1839: The Sporting Magazine: Maidenhead Regatta took place just three weeks after the first Henley Regatta -
The inhabitants of Maidenhead, following in the wake of the spirited denizens of Henley-on-Thames, and the Reaches of Taplow and Clifden being eminently calculated for a similar experiment, clubbed the needful, and provided two Silver Cups, one of 50g[uinea]s. and a second of 25g[uinea]s., to be rowed for on the 4th of July, the first by amateur crews in eight-oared cutters, and the second by four-oared boats, open to residents in the towns of Windsor, Eton, Maidenhead, Marlow, Henley, and Reading.
The former, [ie the Eights competition] unfortunately, was "no go", for thongh it was anticipated that the Etonians would have contended with the Leander, the only boat entered, the time passed sub silentio, and the disappointment not only to the Club, who had sent their boat up the previous day, but to numerous amateurs from London and from all the towns and villages surrounding the scene of action, was excessive. The Stewards too were dreadfully chagrined, as they had made every arrangement to gratify the numerous visitors congregated on the occasion.
The [Eton] Collegians are never backward in accepting any matches of prowess and skill with the oar or the bat; but in this instance it was understood that the Governor (Dr. Hawtrey) had put his veto on their engaging in a "public Match". In this dilemma, with only one entry and there must have been two to constitute a start the Stewards did all in their power to lessen the disappointment; and although the "Great Match" was not forthcoming, several minor ones were got up for the nonce, and all passed off with greater zest than might under such circumstances have been anticipated.
For the 2 ½ gs. Cup, three boats contested the Lady of the Lake of Maidenhead, the Star of Maidenhead, and the Albion of Henley.
For the first heat, the Lady and the Star rowed, starting near Formosa Island, down stream to near Boulter's Lock, rather more than a mile and a half. It was all Lombard-street to a China orange, the Lady going a-head at starting, which she kept to the finish, and arrived at the goal 200 yards in advance of her opponent.
The Star afterwards tried her strength with the Albion, and was again beaten.
Then came the "tug of war" between the two winning boats; and this made ample amends for the two previous bouts. It was contested oar for oar; but the Lady getting entangled in the weeds in "the Gulls", the Albion went a-head, and, though severely pressed by her antagonist, maintained first place to the finish.
For a prize of 5 sov[reign]s., five scullers contested won by T. Gurney, of Eton, J. Haverley, of that ilk, second.
A prize of 5 sovs. for an oars-match was the next object of interest, and five boats appeared to start; but when it was known that Charles Campbell of Lambeth, the Champion of the River, and his brother George, who ranks first-rate among the light-weights (having gone up with a liberal patron of the London River), had resolved to have a shy, two boats rather sulkily withdrew from competition.
The Campbells, soon after starting, went a-head, and their opponents had not the shadow of a chance; H. Goatley of London and F. Gurney of Eton second, and received 2 sovs.; R. Brades and J. Haverley, of Eton, last.
A Match between eight punters terminated the sports, the Stewards expressing their determination " to do better" next year.
Maidenhead Rowing Club
Right (east, Taplow) bank just below Maidenhead Bridge and above Maidenhead Railway Bridge.
Maidenhead Rowing Club website
The origins of Maidenhead Rowing Club are not clear, but records of Henley Royal Regatta indicate that there was an entry from ‘The Star Club, Maidenhead’ in 1840,
and as the club’s symbol is a green star, there may be some direct connection. The very first Rowing Almanack gives details of a regatta held in Maidenhead in 1860
and is known that the present club was in existence around the 1870s.
Until 1998 the club was located in a timber and corrugated iron structure sandwiched between the Thames Riviera Hotel and the A4 road bridge. This was last extended in 1926 and by the 1990s was in a poor condition.
However, in 1998, with the help of lottery funding, the club moved to a large modern purpose-built clubhouse on the other side of the river in Taplow, between the A4 Bridge and Brunel's railway bridge.
Crews row on the stretch between Boulter's lock and Bray lock, a distance of approximately 3000m. The move to the new larger premises in Taplow allowed the club to actively recruit new members, especially from local schools. Membership has nearly quadrupled since the move and now stands at well over 300.
"rowing can be curiously fatiguing!"
Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group - restoring old channels in Maidenhead.
William Morris, Putney to Kelmscot -
Hove to on Left bank just above Bray Lock. ... Washed up and started again at 5 o'clock.
Towed into the middle of Maidenhead Regatta.
The 'Ark' was sculled majestically through a crowd of inferior craft and passed under Maidenhead Bridge not without dignity amidst considerable excitement. Hove to above the Bridge whilst Cornell Price (boteler) went to the Post Office for his letters; party still rather flustered owing to the excitement of passing through the Regatta.
Waited half an hour for Price and then started up the lock without him. Left Maidenhead Lock [Boulters] all hands on board.
1832: June, the Sporting Magazine -
GRAND ROWING MATCH BETWEEN ETON AND WESTMINSTER.
... a match between eight Gentlemen of Eton College and eight of Westminster took place at Maidenhead.
Towards the afternoon thousands of people, including a phalanx of beauty from the surrounding neighbourhood, as far as London and Oxford, arrived at the scene of action, and about half-past four the town and banks of the River were crowded with anxious spectators.
The Etonians left Windsor in barouches-and-four, chaises, gigs, &c.; and every species of vehicle within a few miles of the town was hired for the occasion. Upon their arrival at the Orkney Arms they were enthusiastically cheered. The Westminsters had arrived two hours before them.
They immediately manned their boats and proceeded to the starting post. The Etonians having won the toss, took their station on the Eton side of the River. They were dressed in blue-striped cotton jerseys, with cape to match, and white trowsers. The Westminsters occupied a similar station on the opposite side of the River, dressed in plain white shirts.
As the Westminster crew had been practising together for three months, and the Etonians had begun rowing only a week before, also from the superior size and supposed strength of the former, it was generally thought that the match would be won easily by them, and some odds as high as 10 to 1 were offered upon the event.
Upon the firing of a gun the two boats started from the buoy below Maidenhead Bridge, to row to a flag-post placed in the River below Monkey Island, and back, altogether a distance of seven miles. From the first stroke of the oars the Eton boat evidently gained, and on turning the buoy was about 100 yards ahead.
It reached Maidenhead Bridge in 35 minutes, winning the match by nearly half a mile. It is difficult to describe the loud and repeated cheers with which they were received on rowing through the arch of the bridge, and indeed all the time they were engaged in the match.
The winning boat (The Britannia, belonging to Hester, water- Man, at Windsor) was built by Honey and Archer ; the other (The Challenge) by Roberts.
It must be remembered that the Westminsters were beat on their own water (at Putney) two years ago. It is to be hoped that they are now convinced of their decided inferiority to the Etonians in the art of rowing, notwithstanding they were "big enough to eat the Eton boy", as the knowing ones among the Westminster watermen sagaciously observed. - It should, however, be taken into account, that a start got at first in the narrow waters is not very easily beaten.