"The Rowing Match at Henley," Oxford University and City Herald, Volume 24, Issue 1202, 13 June 1829, p. 3, col. 4; "British Newspapers," database with images, Findmypast (https://www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 1 March 2020), image (subscription); British Library.
The Rowing Match at Henley
The much-talked of match between Oxford and Cambridge took place on Wednesday last. It excited such great interest that the inhabitants of Henley resolved on rendering it a complete aquatic fete. For this purpose a general meeting was held in the Town Hall of that place on Saturday last, when a subscription was entered into for the providing of music, fireworks, &c. About twelve o'clock on Wednesday the bustle began at Henley, and from that time until six o'clock, the hour appointed for starting, every road to that town was thronged with pedestrians, horsemen, and vehicles of every description. Most of the members of this University that were present wore blue handkerchiefs; those of the University of Cambridge, pink; and, according to the party they favoured, many persons sported ribbons of those colours. The bells were ringing nearly the whole day. At two o'clock several bands of music, stationed in different parts of the river, commenced playing, and the amusements began with a match between two wherries for a prize given by the town of Henley. At this time the appearance of the banks of the river was highly interesting; they were decorated by beauty and fashion, and the company continued to increase until the race began.
At about a quarter-past seven the boats were launched, and, manned by their respective crews, they proceeded down the river accompanied by several London, Eton, and Oxford cutters, which had arrived during the day. At this time nearly twenty thousand persons were assembled on the banks of the river, waiting most anxiously for the commencement of the contest.
When the Oxford boat, built by Messrs. Davis and King, of Oxford, was launched, a general opinion in its favour prevailed among all the competent judges present, notwithstanding the boasted lightness of the London boat, built by Searle, of Lambeth. On proceeding down the river, its superiority was manifested, by its gliding, as it were, on the surface of the water, instead of burying itself in it, as was the case with the other. This made the betters of the long odds look very gloomy - for 3, and even 5 to 1, had been betted in favour of Cambridge to within a few days of the race. Having arrived at the place of starting, and all the necessary preparations being made, a pistol was fired: but a false start took place, and the boats returned to the point. Matters being again arranged, a second signal was given, at about four minutes to eight, and they started. The Oxford boat gained from the moment of starting; and before they got to the island was clear a-head of the Cambridge. The Oxford boat continued gaining the whole of the way up, without the crew shewing the slightest symptom of distress, and upon passing under the bridge, the appointed winning-place, was not less that one hundred yards a-head of the Cambridge boat. The distance rowed was two miles and a half, and the time of performance about fourteen minutes. The report of the great disadvantage of the island to the Oxford boat is incorrect. Some absurd stories are prevalent of its being a difference to the Oxonians of fifty or sixty yards. The course of the Cambridge boat, from the bend of the river, was rather longer, but this was compensated by the Oxford boat having to pass some sharp angles.
We cannot decsribe the enthusiastic shouts which rent the air when the Oxford boat came to the bridge. A very faint idea may be formed of the nature of the triumph from what our readers have often witnessed at the races on the Isis. Amongst the assembled multitude were to seen the very flower of the kingdom; for such surely may be called the fine, high-spirited young men of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, of Eton and Westminster. The splendid scenery, the beautiful winding river, on which were boats of every description, and the immense company, made a picture so superb, so unique a nature, that none but those who saw it can form an adequate idea of its richness and its variety.
The crew of the Oxford boat, on jumping a-shore, were surrounded by congratulating friends, and they were almost carried through the crowd; they appeared not at all exhausted.
Henley was never before so full of company, every inn and public-house was crammed to excess, and provisions of every sort were soon exhausted, as the landlords had not anticipated such an assemblage of persons. The horses, for want of sufficient stabling, were obliged to remain in the street the whole of the day.
In the evening there was a most splendid display of fire-works made by Signor Mortram, of Vauxhall Gardens. They were let off from a boat moored near the bridge. The reflection produced on the water, which was very smooth at the time, was beautiful in the extreme.
The following are the gentlemen of the Oxford boat:
- 1. Mr. J. Carter, St John's.
- 2. Mr. E. J. Arbuthnot, Balliol.
- 3. Mr. J. E. Bates, Christ Church.
- 4. Mr. C. Wordsworth, Christ Church.
- 5. Mr. J. Toogood, Balliol.
- 6. Mr. T. Garnier, Worcester.
- 7. Mr. G. B. Moore, Christ Church.
- Stroke Oar. Mr. T. Staniforth, Christ Church.
- Steerer. Mr. W. R. Freemantle, Christ Church.
The gentlemen of the Cambridge boat were as follow:
- 1. Mr. Holdsworth.
- 2. Mr. Bayford.
- 3. Mr. Warren.
- 4. Mr. Merrivall.
- 5. Mr. Entwisle.
- 6. Mr. Thompson.
- 7. Mr. Selwyn.
- Stroke oar. Mr. Snow
We have not been able to ascertain the name of the Steerer.
During the whole of the day, although so many persons were assembled together, the utmost harmony prevailed; and there was none of that spirit of rioting shewn which is so prevalent among the lower classes at meetings of this nature. In the evening there were a few sprees, but we have heard of no serious injury sustained by any individual; nor did any accident happen, at least we have not received information of any, although it was anticipated, from the crowds which lined the banks of the river, that there would be several.
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