The main source for this page is The Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta An Historical Review by Richard Goddard, Secretary of Henley Royal Regatta, 1997
RODE and ROWED
1839: At the first Regatta, held on 14th June, the Umpire rode on horseback along the towing path.
The Stewards and the Committee, being extremely anxious to afford every possible Accommodation to Spectators on the Banks of the River, and to avoid accidents or injury to any Individual, particularly request that no Gentleman will attempt to ride on Horse-back along the Towing Path during the Regatta, except the Umpire, who must necessarily ride by the side of the Boats during the Race.
JUNE 14, 1839
1840: The wording of the official notices between 1840 and 1843 make reference to the possibility
of the Umpire using either a boat or following on horseback.
It is not until 1844 that the latter option is dropped.
After 1839 the umpire followed the racing either in the bow of an eight, or far more probably, as has been suggested elsewhere, seated holding the rudder lines in the stern. Almost invariably, although not exclusively, he was rowed by professionals
and an article in Bell's Life, on the 1840 Regatta recorded:
Mr J D Bishop again  officiated as Umpire, and was this year in an eight oared cutter manned by a crew of London watermen.
1841: Bell's Life - and another Newspaper report -
J.D. Bishop, Esq., captain of the London Amateur Scullers' Club,
gave so much satisfaction at the previous regattas by his admirable
management and superior knowledge of matters connected with rowing,
the committee was again anxious to have his valuable assistance,
and he consented for the third time to officiate as umpire.
A crew of London watermen was selected to man his eight-oared cutter,and excellent well did they perform their work on both days.
The men's names were 1 Shelton, 2 Doubledee,3 Robert Doubledee, 4 Freeman, 5 Newell, 6 Kelly, 7 Williams, 8 Phelps (stroke)
1842: Bell's Life reported -
The watermen carrying the Umpire decided to 'have a go' themselves and at Poplar Point [the modern finish a few hundred yards below the old finish at Henley Bridge] they spurted round the outside of the bend so that on approaching the Stewards' stand all three boats were stem to stem.
The Watermen, steered by the Umpire 'have a go', 1842
Henley Regatta 1844 with a man on horseback
The reliability of this sketch as evidence is compromised by the races going in the wrong direction!
1848: Reading Mercury -
A little race among the watermen who rowed the umpire ... wound up the regatta
[ £7 to the winner and £5 for the second boat home ]
1853: Theodore Cook in "Rowing at Henley" 1919 -
... of interest to add that the best watermen's crew which ever carried
an umpire(as was their custom before steam launches) at Henley
was that of 1853, which contained:
T. MacKinney, R Newell, R. Doubledee, J Messenger, W Pocock, J Phelps, T Cole and R. Coombes at stroke.
1859: Bell's Life, July 17th -
capitally did they perform their arduous work ... rowing well up with
every race,and in that between Trinity and Balliol actually coming in second;
They consisted of:
1 J Phelps, 2 J. Mackinney, 3 T. Mackinney, 4 J. Messenger, 5 W. Pocock, 6 G. Hammerton, 7 T.White, 8. H. Kelley, with Francis of Teddington on shore, in reserve, as a change at times for Messenger, who was slightly indisposed.
A number of these watermen, and those subsequently listed, were renowned professionals of their day. Jelley, for instance, is referred to as "champion" in The Field of June 1866 adds that
the proximity if his race with Hammill, of the United States, rendered it advisable for him not to take oar
1865: Despite the prowess of these professionals, it seems that gradually the competing amateur oarsmen began to outpace the watermen. Perhaps the diminishing skills of these crews of watermen had, as suggested by a journalist, something do with the means their selection. Bell's Life July 1st -
The next point to comment is the making up of the crew of watermen to row the umpire;
and the selection of the men is, we believe, left to that gentleman,
who on the present occasion deputed the task of choosing fit and proper watermen
to compose the crew to a deputy, and of his knowledge of the men's abilities or his
impartiality in his selection the following crew will give a good idea: ...
Now,we have no wish to do any of these men a bad turn, but why Nos 1, 4 and 7 should be chosen ... to the exclusion of ...[others] we cannot understand. Indeed much astonishment was expressed by several Londoners....
For the future we would suggest that if the Umpire himself is not acquainted with the performances the different watermen he should either leave the selection in the hands of the committee, or else take the opinion of some amateur qualified to give one, before finally making such an invidious selection, and so for the future obviate the jealousy and well-founded discontent which has on the last two occasions resulted from the course taken.
1868: The official Records of the Regatta state:
Messrs. R. Lewis Lloyd and R.W.Risley officiated as Umpires, and were rowed by two crews of watermen; but in many instances they were unable to keep up with the races.
To overcome this, the Umpire's boat occasionally joined the race at an intermediate point along the Course, reference being made to it 'darting out of the bushes a third of the way up'.
THE DAYS OF STEAM - Thornycroft and Des Vignes
1869: Clearly this was not a satisfactory state of affairs and in 1869 a powered vessel was introduced.
It may well be that the idea for such a departure from tradition was inspired by the British Regatta, held on the River Seine at Paris in 1867, when the umpires -
Mr Ireland and Mr Brickwood were carried - one on board the steam launch ...
and the other aboard a private yacht ...
On the last day, when the eight-oared race was rowed, M. Benoit Champy was good enough to give the umpire a seat in his fast river boat the VAUBAN, the better to keep up with the eights.
It seems, however, more likely that the seed was planted earlier when -
NAUTILUS of 36ft in length and fitted with a twin-cylinder engine and a locomotive-type boiler ... was the first steam launch that could keep up with the eights of the University Boat Race. This was in 1862. The NAUTILUS ranks as 'Boat No. 1' in the Thornycroft register of craft. The date of 1859 ... probably refers to the laying of the keel, when the budding engineer was only sixteen years of age.
However that may be, the records of the 1869 Regatta merely refer to the official using 'a steam launch'. It is very likely this first boat was named ARIEL - for it is certain such a launch was used at a very early stage. The Stewards' Minute Book makes reference to a steamer, the property of a Mr Blythe, being put at their disposal 'to carry the Umpire during the Races'.
Wargrave and Shiplake Regatta reported in 1867 -
The highlight of the day was a three mile race between the steam yachts
ARIEL, NAUTILUS, and ETHEL ...
The steam yacht race was looked forward to with great interest, but it ended in an easy triumph for the ARIEL - a long, narrow vessel, with a very clean entrance, and very little perceptible stern deliverance, built by Mr Thorneycroft, of Chiswick.
The ETHEL is a shorter boat, of greater beam, and could not disturb the water more had she been designed by the Chief Constructor of the Navy.
ARIEL, built by Thornycroft at the Church Wharf Works in Chiswick, was 40 feet in length, 5 feet 6 inches in beam, constructed of steel with a v-twin steam engine and deserves special mention -
No.2 [ in Thornycroft's Register of Boats ], the ARIEL of 1863, was well-named,
for she was almost incredibly light, some of the hull plates being only a fortieth of an inch in thickness,
that is a weight of only 1 lb. per sq.ft.
Although the launch ran at 12.2 knots in lieu of the 9.5 knots of the NAUTILUS, Thornycroft was disappointed ...
THE STEAM YACHT "ARIEL" BUILT BY MR. JOHN I. THORNEYCROFT, ENGINEER. CHISWICK.
We illustrate the small steam yacht Ariel, built some time ago by Mr. John I. Thorneycroft of
Church Wharf, Chiswick, aud a vessel well-known to boating
men on the Thames for the high speed she has attained. ...
The Ariel is built of Bessemer steel, and advantage has been taken of the qualities of the material to produce a light structure without sacrificing strength. The vessel is of 9 tons burthen, 45 ft. 6 in. long over all, with an extreme beam of 5 ft. 6 in., while the length on the water-line is 41 ft., and extreme beam at water-line 4 ft. 9 in. The depth amidships is 3 ft. 3 in. and the draught 1 ft. 4 in. forward, and 2 ft. aft. The general arrangement of the vessel is clearly shown by the view [above].
The boiler and engines are situated amidships, while forward is a small covered cabin, partially raised above the deck level, and aft is a kind of open cabin with seats for sixteen or eighteen persons protected by an awning as shown. ...
The vessel is steered by a wheel situated just abaft the engines as shown, and it will be noticed that the rudder is split so as to clear the screw shaft, the latter being placed 2 in. out of the centre line of the vessel towards the port side, and being prolonged so as to carry the screw completely abaft the rudder. ...
The Ariel has earned an excellent reputation for speed, and she has been known to make the run from Putney to Mortlake(4 miles) with the tide in 17 minutes, this giving a main speed of 15.8 miles per hour. Even if one mile, or even a mile and a quarter be deducted for the effect of the tide, the remaining speed is exceedingly high for such a small vessel. The engines of the Ariel are run at a speed of over 400 revolutions per minute, and there can be little doubt that the adoption of this high piston speed for the engines, together with the lightness of structure in the vessel itself obtained by the use of steel, have in combination had much to do with the successful performance we have noted - a performance which so far as we are aware, has never been excelled in a steam yacht of such small size. In conclusion, we must state that we are indebted to Mr. Thorneycroft for the loan of the working drawings of the Ariel and her engines from which our engavings have been prepared.
1869: The Field gave a somewhat gushing account of the use of steam launches at this Regatta -
No great, fat, puffing Citizens blackened the air with dense smoke
[ the Citizens were large paddle steamers ], but in keeping with the poetry of the scene,
some five or six pretty little screws glided about as easily and noiselessly as swans.
Shadowed by cool awnings and cheerfully decorated, these bijou craft seemed particularly adapted for upper Thames navigation. Conspicuous among them were, first, the remarkably handy boat that carried the umpires, and next the two twin screw boats, of light draught, by Yarrow and Hedley, of Poplar, neat, fast, and manageable pleasure steamers of ten or twelve horse-power, and of remarkable pace and docility.
However in 1871 the official records report that the Thames Conservancy had imposed a ban
on the movement of all steam launches on the Henley Reach,
save that carrying the umpire, during the hours of racing.
1870: Two launches, one being Mr Blyth's ARIEL, the other being the property of Viscount Southwell, were used, but it is clear the Stewards were still not content. It was reported that Mr Blyth was unwilling to sell the ARIEL. The Stewards appointed a sub-committee to investigate the way forward.
The sub-Committee reported as follows:
that they had visited the yards of both Messrs Yarrow and Hedley, and Mr Thornycroft and requested tenders to build and let to the Stewards and Committee a Steamer of sufficient speed to carry the Umpire with the races during the two days of the Regatta...
They both submitted tenders and both were asked to guarantee the speed of the launch. Yarrow & Hedley replied that the vessel would be able to 'keep up with the Grand's Race', whilst Thornycroft wrote more specifically:
The boat I should build for your Umpire would be of steel, 49 feet 9 by 6ft 6 ins and I could guarantee 12½ [sic] in still water. I expect 13 miles and more even; the boat will work quietly which will be important to you.
The Committee opted for Thornycroft's tender, for though Hedley's was more moderate
it was not so satisfactory as regards the speed - twelve miles an hour being
the minimum recommended by the sub-committee.
There followed a deal of haggling, but eventually the Committee concluded a contract guaranteeing to employ the steamer for the first year at £50 and at two subsequent regattas at £40 per annum.
The Regatta Records merely refer to the outcome of these negotiations as follows:
Messrs R W Risley and J G Chambers officiated as Umpires in a steam-launch which had been built on purpose by Thornycroft.
1871? And this vessel certainly seemed to have fulfilled its purpose, for it was remarked -
Another improvement, resulting from the experiences of last year,
was made in the mode of conveying the Umpires, a very fast steam launch having been constructed,
under contract, with the committee, by Mr J L Thorneycroft[sic], C.E., of Church Wharf Works, Chiswick,
builder of the celebrated ARIEL; and the speed of the new vessel was the common topic
of conversation during the day.
A day or two before the race she had been run at full speed over the course against the stream which was slightly above its usual strength, and the little steamer covered the distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs and about 100 yards in 4 minutes 40 seconds ...
We believe that this vessel may be hired by other regatta committees; but the Henley stewards have first claim on her services.
However, the venture did not receive universal acclaim -
A vast amount of valuable time was wasted by the crews having to wait at the starting post for the umpire's steamer which accompanied each race. She is undeniably a fast boat; in fact probably the fastest of her size ever built, but the long stoppages that were made opposite the Grand Stand for the purpose of taking on board and putting on shore the different umpires caused a wearisome delay. A watermen's crew ... might surely have been utilised for the purpose ...
No trace as to the name of this launch has yet been found, but -
... the races being umpired again by Mr Risley and Mr Chambers from Thornycroft's steam screw launch MIRANDA
Henley Royal Regatta Launch Miranda 1872
... the little steamer doing the marked half mile in 2 minutes 11 seconds.
Boat No. 10 [in Thornycroft's Register], the MIRANDA [constructed in 1871] was a more important craft, since her success contributed so greatly to the growing reputation and rapid progress of her builder.
This little vessel [had] a waterline length of 45ft 6 in. She evoked widespread interest on account of her speed of over 16 knots, which was considered impossibly high. This disbelief made it necessary to arrange for an independent trial by Sir Frederick Bramwell, the leading consultant engineer of his day. Bramwell described the trials and confirmed the speed in a paper read before the Institute of naval Architects in 1872. ...
What is not certain is whether MIRANDA were the launch Thornycroft built specially
for the Stewards and Committee under the agreement of December 1870.
But we are aware that in the winter of 1873-4 he also built EVA for a report of the 1874 Regatta stated -
Messrs Risley and Chambers umpired in turn from a new little steamer built by Thornycroft
and there is frequent apocryphal - but I believe inaccurate - reference to EVA being the
first launch for use by the Umpire commissioned by the Regatta.
the umpires were conveyed in a new steam launch by the same builder [ie Thornycroft] not so fast as the MIRANDA but still capable of doing a cool 15 miles per hour
one of Mr Thornycroft's speedy screw launches achieved 18 mph
EVA herself, was 44' 6" in length, 6' 4" in the beam and with a draft of 2'.
She was powered by a single cylinder steam unit reported to be capable of 42 ihp [indicated horse power].
At trials she achieved 16½ m.p.h.
Originally she was steered by a tiller and had no cabin, but after she left service with the Regatta in 1876 she was sold to Mr H E Rhodes when a wheel and cabin were fitted and it is in this form that she is shown below.
EVA, on Lake Windermere in 1989, with wheel and cabin
EVA in Kew Steam Museum for restoration
© Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Chris Allen says:
This was in the workshops for restoration by Historic Steam Ltd. It is now in the Museum of Rowing at Henley on Thames. I was disappointed that the museum would not allow photography then delighted when I later discovered that I had photographed it here where nobody objected.
EVA has been meticulously restored at the Kew Steam Museum and in 1985 returned to the Henley Reach to undergo trials to see if she could carry an umpire again -
EVA at Henley 1988
Sadly EVA's steering was erratic and it proved impossible to reduce speed rapidly enough to
allow the boat to be employed safely for her original task:
and added disadvantage was the discovery that the coal-fired boiler
showered all on board with heavy black smuts!
She is now a permanent exhibit at the river & Rowing Museum at Henley.
1876: The arrangement with Thornycroft started in 1871 terminated in 1876. A Regatta Sub-Committee investigated three firms of Steam Launch Builders, choosing Messrs Des Vignes -
to supply a launch, in every way suited to meet the requirements of the Committtee for a term of three years, 1877, 1878, 1879, for the sum of £20 each Regatta
Des Vignes' steam launches, all built of riveted steel and powered by twin cylinders turning a single screw, were employed at Henley for every Regatta between 1877 and 1898. In his obituary in The Engineer in 1935 it was said -
For twenty-one years he designed, built, and supplied the umpire's launch
for Henley Regatta under hire contract, guaranteeing that she would travel the course
in a specified time.
From the evidence of one of these contract agreements he supplied and managed the boat, provided attendance and all running costs during the Regatta for £20, a nominal sum for the service, but, he would say: "I always sold the boat".
A Des Vignes Steam Launch following a race in 1877, Tissot
Notice how small it was!
1881: George Leslie in his book Our River says -
Mr. Lord, on a paddle-wheel steamer belonging to the Thames Conservancy,
is now seen busy in putting things to rights;
seeing that the various large craft are moored in their proper line,
and some-times towing obstructive barges right up through the bridge,
far off out of harm's way;
indeed, throughout the day, Mr. Lord has a very hard time of it,
and I believe few are aware how much of the comfort and orderliness of the Regattas are due to his skill,
energy, and good temper.
The umpires' boat is seen getting up steam - a long, rakish-looking craft, with no cabins or railings about it; a boat of reputed fabulous speed, since celebrated in connection with the sad disaster at Shepperton.
[ The sad disaster at Shepperton was an accident in the dark when a Des Vignes launch struck a rowing boat at
Shepperton and Mrs Sarah Bollard, (and another lady and two small children) were drowned.
George Francis Gabriel Desvignes (the steam launch builder himself then aged 89) was charged with
'feloniously killing and slaying'. The verdict after a considerable amount of evidence was 'not guilty'.
An influential expert witness for the defence was the Captain of London Rowing Club.
The Old Bailey proceedings on 23rd November 1880 are online. The launch involved was the WOLVERINE. ]
WOLVERINE was a 58ft launch with a beam of 7'10", so was she an Umpire's Launch as George Leslie implies? If so she was one of the widest. I can find no other reference to her - though perhaps her name was changed. She could have been used in 1877, 1878 and or 1879
Various newspaper and magazine reports of the period give the names of subsequent Des Vignes launches -
1880: WRAITH - moved to Lake Windermere and was then owned by the Pattinson family. Said to have been then renamed MERLIN
WRAITH, 1880, on Windermere (postcard)
Thanks to Brian Smith
Henley Regatta 1884, painting by R.F.McIntyre of the Public Schools Fours,
Umpire's steam launch INVICTA
reproduced in Henley Royal Regatta by Christopher Dodd
EUPATORIA, Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta, 1886
ASTEROID, Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta, 1887
1888: JAVELIN[ SBA ]
JAVELIN, Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta, 1888
The cabins were presumably a subsequent addition?
1890: DEIANIRA - 'a long powered boat and very fast but sends up too much swell for a crowded reach'
DEIANIRA, Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta, 1890
Thames Rowing Club have this picture of an 1891 start which shows the ARAMIS -
The Start at Henley,RIGHT bank (Bucks) side of Temple Island; Final of the Stewards' Challenge Cup 1891,
Thames Rowing Club v Trinity Hall Cambridge. Painting owned by Thames Rowing Club
The Field, 11th July 1891 stated -
Mr Desvignes of Chertsey has built a new launch for the umpires - the ARAMIS and she seems well suited for the purpose - without being too long or inconveniently small - a fine specimen of the building of such swift and graceful craft.
1892: ARAMIS, 'owned by the Des Vignes Syndicate'
1893: ARAMIS. The Committee concluded an agreement with the Kingdon Company, with whom Des Vignes was, by then in partnership, 'for the supply of four small launches and the Umpire's launch'.
The Umpire took the Baron de Coubertin, Founder of the modern Olympic games,
as a guest on the ARAMIS when he officiated at a race involving a French crew.
Richard Goddard says:
An engraving of Temple island (figure 7) shows the 1891 Regatta start with a steam launch, clearly named ARAMIS, flying the Umpire's flag from the stern.
However Christopher Dodd has the same picture marked c 1893. In neither case can the name of the steam launch be read. I have appended Dodd's comment beneath the picture. The viewpoint is from UPSTREAM looking down towards the old start on the Bucks,RIGHT bank side of Temple Island. The two eights are rowing down towards the start.
The Island depicted as the Leander enclosure in 1893.
Dr Edmond Warre and A.P.Heywood-Lonsdale are the foreground,
the eights are those of Eton and Radley,
and everybody who was anybody is here for posterity.
[ What can one say? "Everybody who was anybody" has almost without exception, been forgotten by the said posterity. Sic transit gloria mundi! (So passes the glory of the world!) ]
1894: HIBERNIA [ SBA ]
a new launch by Des Vignes, used at Henley for the next fourteen years
The Steam Boat Association notes say -
... his most famous launch, the HIBERNIA, which became a legend in her time,
and is still talked of with reverence by old river men to this day.
She was for many years used as the Umpire's launch for the University Boat Race and Henley Royal Regatta. Des Vignes claimed she was the fastest launch built up to that time.
Built of steel, her length was 47½ ft, beam 6½ ft, draft forward 1ft 4½" and aft 2 ft 5". With a twin cylinder engine 7⅛" bore by 6" stroke, turning at 1050 rpm and a locomotive boiler made of 5/16" plate quintuple riveted on the longitudinal seam, Des Vignes claimed she could achieve 29 mph. Her hull is said to be lying in the bed of the Thames at Kingston.
HIBERNIA, Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta, 1890
29 mph? but look at the wash!
And here is HIBERNIA with a stern cabin -
HIBERNIA, Umpire's Launch, with a stern cabin
Tthe photo was kindly provided in 2012 by Jacques Valiquette, the owner of the Hibernia's engine
Hibernia at the 1899 Henley Royal Regatta
Hibernia can be seen in use on the British Pathe film of Henley 1899
1897: The Committee resolved to use two launches HIBERNIA and VARUNA.
Unfortunately they were both noted for their wash ...
VARUNA was a 40ft launch, 6ft wide with a top speed of 18 mph -
VARUNA, One of the two Umpire's Launches at Henley Royal Regatta, 1897
Two launches, one for each Umpire, were used on the morning of the first day in order to save time, but as it was found the second launch engaged caused a great wash when travelling fast, and therefore could only be used for slow races, the scheme had to be given up.
Obviously it was the choice of VARUNA as second boat which caused difficulties, for later reports make it clear that the principle of using two launches had become very firmly established. Yet not every commentator saw the value of the innovation -
The experiment of having two launches, one of which was to follow alternate races, was not a success
and was abandoned for the greater part of the day; but if the course was always clear,
there would be no occasion for two launches, as, but for the delay caused by the pleasure boats,
the umpire would have plenty of time to go down the course at half speed after every race,
before the next one started.
The Umpire's vessel had the greatest difficulty in making its way down the course ... some people appear to take pleasure in obstructing the passage of the launch, and on one occasion a mob ... disgracefully abused the umpire at the start.
1898: CONSUTA. To solve the problem of swell the Stewards asked Mr Saunders (later of Saunders Roe), boat-builder of South Stoke, to design a launch that would do close to twenty miles per hour without creating excessive wash. He developed the 'tunnel stern' and the first vessel of this type, CONSUTA was built in 1898, although according to other sources it had been commissioned in 1896 by Mr Clutton, a near neighbour, as 'a launch for the Umpire Committee of Henley Regatta'.
The launch was to be designed to produce minimum wash as the current umpires' launch had been producing
an unacceptable wash at the Regatta. The resulting launch, named CONSUTA,
which is Latin [Consutilis] for 'sewn together', was 51ft long and 7½ft in the beam,
had a fine entry with a shallow run aft, and a rounded funnel stern.
The hull skin comprised four mahogany laminations hand sewn together with annealed 16 SWG copper wire stitches laid in approximately 40,000 inch long grooves in the outer lamination.
Power was provided by a Desvignes steam engine which gave the launch a trials speed of 27½ knots[sic] with so little wash that the Umpire Committee was fully satisfied and used CONSUTA for many years until she became the BBC's television commentary launch for the Oxford and Cambridge boat races.
Contemporary reports confirm that the vessel's design was a great success -
... a new launch named the CONSUTA which had been built by S E Saunders of Goring, with a view to avoiding as far as possible the raising of any wash, and the result is most satisfactory, for there was far less roll caused by her than any other boat hitherto used. The construction of the boat is novel ... the hull in consequence very light, being about half the weight of a steel one.
Outside the Leander Club on Tuesday week, when the river was rapidly subsiding to its usual level
The Consuta's steam is up and the crew just off for the morning's work
1899: CONSUTA and HIBERNIA
Since the construction of CONSUTA, launches of fifty feet in length have always been preferred for umpiring purposes as their profiles were supposed to generate less wash at faster speeds. However, a number of 40 ft boats (actually 41 ft) were constructed.
1902: MAGNOLIA a 40ft launch was built by Sam Saunders for Jesse Boot (the Chemist), and originally had an electric motor. After the addition of a keel, the launch was renamed MAJESTIC. Chas. Newens undertook an extensive rebuild in 1985 and in 2012 it is for sale.
1902 MARITANA built by Saunders, a sister to CONSUTA though 4 ft longer with a slightly different engine layout. Owned by Mr Strick, who seemed to have lent the vessel to the Regatta without charge.
MARITANA carrying King George V and Queen Mary in 1912
1904: CONSUTA and HIBERNIA. 'arrangements have been made with Messrs Clutton
[ owner of the CONSUTA ] and Labat for the hire of their launches as usual'
A photograph of the Final of the Grand Challenge Cup for that Regatta  shows the steamer CONSUTA carrying the umpire.
1905: HIBERNIA and MARITANA. Mr Clutton died and CONSUTA was not available.
1906: CONSUTA and MARITANA with a possible option on HIBERNIA which was not taken up.
THE ADVENT OF PETROL - Hobbs & Sons of Henley
Steam had of course provided a faster option for carrying the Umpire than the watermen, but tales were told
of steamers running out of power half way up the Course, letting the crews run away from them, as of old.
CONSUTA, which, as mentioned above, was originally powered by a steam engine designed by Des Vignes,
was subsequently converted to petrol propulsion, though MARITANA remained under steam.
1912: Mention is made, for the first time, of a [petrol-engined] motor boat for the use of Umpires to be provided by Hobbs & Sons for next and for following years' Regattas ... for the sum of £40 for each year.
1913: ENCHANTRESS had been tried and proved satisfactory. Richard Goddard commented
that this was something of an understatement since in 1996, 83 years after her first appearance
ENCHANTRESS was still following races at Henley and Hobbs & Sons continued to own her.
[ And we can now add that she still did sterling service in 2013 - her centenary year! And she now continues for at least several years more ... ]
ENCHANTRESS followed the lines and construction of CONSUTA, which is perhaps unsurprising as The Thames Launch Company of Hobbs had acquired Saunders' yard, known as the Springfield Works, at South Stoke, Goring in 1911, and retained many of his skilled craftsmen.
She is said to be available for short term hire from Hobbs of Henley
It seems these same two launches, MARITANA and ENCHANTRESS, were engaged once more on the resumption of the Regatta after the First World War, but thereafter there is scant reference to such matters in the official records.
1920: MAGICIAN, built by Hobbs, saw duty as an Umpire's launch in 1920.
Magician in 1920
1921: There is a photograph of MAGICIAN carrying HRH The Prince of Wales - on the occasion he attended as a Prize-giver - just after the final of The Ladies' Challenge Plate.
MAGICIAN carrying the Prince of Wales, 1921
(MAGICIAN last appeared in an official capacity at the 1994 Regatta and was subsequently sold at auction in 1996.)
ARETHUSA a 40ft launch built in 1921 by Hobbs & Sons, subsequently restored by Messrs Peter Freebody & Co, for Mr Giles Every; now the property of Miss Charlotte Every ARETHUSA has carried the Umpire at various Regattas between 1986 and 
1928: AMARYLLIS built by Hobbs. Purchased by Cambridge University Boat Club, she saw service until the 1995 Regatta. In 1996 she was bought by Dr Walter Scott, and after undergoing restoration at Freebody's yard is once again to be seen carrying the Umpire at Henley and supporters of the CUBC at the Boat Race.
1930: Maritana's boiler was condemned and she was converted to petrol. The steam engine was sold to W.A Murray of Montreal for £40. It is now for sale (I think) 2012.
Maritana's Steam Engine seen in 2012
1945: When preparations for the 1945 Peace Regatta were in hand
"It was reported that Hobbs & Co could arrange the launch ENCHANTRESS
and Mr Stanley Garton agreed to make enquiries about the launch GOLDEN VANITY"
1949: CONSUTA then powered by a petrol engine, used by the BBC for the first TV coverage of the Boat Race.
CONSUTA in use by the BBC for Boatrace coverage, 1949
In the post-war period, the number of races at the Regatta steadily increased
and this gave rise to the need for another launch.
1952: BOSPOROS, bult by Hobbs & Sons Ltd, of double diagonal mahogany. BOSPOROS was commissioned by Oxford University Boat Club [ OUBC ] as the third in their series of boats - the two motor canoes OLIVE and UMBRIDGE. Richard Goddard comments -
as far as one knows - the fourth launch,
undoubtedly destined to bear a name beginning with C, was never realised.
BOSPOROS was paid for and launched by Lord Nuffield and was,
very appropriately, first equipped with a Morris engine - this was subsequently replaced
with a different and somewhat more efficient power unit, although it was thought best
not to trouble Lord Nuffield with this particular development!
The launch was named after the Straits of Bosporus, which is a Greek compound word meaning "Ox ford". Unfortunately for OURCS there was already a boat of that named registered, so an adaptation of the spelling to a phonetic variant had to be devised.
BOSPOROS 1 following the boatrace in 1957
BOSPOROS carried the Umpires at Henley for many years, first on annual hire from OURCS and, thereafter, from 1980 to 1992 as the property of the Stewards themselves. After the 1992 Regatta the BOSPOROS was sold at auction to a Dutch buyer. When the vessel left the United Kingdom OURCS had the foresight to re-register the name which allowed the dark blues to use it again when they commissioned a new 50' launch in 1994
1956: MATRONA a 40ft launch built by W.E.R.Sims used as an Umpire's launch in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now owned by Chas Newens and renamed PANACHE.
1958: CLIVANDA a 40ft launch built by W.E.R.Sims used as an Umpire's launch in the 1970s and 1980s. Now owned by Chas Newens and renamed POMMERY.
1961: the Chairman of the Committee of management reported -
that he had given some thought to the number of races which might be required on the Wednesday of the Regatta.
The Committee agreed that it would be desirable to have an extra launch spare
in case the entries for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup necessitated
running races in groups of five.
The decision required the hiring of one (and latterly of two and more) of the 40 feet launches
1985: MAJESTIC, previously MAGNOLIA, a 40ft "Consuta" launch owned by Chas Newens, rebuilt.
NEW MATERIALS FOR A NEW CENTURY
Traditional wooden-hulled craft and relatively elderly engines are expensive to maintain
and towards the end of the 1980s it was becoming apparent that there were growing and
significant difficulties attached to keeping these vessels in an appropriate condition
to guarantee they could fulfil the punishing schedule demanded of them by the
ever-expanding racing time-table.
1991: the Committee of Management decided -
to give serious consideration ... to the manufacture of fibreglass hulls
moulded upon the shape of an existing launch.
[after detailed research] ... It was agreed in principle to order two such launches, the first for delivery in June 1992 and the second prior to the 1993 Regatta.
These boats, constructed by The Steam & Electric Boat Company Ltd of Ludham, Norfolk, were powered by petrol engines and the mould tool for the hull was based upon the profile of AMARYLLIS , chosen after consultation with Mr Hobbs, who advised that the hull was slightly fuller than that of either ENCHANTRESS or MAGICIAN and better suited to the carriage of passengers. [ !!! ] Minor variations were incorporated in the design in an effort to improve manoeuvrability.
1992: ARIADNE was delived to Henley Reach on May 19th, and after modifications to the size of the propeller, rudder and gear box ratio, performed sufficiently well at that year's Regatta for the Committee to resolve -
In view of the very positive reports ... [following exhaustive test] ... it was confirmed that two further launches, embodying the post-production modifications to ARIADNE, had been ordered from the Steam and Electric launch Company Ltd.
When detailed discussions were in hand on the specifications for these new launches, much thought was given to the most desirable power unit to be installed. Both diesel and electric motors had their advocates, but after taking a range of soundings, it was decided to continue to use petrol engines, which could provide greater acceleration and had a better power to weight ratio.
1992: BOSPOROS sold by the Stewards to a Dutch buyer. OUBC re-registered the name.
1993: ULYSSES and ARGONAUT were launched in May
1994: BOSPOROS, the second of that name, a new 50' glass-fibre-hulled launch commissioned by OUBC was produced from the same mould as ARIADNE etc, and used as an Umpire's launch in 1994 and subsequently.
In 1994 MAGICIAN last served as an Umpire's launch and was then sold
1995: AMARYLIS bought by Dr Walter Scott from CUBC for restoration at Freebody's yard. She then continued in use as an Umpire's launch.
2008: HERAKLES GRP composite hull on the lines of AMARYLLIS 1928. 4.3 litre v6 petrol engine
On 17th June  the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta took delivery of a new Umpires' launch, Herakles,
in time for the 2008 Regatta.
Built by Anglia Boatbuilders Association member Creative Marine of the Secret Boatyard, Matslake, Norwich, Herakles went straight into service throughout the five days of the Regatta in early July.
Constructed using a set of lines taken from Umpires' launch Amaryllis in 1992 by ABA member Yacht Designer Andrew Wolstenholme, Herakles has a GRP composite hull and is powered by a 4.3 litre V6 petrol engine.
Construction work has taken about 9 months to complete. The topsides and decking received seven coats of varnish to give a deep lustre to the wood. Simon Read, founding partner of Creative Marine, recalls how he saved the hull mould, used to build three similar launches for the Regatta, Ariadne, Argonaut and Ulysses, from being destroyed when it was taking up valuable space at the moulders. See Creative Marine
The Chairman of the Regatta's Committee of Management Mike Sweeney commented - "I'm very pleased that, with the addition of Herakles to our fleet, we have gone a long way toward safeguarding the continued use of traditional style launches at the regatta whilst embracing the advantages of more modern construction materials and techniques."
At 2 p.m., on the Friday, when the number of umpires’ launches used to follow the races reduced from five to four for the remaining 2½ days, the four launches used were, for the first time in the Regatta’s 170 years history, owned by the Regatta.
2012: ULYSSES, ARIADNE, and ARGONAUT major refurbishment of woodwork,varnish and chrome.
Quotation from the Henley Royal Regatta Site -
Three of Henley Royal Regatta's historic umpires' launches have had a complete facelift just in time to go on secondment
to the Boat Race.
Built in the early 1990s, the launches have been maintained annually, but after 20 years sterling service and exposure to sunlight they required major refurbishment of the woodwork, varnish and chrome.
The launches were sent to Creative Marine in Norfolk for the work to be undertaken.
Creative Marine is run by Roy Lawson and Simon Reed who worked for the original manufacturer and rescued the hull mould when the manufacturer went out of business. They used this mould to construct the Regatta's fourth Umpire's Launch, Herakles, in 2008.
The refurbishment took five months to complete. At 50 feet long and weighing four tonnes, each launch was transported to Norfolk on specially adapted articulated lorries.
Mike Sweeney, Chairman of the Regatta, said "The launches have been refurbished to the highest standard and we are absolutely delighted with the quality of the craftsmanship."
AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE UMPIRES' LAUNCHES
A list of the known Umpire's Launches with pictures.
[ List in date order below ]
Let me know (click 'About' at top of page) if you can correct or add anything. Better pictures welcome!
CLIVANDA, now POMMERY
MAJESTIC, previously MAGNOLIA
MATRONA, now PANACHE
PANACHE, previously MATRONA
POMMERY, previously CLIVANDA
Other Umpire's Launches about which little is known (tell me if you can add to this!):
ODALISQUE: 1889, built Des Vignes
WOLVERINE: 1877-9?, built Des Vignes. See above
ZAMORA: 1881, built Des Vignes.
A LIST OF THE UMPIRES' LAUNCHES IN DATE ORDER
A list by date of the known Umpire's Launches with pictures. Let me know (click 'About ' at top of page) if you can correct or add anything. Better pictures welcome!
MAJESTIC, previously MAGNOLIA
MATRONA, now PANACHE
PANACHE, previously MATRONA
POMMERY, previously CLIVANDA
CLIVANDA, now POMMERY
[ Richard Goddard's The Umpire's Launch at Henley concludes with a long discussion on the carrying of passengers by the Umpires' Launches ]
1839 and before, 1840s, 1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
(Olympic Rowing at Henley
; Frost Fairs
Cannon St Rb
The Great Stink
Charing Cross Rb
Magna Carta Is
Black Potts Rb
New Thames Br
Angel on Br
Papist Way Slip
Clifton H Br
Culham Cut Fb
Head of River
Medley Weir Site
Arks Weir Site
Old Mans Fb
Radcot Cradle Fb
Radcot New Br
Radcot Old Br
Bloomers Hole Fb
St Johns Br
Castle Eaton Br