour up the first reach, and promising rough water where it met the tide in Corney and Barnes reaches.

Oxford, as usual, won the toss for side, and took the Fulham station, but as the Cambridge boat was to windward it is questionable whether there was any advantage in position at first. Above Barnes Bridge, however, the Middlesex berth made all the difference, and materially affected the issue of the race.

J. W. Chitty, Esq., of Exeter College, Oxford, was appointed umpire, but he was soon shut out from viewing the race, as the number of passengers in the head of his boat, Citizen P, a fast steamer, prevented her holding her way.

The course was from the station boats off the Duke's Head at Putney to a flag-boat moored as far above the Ship as the lighters were above the Aqueduct, and John Phelps, of Fulham, officiated as judge; Mr Edward Searle, of Lambeth, acting as starter.

We have previously said that we had an unusually good view of the match, and we are therefore the more able to chronicle without diffidence the various occurrences in the race, as we were just astern, but wide on the quarter, of the crews until passing the Crab Tree, and immediately astern of them up to Barnes, the Childe Harold travelling very fast, and being skilfully handled by her captain, Futer. At the same time it is most difficult to speak positively as to the exact number of feet by which either boat alternately led, unless on horseback alongside, as at Henley, and consequently we feel sure every allowance will be made for any trivial incorrectness in that respect into which we may inadvertently fall, for few, if any persons, except the crews themselves, know how the race was actually rowed throughout the whole course.

With these prefatory remarks we will endeavour to describe as faithfully as we may the most marvellous race of modern times — a race so intensely absorbing and so truly wonderful in its incidents that our feeble pen is quite incompetent to do justice to it. It must indeed have been witnessed to be appreciated, and many a lifetime may be lived before its equal or its like is seen again.

A few minutes before nine o'clock the ... crews were lying at the starting place, ready for the signal — Oxford on the Fulham, and Cambridge on the outer side. After the usual admonition the starter gave the word, and the ever memorable race of 1867 commenced. We cannot positively say whether the Oxford or the Cambridge boat first showed in front, because at the instant of the start our boat drove up with the flood, and the umpire's steamer hid all but the crews' heads and shoulders from our gaze.

However, when the two boats lay in readiness at the post they were not level, for the bow of the Oxford boat had an advantage of two or three feet of that of Cambridge, this being, perhaps, owing to the difference in the length of the headfasts of the two skiffs, from which the men appointed for the purpose held the sterns of the boats.

As the bows of the competing eights came in sight, clear of the umpire's boat and abeam of ourselves, Oxford led by about three feet, and the steady, business-like manner in which the rival crews had thus early got to work, without hurry or confusion, riveted our attention. When a couple of hundred yards had been traversed, Cambridge, rowing the quicker stroke, reduced the slight advantage of Oxford, and as the eights passed the Bishop's Creek they were on even terms.

From the Bishop's Creek to half-way up the Willows no perceptible advantage on either side could be discerned until the boats approached the site of the old half-mile post and the solitary tree which stands on the Fulham bank just below Craven Cottage; there Cambridge drew out a tolerable lead considering how evenly the rival eights had been travelling over the water, and just below the one tree led by a third of a length, or perhaps more.

At Craven Cottage the Oxford boat had come up alongside, and a ding dong race ensued as far as the Grass Wharf, just above Craven Cottage, which was followed by Oxford in her turn going to the front and leading by a quarter of a length below the grounds of Rose Bank. For a moment we fancied they were going away from Cambridge, but a closer inspection satisfied us that this was by no means the case, and as the eights made a long leg for the Soapworks, Cambridge again reduced her opponents' lead and showed ahead off the Crab Tree: a short distance farther and they were once more level.

Both boats kept rather too close to the Soapworks corner, considering that they had agreed — so we understand — to go through the centre arch of Hammersmith-bridge; and, consequently, as they approached that structure, they were obliged to sheer out into midstream to clear the steamboat dummy across which the tide sets very awkwardly; so much so indeed that half way between the Soapworks and the bridge their bows were pointed diagonally across the river, and athwart the tide, towards the Middlesex foot of the bridge itself.

Oxford here — that is, two hundred yards below it — led by four or five feet, but Cambridge made an effort, again collared them just before reaching the arch and shot under it with an advantage of about three feet in 7min. 49sec. from the start, amidst a roar of "Cambridge" from the multitudes looking on, and a repeated clapping of hands, which to us afloat sounded like a continued crackling of sticks in a flame, or a spattering fire of musketry, though of course not so loud.

We merely mention the circumstance from its peculiarity; and we may take the opportunity of stating that a terrible scrimmage occurred at this time amongst the passenger steamers, tugs, and Co., just below the bridge, collisions being the rule; in the midst of which a cavalry soldier fell overboard from one of the boats. As the man rose he discovered the advancing and revolving floats of a paddlewheel coming straight for him, whereupon he instinctively put his arms over his head to protect it, and disappeared beneath the wheel. Fortunately, and no less miraculously, he was not killed, but came up again abaft the wheel, as well as could be expected after his pounding, and was picked up by the Camellia close astern, his own boat not condescending to stop for him.

Several other accidents happened, a second scrimmage occurring just above Barnes Bridge and more passengers going overboard, several narrowly escaping a ducking — ourselves amongst the number — but we are not aware that any life was lost, which was more by luck than by judgment.

To return to the race, from which we have most unpardonably wandered. Immediately after passing the Suspension Bridge Oxford drew up level, and, if anything, led a trifle off Biffen's boat-building-yard; but the Cambridge crew were not to be shaken off, and effort succeeded effort in both boats past the Lead Mills, the Doves, and Chiswick Hall, until the bend to Chiswick Eyot was reached, with the result as uncertain as ever.

The inside position opposite the Oil Mills told in favour of Cambridge, and they entered the rough water in Corney Reach, leading Oxford by nearly half a length. The superior weight and higher feather of the Oxonians now began to tell a tale, the low feather of the Cambridge crew causing several of the oars to hit the waves between the strokes, and rather more than half-way up the Eyot the two boats were again level, the contest being most severe.

Off Chiswick Ferry Oxford obtained a slight lead, but Mr Forbes bored his adversary out as the competing boats came abreast of Chiswick Church, and, calling upon his crew for a spurt, endeavoured by sheering off to the left round the corner, to take the Oxford crew's water — this being the turning point in the race, because, whichever crew succeeded in obtaining the Middlesex side above the White Cottage would benefit not only by having the inside berth all round the bend to the winning post, but would be to windward.

To this attempt on the part of Cambridge the Oxford coxswain was fully alive, and calling upon his crew for a spurt to answer the effort of his rivals, prevented them taking his water, and as the two boats passed the White Cottage in question Cambridge led by barely half a length.

Off the bathing place in the Duke of Devonshire's meadows Oxford again drew up level with Cambridge, and, despite all the efforts of the latter, in their turn led half-way between the bathing place and Barnes Railway Bridge.

Opposite the Bull's Head the Oxford crew appeared to be drawing gradually away, but a magnificent spurt from Mr Griffiths and his whole crew brought the Cambridge boat up alongside once more, some two hundred yards before reaching the bridge.

Both crews were close together in under the the Middlesex bank, and just as they shot the shore arch Mr Tottenham bored the Cambridge crew out as his boat yet again went to the fore by nearly three parts of a length. At this crisis the after stroke-side oars of Oxford and the forward bow-side oars of Cambridge must have been in dangerous proximity, but we don't think they touched; if they had done so Mr Tottenham would have been clearly to blame; for as both crews were making for the shore arch, through which there was plenty of room for them, he was not justified in edging out and jamming Mr Forbes.

As the two eights emerged clear of the bridge, the bow of the Cambridge boat was about even with No. 7 in the Oxford crew, and Mr Griffiths putting on another of his truly brilliant spurts, the Cantabs came up off the White Hart handover-hand with their opponents, who were utterly unable to draw away, but who, nevertheless, kept to their work in the most collected and determined manner.

The excitement amongst the spectators, who had assembled wherever standing room could be found, was most intense as the boats were rapidly approaching the goal, the issue of the race appearing as uncertain as ever.

Off Godfrey's, at Mortlake, the Cambridge crew, who had been gradually making up their leeway, were almost upon even terms with their antagonists, and at Messrs Phillips and Wigan's brewery drew up level; it is even said led by a foot or two.

Near the Ship Cambridge were thrown out of their course by a sailing barge tacking across the river in her beat to windward, thus losing some ground; but on getting straight again and approaching the flag-boat, which was moored some distance above the Ship, they, with a shout, made a final and a desperate effort to overhaul Oxford — who had the best of the course round the corner — but without success, and were defeated on the post by barely half a length — the bow of the Cambridge boat being level with No. 4 in the Oxford crew — after one of the grandest races ever rowed between the Universities, and certainly the most magnificent we have yet witnessed in our not limited experience.

We esteem it a moral victory for Cambridge, although a practical defeat; and, above all, as a victory over herself it is the more welcome.

We cannot speak positively as to the phases of the race after passing the White Hart at Barnes, as a tug and one or two other steamers came into collision with the Childe Harold, knocking her right athwart the river, broadside on, and we were obliged to look after our own personal safety, the eights meanwhile disappearing round the osier beds; but we believe the facts to be in the main as we have stated them. For this reason, likewise, we were prevented taking the actual time of the race, for when we again caught sight of the Oxford crew they had stopped rowing, and were some distance above the flag-boat. We were, however, enabled to note the time to Hammersmith Bridge, which was 7min. 49sec. by our chronograph, by Dent, of Cockspur-street. At the same time we are given to understand that the actual duration of the race was 22min. 40sec. The crews both rowed in boats built by the Salters, of Oxford.


The race does not appear to have been the "good thing" for Oxford it was asserted to be, and the crew who it was said were not in the race, who "would never see Oxford," who were declared by all the watermen and ninety-nine hundredths of the amateurs to "stand no chance whatever," and upon whom "clever" people were ready to lay their 7's to 4 and 1000's to 500 (offered), were only defeated by a bare half-length, after racing for upwards of four miles.

We now turn with pleasure to offer our meed of congratulation to the two crews who so nobly fought out the evenly-balanced battle of April 13, 1867, in which the splendour of the victory was hardly greater than the glory and honour of the defeat. From the very commencement of the race we were strongly impressed with the cool determination and veteran precision with which the two crews set themselves down to row the match steadily out from end to end.

There were no signs of excessive speed for a short distance, to be succeeded by a collapse over a longer one, no scrambling for a temporary and evanescent lead, but a firm purpose in either crew to do their work honestly, carefully, and without shirking throughout the whole contest, preserving their form and retaining their presence of mind; and the finish was worthy of the race.

The Oxford crew as regards style were, in our opinion, far inferior to the winners of 1861, 1862, 1863, and even to those of 1864 and 1865. The successful eight of last year were big, powerful men, but rough withal, and they sorely lacked good coaching: the same may be said of this year's crew, and perhaps with even greater justice. On their arrival at Putney it was manifest that they had been under no inconsiderable disadvantages in that they had been practising without a coach on account of the banks of the river being overflowed by the floods.

They were rough, they were anything but together, there was little or no swing in the boat, and they rowed a short stroke; but they were strong and heavy, and they had p1enty of material to work upon for the fortnight that remained to them, that their time was not thrown away was clearly demonstrated by the rapid improvement they made from day to day, but when they did come to the post there was a great falling off from the stamp of their predecessors.

Their catch of the water at the first part was particularly good, but the stroke was not rowed well through as of yore, albeit there was "dash" enough in the rowing to satisfy the greatest stickler for that essential acquisition. Their feather was unusually high, and although it stood them in good stead in the rough water in Corney Reach, yet, taken all in all, they suffered considerably when contrasted with the best crews of Messrs W. M. Hoare, of Exeter, and M. Brown, of Trinity.

As regards the merits of individual oarsmen, we may notice favourably the rowing of Messrs Bowman, Wood, and Tinne, of University College, and Willan, of Exeter, the last of whom practically rowed stroke — at any rate the crew rowed to him and not to Mr Marsden, whose qualifications for the after-thwart of a University crew were by no means apparent to us.

The rowing of Cambridge during the race was a treat to witness, and without wishing to disparage the prowess of the winners, we cannot help saying that the losers pulled far away the better of the two. We admit that they were not so strong, but they rowed cleaner and better through, although they had not such an early or firm grip of the water as their opponents. They were better together, and, as far as fashion goes, approximated more nearly to perfection than any Cambridge crew we have seen for years. Their feather was low, and in this respect resembled London rowing, but it bothered them in the lumpy water off Chiswick Eyot.

Their spurting was magnificent, and testified to their condition no less than to their pluck: a little more strength or a little less wind might have turned the scale, so long trembling in the balance, in their favour.

We feel some compunction in speaking critically of the merits of individuals in the Cambridge crew, but of the whole eight — even if not of the whole sixteen competitors — commend us to Mr Gordon: we could not find a fault in his rowing. Mr Griffiths rowed with bis usual steadiness and pluck, but his form was scarcely up to that he displayed in 1866, neither was Mr Watney's. Mr Still was greatly improved from last year; and Mr Bourke rowed strong, but a little out of shape occasionally, and scarcely so well as at Henley.

1867: Boating Life at Oxford has a fictional account of the boat race.

The University Boat-Race is quite the water Derby of the year.

Eight or nine years since you might go, as the saying is, "comfortably", and calculate on a pretty select audience. Don could meet don on the banks of the river in honour of whose "silvery tide" they had written so many copies of Latin verses in their youth, and congratulate each other that "for one day at least in the year, London is cognisant of the existence of the Universities".

Now everything is changed. London is not only "cognisant", but it will go to look for itself; and every one, from the clubman to the potboy, backs his colour. Once by far the largest number of "casuals" stuck to the light blue; but successive defeats have effected a highly successful elimination; and the cabby mostly asks for "a bit of the darker stuff, Marm", when he buys the wherewithal to deck his whip.

The very training of the dark and light blues is watched daily for the probationary fortnight by larger crowds than were once wont to go and see the contest itself.

However early the start, the road from Kensington to Hammersmith Bridge is now one stream of vehicles reduced to foot's pace, and the bridge itself almost reels under the weight of the multitude, who prefer an "oversight" of the eights to any Mortlake finish.

Thousands of both sexes stood in the pouring rain on Saturday, all along the banks and especially crowded the sandhills for a better sight. In some parts of the metropolis no cabs could be got, and we heard of ladies starting soon after it was light and walking six or seven miles to the river-side and then back again.

If Coventry has the making of the ribbons it can have known no distress for months past. Few Britons, however they may love a Derby favourite, and reverence the prophet who stands him, carry his colours at their button-hole to Epsom. They may wear cravats that tell of their pride in the past, but no rosettes to indicate their belief in the future. It is different with the water Derby. Nearly every servant lass declares herself by a bow in her cap. The budding juvenile coaxes a handkerchief of the colour he espouses out of his mother, and the Adullamite dog at Hammersmith Bridge marches about for days before the event with light blue round his neck and dark blue on his tail. Sundry bipeds did far worse than that at Mortlake. They were Cambridge till the race was over, and then they whipped Oxford reserve ribbons out of their breast-coat pockets.

The Universities first met, at Henley-on-Thames, in 1829, and Oxford won. Since then twenty-two [24!] races have been rowed between them; and although in 1860 Cambridge were three ahead the fates have been against them ever since; and strange to say Oxford has always won the toss. Some croakers predicted that Cambridge would rest on its oars until another generation, of stronger thews and a less flashy stroke, arose to do battle; but, more especially after their very honourable defeat of last year, this was not to be thought of.

Mr Griffiths took his seat again as stroke, and put two eights in practice; and Oxford despite the floods and other hindrances prepared to do battle. Never did newspaper correspondents keep "a more fast eye" on the men; and the slightest slackness or lack of science had a dozen chroniclers.

It was not until 1932 that Cambridge regained the lead - and they have held it ever since

25: 1868, Saturday, 4th April

In 1868 OXFORD WON by 6 lengths. Time 20 minutes and 56 seconds. Oxford 15, Cambridge 10

Every Saturday training and race report

Cambridge had problems. A tragedy deprived them of James Gordon (4 in 1867) only six weeks before the race. The Oxford record of this says:
in consequence of the death of the Hon. J. H. Gordon, a member of the Cambridge crew, the C.U.B.C. wrote during the practice to withdraw their challenge, but on receipt of a sympathetic but urgent letter from the O.U.B.C., and after consultation with several old Blues, they finally consented to row the race.
And Cambridge also had problems in finding coaches. Eventually Tom Egan came back from retirement for the last three weeks. This may have been a great turning point - for it was Cambridge's failure to follow the Tom Egan style that had allowed the Oxford run of success. Two years later the Goldie era started - and it was Egan's style that they built on.

Cambridge won the toss and chose Middlesex. After an initial lead Oxford caught up and overtook them. Towards Hammersmith there was a thick mist and the steering became difficult. Oxford rowed too close to Surrey at the start of Crabtree reach losing some of their lead.
However they held on and eventually Cambridge broke. At Hammersmith Bridge Oxford led by two lengths and then Cambridge caught a bad crab along Corney reach, completely stopping the boat.


[ If this is not just simply artistic imagination Oxford in the lead, starting on the Surrey station, appear to have gone right over to Middlesex to utilise the final bend. My guess is that since they won by six lengths artistic licence has placed the boats closer than they were actually at this point ]

Oxford won by six lengths.
This was Charles Tottenham's record fifth coxing victory.

W D Benson, 10.13
A C Yarborough, 11. 8
R S Ross of Bladensburg, 11. 8
R G Marsden, 11.13
J C Tinne, 13. 7
F Willan, 12. 5
E S Carter, 11. 8
S D Darbishire, 11. 3
C R W Tottenham, 8. 7

W H Anderson, 11. 2
J P Nicholls, 11. 3
J G Wood, 12. 6
W H Lowe, 12. 4
H T Nadin, 12.11
W F McMichael, 12. 1
J Still, 12. 1
W J Pinckney, 10.10
T D Warner, 8. 4

26: 1869, Saturday, 17th March

In 1869 OXFORD WON by 3 lengths. Time 20 minutes and 4 seconds. Oxford 16, Cambridge 10

Oxford were favourites. Cambridge were still struggling to move on from their 1860s scrappy style. They brought in George Morrison the old Oxford President (1860,1861) and successful coach of Oxford during the 1860s for the last few weeks. Their stroke was J H T Goldie. It seemed Cambridge was going well, but then P.H.Mellor (No 7) developed a quinsy and had to withdraw only four days before the race. J Still (7 in 1868) rowed in his place but it was too much to ask any crew - and Oxford won again.

S H Woodhouse, 10.13
R Tahourdin, 11.11
T S Baker, 12. 8
F Willan, 12. 2
J C Tinne, 13.10
A C Yarborough, 11.11
W D Benson, 11. 7
S D Darbishire, 11. 8
F H Hall, 7. 7

J A Rushton, 11. 5
J H Ridley, 11.10
J W Dale, 11.12
F J Young, 12. 4
W F MacMichael, 12. 4
W H Anderson, 11. 4
J Still, 12. 1
J H T Goldie, 12. 1
H E Gordon, 7. 8

Oxford University Crew, 1869 [with Woodgate as Cox and not F H Hall]
Copyright David Rice

Cambridge University Crew, 1869 [with Mellor and not J Still]

Click for Hammersmith Bridge
Harvard v Oxford in 1869