1900: 57th BOATRACE - Cambridge by 20 lengths. Oxford 32, Cambridge 24. See Boatrace 1900s
1900: HEAD OF THE RIVER - Magdalen
1900: Eights Week. Modern day organisers may wish to look carefully at this photograph before despairing about our problems with river traffic -
1900: Eights Week punts
1901: 58th BOATRACE - Oxford by 2/5 lengths. Oxford 33, Cambridge 24. See Boatrace 1900s
The Transvaal war left its mark on the crews of the rival blues this year. Several who might have rowed in the historic race were fighting in South Africa, and two of them were shot. Two, recent university coaches, McClean and Trevor Jones, died within a few weeks of the race.
R C Lehmann failed to get a blue in 1879 - having his seat taken by his president ...
He made a considerable contribution to rowing. In 1901 he wrote in 'Anni Fugaces' -
Now sixteen youngsters in their pride of muscle
Prepare at Putney for the final tussle.
Two puny tyrants of the coxswain tribe
Whom threats deter not nor caresses bribe,
Hold in their hands, those ruthless hands, the fate,
Each, as he steers it, of his labouring eight.
Through the long weeks these men must meekly train,
Their style as pretty as their food is plain.
Primed with small beer and filled with prunes and rices,
They tempt each day the waves of Cam or Isis.
Eggs they may eat, but not the tasty rasher
Who to Clayhithe proceed or to the Lasher,
And tarts and jams and entrees are taboo
To those who daily row in either crew.
1901: HEAD OF THE RIVER - New College
1902: 59th BOATRACE - Cambridge by 5 lengths. Oxford 33, Cambridge 25. See Boatrace 1900s
1902: HEAD OF THE RIVER - University College
1903: 60th BOATRACE - Cambridge by 6 lengths. Oxford 33, Cambridge 26. See Boatrace 1900s
The Oxford 7, George Drinkwater wrote -
The race was rather a fiasco. F I Pitman was umpire for the first time, Colonel Willan
having retired after the last race. Provided by Tom Tims with an antediluvian double-barrelled pistol
which had been used for the start since time immemorial [possibly since 1884?], he got it stuck at half cock.
On the words "Are you ready?" Cambridge squared their blades against the strong tide which was running,
and the stakeboat man could not hold them. Oxford taking the water from the back stop to be drawn forward by the tide,
were held more firmly. Cambridge got nearly a ¾ length start which the umpire did not notice,
being occupied with his pistol.
Oxford, not knowing why they had been slipped, rowed like a beaten crew from the first stroke. Cambridge went right away and won as they liked by six lengths.
1903: HEAD OF THE RIVER - New College
1904: 61st BOATRACE - Cambridge by 4½ lengths. Oxford 33, Cambridge 27. See Boatrace 1900s
Two boxes at the Alhambra on Saturday night were occupied by the Oxford and Cambridge crews at the invitation of the management of that hall.
A special feature of the programme - and one of great interest to the University men - was a reproduction on the Urban Bioscope, of the race rowed that very morning. The picture is an excellect reproduction of the race, and was hugely enjoyed by the visitors....
Taken from the bow of the "Sportsman's" fast steamer which followed closely in the wake of the crews.
1904: HEAD OF THE RIVER - New College
1905: 62nd BOATRACE - Cambridge by 3½ lengths. Oxford 34, Cambridge 27. See Boatrace 1900s
1905: HEAD OF THE RIVER - Magdalen
The river is the chief feature in the scenery, and in the life of
amusement. From the first day of term, in October, it is crowded
with every sort of craft. The freshman admires the golden colouring
of the woods and Magdalen tower rising, silvery, through the blue
As soon as he appears on the river, his weight, strength, and "form" are estimated. He soon finds himself pulling in a college "challenge four," under the severe eye of a senior cox, and by the middle of December he has rowed his first race, and is regularly entered for a serious vocation.
The thorough-going boating-man is the creature of habit. Every day, at the same hour, after a judicious luncheon, he is seen, in flannels, making for the barge. He goes out, in a skiff, or a pair, or a four-oar, ... Chief of all the boating-man goes out in an eight, and rows down to Iffley, with the beautiful old mill and Norman church, or accomplishes "the long course." He rows up again, lounges in the barge, rows down again (if he has only pulled over the short course), and goes back to dinner in hall.
The table where men sit who are in training is a noisy table, and the athletes verge on "bear-fighting" even in hall. A statistician might compute how many steaks, chops, pots of beer, and of marmalade, an orthodox man will consume in the course of three years. He will, perhaps, pretend to suffer from the monotony of boating shop, boating society, and broad-blown boating jokes. But this appears to be a harmless affectation. The old breakfasts, wines, and suppers, the honest boating slang, will always have an attraction for him.
The summer term will lose its delight when the May races are over. Boating-men are the salt of the University, so steady, so well disciplined, so good-tempered are they. The sport has nothing selfish or personal in it; men row for their college, or their University; not like running--men, who run, as it were, each for his own hand. Whatever may be his work in life, a boating-man will stick to it. His favourite sport is not expensive, and nothing can possibly be less luxurious.
1906: Waiting for the Cox, Andrew Lang -
Waiting for the Cox, 1906, in Oxford, by Andrew Lang
1906: Coaching the Eight, Andrew Lang -
Coaching the Eight, 1906, in Oxford, by Andrew Lang
I think only the Blue Boat was allowed to have a coach on horseback
Just below the Gut on the Right bank (as seen going upstream) is the third of the mouths
of the River Cherwell, - Freshmans River ...
1906: G.E.Mitton -
The Eights, which take place in the middle of the summer term, are the event of the year to Oxford, and intensely exciting they may be. The lowest boat starts from the lasher above Iffley, and the course ends at Salter's Barge. But the crux of the whole matter often lies in The Gut, and much depends on the ability of the cox to steer a clean course, as to whether his boat is bumped or bumps. As the boats in cutting the curve below this crucial point come diagonally at it, disaster here often overtakes a crew which has before been doing well. The [third mouth of] the Cherwell is navigable only in a canoe and by good luck; but the tale is told that one cox, in his first year, being excited beyond reason, mistook it for the main channel, and, steering right ahead, landed his crew high and dry on the shoals. Hence the name, the Freshman's River.
[ The 'lasher above Iffley' may be puzzling. 'Lasher' is a type of weir.
But Iffley Lock was totally rebuilt in 1924 - and before that there was a weir on the LEFT bank
above the lock. See Iffley Lock for map. ]
1906: Eights Week, Francis Frith -
1906: G.E. Mitton -
To the left are the college barges, resplendent in many colours, with their slender flagstaffs rising against a background of the shady trees that border Christchurch meadows. The reach of water beside them is alive with boats, and the oars rise and dip with the regularity of the legs of a monster centipede. The barges should be seen in Eights week, when they are in their glory, occupied by the mothers, sisters, and aunts of the undergraduates, dressed in costumes that in mass look like brilliant flower-beds.
1907: 64th BOATRACE - Cambridge by 4 lengths. Oxford 34, Cambridge 29. See Boatrace 1900s
1907: HEAD OF THE RIVER - Christ Church
1908: 65th BOATRACE - Cambridge by 2½ lengths. Oxford 34, Cambridge 30. See Boatrace 1900s
1908: HEAD OF THE RIVER - Christ Church
1908: Bumps starting guns at Iffley -
Bumps starting guns at Iffley, 1908
For contrast this is what they looked like in 2007 -
Bumps starting guns at Iffley, 2007
1909: 66th BOATRACE - Oxford by 3½ lengths. Oxford 35, Cambridge 30. See Boatrace 1900s
1909: HEAD OF THE RIVER - Christ Church
1909: J E Vincent, The Story of the Thames -
[This reach] ... is subject, of course, to the ordinary rules of navigation,
but it also has a law of its own; and that law is that all other craft must make way
for eight-oars in practice at all times, and most especially for the University Eight,
or one of the Trial Eights.
You may search the Statutes of England and the Law Reports in vain for that law or confirmation of it. It has not that Sanction upon which jurists insist, but it can by no means be disobeyed with impunity, nor would anyone save a congenital churl desire to disregard it. For the fundamental truth of the matter is that, no matter what the rights of the public may be in the eye of the law, the river from Iffley Lock to Folly Bridge is set aside in the main during term time for serious rowing by those undergraduates of Oxford University who make oarsmanship the earnest business of their outdoor life at Oxford. They may be inclined to strain their rights, but whoso should attempt to assert his in opposition would be likely to discover that Oxford water can be very cold, and Oxford language quite warm, and he would probably obtain scanty consolation if he tried Oxford law about the matter afterwards.
[ This may be overstating the case in the 21st century - but just be aware that athletes in training should be respected and try to stay out of the way! ]