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1840 - 1849, HENLEY REGATTA

1840: The Henley Regatta was extended to two days

The Leander Club won the Grand Challenge Cup

1841: Cambridge Subscription Rooms won the Grand

1842: Cambridge Subscription Rooms again won the Grand in 8:30

1843: Oxford University B.C. (with 7 oars) won the Grand in 9:00 !

Oxford University with seven oarsmen, (the eighth was ill), defeated a Cambridge Rooms eight
[ As a Cambridge man I can only point out that Oxford must have been aware that had they had eight men they would have gone round in circles - and were therefore lucky to win by this fluke ... ]

Cambridge had withdrawn so that their crew might be used to strengthen that of the Cambridge Rooms, who, if they won this year, would become the possessors of the Challenge Cup. In the final heat the O.U.B.C. and the Cambridge Rooms were left in, but Fletcher Menzies, stroke of the Oxford boat, who had been ill for some time but stuck manfully to his work, fainted as he got into the boat.

Finding it quite impossible that he should row, the crew appealed to be allowed to put in a substitute, but this the stewards, in face of their new rule [against substitution], could not allow. After some discussion, at the proposition we are told of Mr. Lowndes, the crew determined to row with seven men, and put G. E. Hughes from ' seven ' to stroke, and brought R. Lowndes from ' bow ' to ' seven.'

The [Cambridge] Rooms at first refused to row against an incomplete crew, but were told that if they did not go to the start the race would certainly be awarded to Oxford.

From this point Tom Hughes, prince of story-tellers where an athletic feat is to be described, shall take up the tale. It is to be found in his Memoirs of a Brother, the stroke in this race.

I can well remember the indignation and despair with which the final announcement was received. However, there was no help for it, and we ran down the bank to the starting place by the side of our crippled boat, with sad hearts, cheering them to show our appreciation of their pluck, but without a spark of hope as to the result.

When they turned to take up their place for the start we turned also, and went a few hundred yards up the towing-path so as to get start enough to enable us to keep up with the race. The signal gun was fired, and we saw the oars flash in the water, and began trotting up the bank, with our heads turned over our shoulders.

First one and then another cried out that "we are holding our own", that "the Light Blues are not gaining".

In another minute they were abreast of us, close together, but the dark blue flag the least bit in front. A third of the course was over, and we rushed along, and saw the lead improved foot by foot, almost inch by inch. Hope came back, and the excitement was running painful.

In another minute, as they turned the corner and got into the straight reach, the crowd became too dense for running. We could not keep up, and could only follow with our eyes and shouts, as we pressed up towards the bridge. Before we could reach it the gun fired, and the dark blue flag was run up, showing that Oxford had won.

Then followed one of those temporary fits of delirium which sometimes seize Englishmen, the sight of which makes us slow to disbelieve any crazy story which is told of the doings of other people in moments of intense excitement.

The crew had positively to fight their way into the hotel, and barricade themselves there, to escape being carried round Henley on our shoulders. The enthusiasm, frustrated in this direction, burst out in all sorts of follies, of which you may take this as a specimen. A heavy toll-gate was pulled down, and thrown over the bridge into the river, by a mob of young Oxonians, headed by a small, decorous, shy man in spectacles, who probably never pulled an oar in his life, and had gone temporarily mad with excitement, and I am confident would, at that moment, have led his followers not only against the Henley constables, but against a regiment with fixed bayonets. Fortunately no harm came of it but a few broken heads and black eyes, and the local authorities, making allowances for the provocation, were lenient at the next petty sessions.

Canon Lowndes, the 'seven' in this crew, shortly before his death sent a description of the race, which has been used in the early part of this account, and added to it this note:

It has been commonly reported that the crew were much done up. So far from this being the case, Hughes and I raced up to the inn where Menzies was lying, and very nearly killed him by rushing into his room.

1844: Diamond Challenge Sculls started.
The first winner of the Diamonds was T.B. Bumpsted (Scullers Club, London) in 10:32
The Etonian Club, Oxford won the Grand in 8:25

1844: "Illustrated London News" -


After the excitement and bustle of the Thames Regatta, which has just closed, the quiet but recherché meeting at Henley-on-Thames was a very happy relief. Of all the towns in England there is not one to which, as regards a flourishing regatta, Henley ought to yield the palm of pre-eminence. Placed in the midst of scenery the most delightful, with a beautiful reach of water, admirably calculated for such sport, and with a population of whom the majority are almost daily indulging in the manly and scientific exercise of rowing, it can form no matter of surprise that this annual event should constitute one of the chief attractions of the season.

"The Diamond Sculls", and the other scullers' contests were, as an encouragement to rowing, open to all grades within five miles of Henley, the award of victory being a coat and silver badge. These, with the four-oared race for the Silver Challenge Cup, formed the amusements of the day.

A speedy transit from the metropolis by the Great Western, and a short drive, which exhibits some of the most striking beauties of this enchanting district, brought a great many Londoners to Henley, while the attendance from the surrounding neighbourhood was very numerous ; for although it had poured with rain from an early hour in the morning in London, there was little or none of it in the neighbourhood of Henley.

About the time the sports commenced, the bridge was covered with handsome equipages, and hundreds of fashionably dressed persons had congregated on the stands erected for visitors on tbe towing path, and in the meadows on the Berks shore.

In the grand stand we observed Lord Camoys, the Earl of Falmouth, Sir George and Lady Napier, Lady Dungarvon, Lady Caroline Pechell, Sir E. C. East, Sir H. Lambert, Major and Miss Cowper, W. S. Freeman, Esq., J. Fane, Esq., and others of the nobility and gentry.

The races commenced at half-past two, each contest being from the island, against the stream, up to Henley-bridge, a distance of about a mile and a third.

The Diamond Sculls: a Presentation Prize for Gentlemen Amateurs only.
First Heat.
Mr. Conant, St. John's College, Oxford .. Purple 1
Mr. E. S Kennedy, Scullers' Club, London .. .. Green 2
Mr. A. M. M'Cleod, the Oriental Club .. .. Pink 3
Mr. Kennedy took the lead for a short distance, followed by Mr. Conant, Mr. M'Cleod following in their wake. In about a hundred yards or to Mr. Conant drew ahead, and won by two or three lengths.
Second Heat.
Mr. T. B. Bumpstead, the Leander Club .. .. Pink 1
Mr. E. G. Peacock, the Scullers' Club .. .. Green 2
Mr. J. B. Wigram, Norwich .. .. Purple 3
It was a capital start, and they were scull and scull for some time, when Mr. Bumpatead gradually drew away from hia opponent, Mr. Peacock, who had before gained a slight lead, and won by five or six lengths.
Third Heat.
Mr. A. A. Julias, the Leander Club .. .. Green 1
Mr. J. Innes Pocock, Oxford Aquatic Club .. Purple 2
It was a very hollow race. Mr. Julius drew ahead and kept it, winning easily.
Fourth Heat.
Mr. Morgan, Christchurch, Oxford: Purple 1
Mr. A. Ive, Dreadnought Club, Henley: Green 2
[Mr Morgan] Won with the most perfect ease.

The stewards' Challenge Club.
Open to gentlemen's crews established at least a twelvemonth previous to the time of entry.
The Royal Academy boat, which had been entered for this race, was withdrawn. The St. George's Boat Club, who are the holders, of course, did not contend in the trial heat. [Oxford University Boat Club v Oxford Subscription Rooms, London]
The University boat was the favourite at some odds and the race was anxiously looked for. They made a very excellent start and were oar and oar for a few seconds, when the University gradually shot away, and although their opponents rowed in a very plucky manner, they were unable to overtake them. The University won by three lengths.

The racing on Wednesday was of a very superior description, indeed it surpassed that of former years. The attendance, too, was first-rate, Including the nobility and gentry residing in the district, with hundreds from various towns in the neighbourhood. The proprietor of Phyllis Court and Gardens had handsomely given permission to the stewards to issue tickets for company on his grounds, and a brilliant assemblage, consisting chiefly of ladies, availed themselves of the polite offer, while the shore on the other side and the bridge could boast of many handsome equipages. The sports commenced with,
The Town Challenge Cup.
The Aquatic Boat Club, Henley, Light Blue v The Albion Club, Henley
A gallant race succeeded a fine start. The Albion, who had the Berks shore, appeared to lead by a trifle for a few seconds when they became oar and oar. The Aquatic then drew slowly away from their opponents, but were again pressed hard by the Albion, who kept them at great labour the whole way and shortened the trifling distance between them at coming in. The Aquatic won by a length only amidst the most vociferous cheering.

The Diamond Sculls: A Presentation Prize for Gentlemen Amateurs.
In the trial heats of the preceding day, there were four races, and necessarily a corresponding number of winners. Mr. Julius, of the Scullers' Club, who had defeated Mr. J. J. Pocock, of the Oxford Aquatic Club, however declined the contest, and the race was left to the other three gentlemen.
Mr. T. B. Bumpstead, Leander Club .. .. Pink 1
Mr. Morgan, Christchurch, Oxford : Green 2
Mr. Conant St. John's, Oxford : Purple 3
This was the greatest scullers' contest that has been witnessed for a great length of time. Mr. Morgan had the Berks shore, and on the signal being given, the whole three started away at the instant, Mr. Morgan then had a trifling lead, but Mr. Bumpstead waa soon alongside of him, and for a few strokes they were again abreast of each other. Mr. Morgan again drew a trifle in advance, but his opponent was in a moment abreast of him, and then led slightly. Alternately the gentlemen led, until both became exhausted, and Mr. Morgan fouling his skull[sic] as he neared the bridge, did not appear to have power enough to replace it, and Mr. Bumpstead, who was almost level with him, by [a last?] effort contrived to run into the first place, and won by three-quarters of a length only. It is almost unnecessary to add that both were much distressed.

The Stewards' Challenge Cup, for Gentlemen on Four-oared Boats.
The University Boat Club purple v The St George's Boat Club White with red cross.
The St. George's Club were the holders, but despite the most plucky [?] were unable to retain possession of the honorary distinction; for a few strokes only the crews were together, but the pulling on either hand was beautiful. The University boat gradually then went in advance, and won by nearly two lengths.

The District Challenge Cup.
The Windsor and Eton Boat Club: Light Blue v The Britannia Club, Reading: Pink and White.
Throughout this was a closely contested race, in which it was difficult to determine which was the better crew. After rowing half the distance oar and oar, the Windsor men contrived to get the lead, and won by a length.

The Grand Challenge Cup for eight oared boats, Gentlemen Amateurs.
The Oxford University, as the winners of last year, were the holders of the cup on the present occasion, but their names were withdrawn, as we understand there were many gentlemen rowing in the Eton boat, which belonged to the other Oxford crew, added to which the period fixed for this regatta, we believe was somewhat inconvenient to many of the Oxonians who wished to leave town.
The Etona, Oxford: Light Blue v The Caius College, Oxford: Blue and White.
The Etona Club, Oxford, won by a length and a half only.

The grand heat of the Henley Coat and Badge was then rowed, and was won with the most perfect ease by William Stone, purple.

Henley Regatta, 1844
Henley Regatta, 1844

1845: Cambridge University B.C. won the Grand in 8:30
The Diamonds was won by S. Wallace (Leander Club) in 11:30
Outriggers first used

The Sportman's Magazine of Life in London and the Country -

Henley Regatta, 1845
The Oxford University Boat - The Cambridge University Boat
Going the wrong way above the finish (then the bridge) but - artistic licence?


... Hail then to Fawley-Court, to Henley crowned with "antique towers"; and last, and not least, hail to "sedge-crowned Father Thames!"

The clear breezy morning - the beautiful views on "The silver stream in emerald margent set" - the gay company assembled - and the orderly and excellent arrangement of the whole - eminently entitle the regatta of this year to our most unqualified praise. The beautiful reach of Henley, its delightful meadows and banks, and in fact every spot from which a sight of the river could be obtained, was crowded to excess by admiring and delighted spectators.

We should not care to possess that man's spirit who could quarrel or complain of the philosophy of such sport as this. There can be little of the milk of human kindness - little of the good feeling and fellowship which should exist between man and man, in one who sees in harmless amusements aught but a relief from the dull routine of every-day life, and escapes, though it be but for a day, from the everlasting walls of brick of the city, to the brighter sunshine and purer air of the lovely slopes and vales of Henley.

With some degree of pride, and with considerable pleasure, we present the trophies strenuously contended for and bravely won on the smooth flowing course between the delightfully picturesque Island at Fawley-Court, and the much admired bridge of the happily-situated town, a view of which [is above].

Won by the CUBC

Dead heat OUBC & St George's, London


Won by Henley Aquatic Club

Henley is entered from the London Road by a very handsome stone bridge, of five arches, as appears in our illustration, the key-stone of the central arch being ornamented by sculptured masks, from the elegant chisel of Mr.[actually Mrs.] Damer. The prospects from this spot are in the highest degree picturesque and beautiful. The church is a very handsome building, of Gothic structure; its tower is lofty, having a taper turret at each angle, which surmounts the battlements of the town to a considerable height.

Henley, with its attractive and enticing bill of fare - was the loadstone[sic] on Friday and Saturday last; and its regatta, though yet numbering but eight summers, has already fixed its annual recurrence, as an epoch of important interest in aquatic annals. As a popular recreation, there can be but little doubt that river sports, congenial as they are to the notions of this sea-girt isle, deservedly rank next to the sports of the turf; and, indeed, where they are conducted upon the principles of the races at Henley, and with practitioners of such a quality, may even lay claim to superiority. In horse-racing, from time immemorial, there have been certain great stakes periodically run for; but in boating there has been nothing, until late years, which possessed the feature of a great display. While the one sport could boast of its Craven, its Epsom, its Ascot, Goodwood, Doncaster, and many other meetings, the River had but little or nothing to recommend it to the attention of the pleasure-seekers, save perhaps its Silver Sculls' contest, or occasionally a struggle between the rival universities.

Henley, it is true, had been the chosen spot for gentlemen of the colleges to occasionally dispute the aquatic pride of places, but until eight years since, there was no fixed or great meeting, when the then residents, aided by the patronage of some of the leading gentlemen upon the river, got up a succession of prizes in two days sport, and so conducted as to leave no doubt that with the same degree of attention and regularity apparent in their arrangements, that it must be in future looked forward to as one of the great aquatic events of the season.

Thus far as mere matter of record, for which we doubt not many of the readers of the Sportsman's Magazine will thank us. We had thought of giving engravings of the "Silver Wherry" and "Diamond Sculls"; but upon second thoughts, influenced also by the crowded state of our columns, the artist decide that these pretty little subjects of honourable emulation were scarcely sufficiently interesting to be made the subjects of drawings. These are accordingly left until another rolling year shall bring round the agreeable excitement and the healthful diversions of another Henley Regatta; may its glories, its success, and its attractions increase in secula seculorum, as the parsons say.

Henley Regatta, 1845

1846: The Thames Club, London won the Grand in 8:15
The Diamonds was won by E.G. Moon (Magdalen College, Oxford)

1847: Oxford University B.C. won the Grand in 8:00
The Diamonds was won by W. Maule (First Trinity Boat Club, Cambridge) in 10:45

1848: Oxford University B.C. won the Grand in 9:11
The Diamonds was won by W.L. Bagshawe (Third Trinity B.C., Cambridge)

1849: Wadham College, Oxford won the Grand
The Diamonds was won by T.R. Bone (London)