For the rowing club the season of 1893-4 was a very quiet one. The club on joining the union was able to hand over nearly £5, being the balance from the last season, a balance on the right side being a thing unknown for years.
The scratch races were a great success, they were held as usual in May; six boats were entered and some of the races were very close.
The annual picnic was a success, and would have been a still greater success if some of the men had not been scared by the look of the weather on starting. It is worth noting that a wet day for the annual picnic is as yet unrecorded. There were 25 present, of whom the staff and their friends numbered 12, not including "Ramps" who is a part of the whole affair. The bathe at Cookham was splendid, and the sight of noted surgeons and physicians sitting under the water-falls was a thing not to be forgotten. By the time Marlow was reached, everyone was ready for lunch and did their duty to it, which was quite up to the usual standard. After lunch "rounders" was played by everyone. Cookham was then made for, where a tea was provided by the kindness of some of the staff. The annual photo was taken, and then another move was made for Taplow; train taken for town, and songs and stories ended a very jolly day.
The annual meeting was held for this season in March. Mr Treves was elected President, and a new secretary was appointed, and it is hoped that this year will end with the club having won the challenge cup, and having had the best attended picnic on record.
The Annual Scratch Races were held on May 16th, 1894, and were most successful, as many as seven boats rowing. Most of the races were closely contested, and the rowing on the whole was fair, considering that most of the men had not handled an oar this year. The final was not so closely contested as some of the previous heats, but it was very good race - Mr CE Sparkes' boat winning by about a length.
The winning crew was composed of AE Sears (bow), AP Gibbons (2), Crossman (3), CE Sparkes (stroke), Stutter (cox.
The House-Governor kindly came down to pick out, if possible, any likely men for the boat. The Pots were down at the boat house, and were handed over to the men after the races - a distinct improvement on former years.
The annual water picnic was held this year on Friday, June 22nd, the weather as usual being fine, though the preceeding week was very rainy, and did not hold out any great prospects for a fine day. However, luck favoured us, as it has pleased to do for the last eight years, so much so that our "picnic weather" has become almost as proverbial as the well known royalty weather. Our annual picnic is always a success, but this year it was even more so in some respects than those of former years, for in point of numbers it was a record one - fifty-nine (including eleven of the staff, seven visitors and forty-one men) sitting down to lunch at Marlow. It is always a pleasure to us to be able to welcome visitors, and we hope that, having once joined us, they will do us the honour of coming again. As in former years, a comfortable saloon was awaiting us at Paddington, which, in a little time ran us quickly down to Taplow. From that station we made our way to the boat house, where a number of boats were in readiness. As usual, there was a certain amount of excitement which should be the first boat to get under weigh; certain genial spirits, refusing to be parted even for a few hours, somewhat overloaded a ran-dan, giving rise to grave fears as to the ultimate destination of the crew, that small portion of the boat which could be seen above the water line being satirically dubbed the Ark.
Arriving at the Cookham back-water, most of us proceeded to make ready for our annual bathe. We noticed that the Ramps did not bathe, probably because the water had not been guaranteed antiseptic. After the bathe, and a short stay at Cookham for refreshments, we started for the long pull to Marlow, which we reached after a fair amount of hard rowing, and several feeble attempts at sailing by the lazy members of the party. Mrs Hoddinott, of the "Fisherman's Retreat", had provided a capital lunch, which was supplemented by strawberries and cream, generously supplied by one of our visitors - Mr Silcock of St Mary's Hospital. The President towards the end of lunch gave a short resumé of former picnics in his happy style, and at the same time congratulating the Hon.Sec. on this being the largest on record. Short speeches were then made by Captain Pritchard, Mr Munro Scott and the Hon.Sec. We then adjourned to the garden, where an agile photographer, who appeared to be suffering from chorea, attempted to pose us with more or less success. After a short interval, we started on our return journey to Cookham, a snap shot being taken of all the boats while in Marlow lock. The crews feeling unequal to any exertion after lunch, sails were set, and thanks more to the stream than the wind, we eventually arrived at Cookham at about five o'clock. Some of the more hardy members, headed by the President, retired to the back-water for a second bathe. After tea, which had been kindly provided by our President and Mr Gilmart-Smith, we adjourned to a neighbouring meadow and had a capital game of base ball, but on running out of our stock of balls in about an hour's time, we left for Maidenhead, where we had time to change comfortably and reach the station ten minutes before the train started. The journey from Taplow to Paddington was enlivened by numerous songs and anecdotes, and as we neared the terminus all joined in singing "Auld Lang Syne". Paddington was reached at a little befor nine, when we seperated, all expressing the sincere hope that we should meet in even larger numbers in the following year.
Those desiring photographs of the picnic can obtain the same on application to Stacey.
Boating on the lea commenced on May 1st. The club has had a fairly succesful season. Two fours were entered for the Inter-Hospital Races, training commencing three weeks before the day. The following were the crews:-
WB Heywood (bow)
HE Finch (2)
WH Wakefield (3)
LS Gaskell (stroke)
A Moritz (cox)
PK Nix (bow)
H Howard (2)
EG Battiscombe (3)
H Barraclough (stroke)
H Wallis (cox)
Four crews, London, St George's, St Thomas' and Middlesex, entered for the senior fours.
A sharp wind blew across and down the course, making the water very lumpy. Our men got a bad start, as, when the word was given, their boat was not straight, and their oars clashed for severel strokes with those of St. George's. A good race ensued between St. George's and Middlesex, at the finish London being about two lengths behind St. George's.
The Junior Four rowed well, but, despite repeated spurts by their stroke, were unable to beat Middlesex, who won by a clear length.
The club is very much indebted to an anonymous fried of Mr Wakefield, for he present of a new Four for the races, and we are glad to be able to take this opportunity of thanking him.
The Annual Boating Picnic was held on June 28th. A large party left Paddington in the early morning, including many members of the staff, and we were very glad to have Mr Dean with us again, after his recent illness.
A most enjoyable day was spent on the river between Maidenhead and Marlow. Bathing at Cookham was indulged in by nearly all present, though we missed Ramps from his usual place beneath the Weir.
Lunch at Marlow followed, and we migrated from the Fisherman's Retreat to an Infants' School, an incident aptly alluded to by our President in his speech after lunch.
Dr Stephen Mackenzie and Mr Openshaw joined us at luncheon.
After lunch the usual photograph was taken in the grounds of the Fisherman's Retreat, and then, by gradual stages, the return journey to Cookham was made.
By the kindness of our President and Dr Gilbart-Smith, tea was provided at Cookham for the Party.
After tea, owing to rain setting in, the usual game of rounders could not be played, but instead, a hasty retreat for Taplow was made, most members of the party catching the 7.09 train back to town, and thus ended a very pleasent day.
The Annual General Meeting of the Rowing Club was held in the Athenaeum on Tuesday April 21st. The Chair was taken by the President of the Club, Frederick Treves Esq.
The general business matters of the club were dealt with, and the election of officers for the season took place.
Mr Treves was unanimously re-elected President. RW Wakefield was re-elected Captain. Vice-Captain H Finch. Hon.Secretary JS Duddin, and the Committee consisted of Messrs. Salt, Gaskell, Battiscombe, Wallis, WR Wilson and R Griffith.
It was a splendid day for a boat race, so we thought, as we went up river on Thursday last to see the race for the United Hospitals' Challenge Cup rowed. The tide was running down at a fair pace whe we reached Hammersmith, what little wind there was, was favourable, and the water smooth as a mill pond. London and Middlesex had their boats sent up, George's paddled up from Putney in their boat.
We were not kept waiting long, and as our, crew paddled up to the stake boat we felt that we had a splendid chance of winning the much coveted cup, and that the crew who had given themselves up to their training and careful preparation were to win the reward of their labours.
George's had the Middlesex shore, Middlesex were on the Surrey side, and we were at the middle station. After the usual warning the boats were sent off to a beutiful start, George's and London being particularly smart; at the fourth stroke the London Boat was leading by nearly the length of the canvas and we Londoners were joyous. Middlesex were already tailing off, but instead of going away as we so fondly hoped, it was seen that the London men did not get into a good swing as we expected, and had seen them do in practice, and were far from comfortable. 2 particularly was snatching at the water and jerking his blade through with his arms, the other three rowed well, but it was evidnet that bow side were the stronger. Slowly George's forged ahead, their coxswain coming right across the river to the Surrey shore, and Middlesex who were clear behind London, to the suprise of all began to hold the other boats. So the race progressed, George's always leading, London just behind. At the top of the concrete wall our stroke excellently backed up by 3 made a big effort, but something was evidently wrong, the boat did not travel as it should. So all the competitors went on, Geoge's gained a trifle and finished at Putney Bridge nearly a clear length ahead of London, who dropped back until they were overlapped and touched by Middlesex. We were terribly disappointed. Our crew paddled back and then as they drew up to the landing stage, we saw for the first time what had happened, 2 threw out his strecher in two pieces. We heard afterwards that at the third stroke two had made rather too much use of his great power and his strecher had gone, split right across the middle, so that he had only his arms to trust to, and it was fortunate for him, after all, that they are such strong arms. Our luck, we went back to see the race for the Junior fours, and were prepared for anything. Our second crew was made up of willing worker, keen as could be, but without much experience. To our surprise Middlesex came out in a tub four; they thought, so we heard, that they could keep her steadier, and so score a point. Our men rowed excellently at the sixth stroke were clear, at the 10th a length ahead, and so they went on. We were a little consoled - and will have another try for the cup next year, for we felt that our first boat too had rowed exceedingly well under the circumstances.
Misfortune seems to attend the "London" in all its athletic ventures. All who knew anything about the rowing this year hoped, and many expected, that for once the hospital would be succesful and break the run of bad luck. For the last month before the race we had been out every day, the House-Governor sparing no trouble to get down to coach us; on the few occasions he could not so arrange we were taken in hand by Mr Scott, who, though neither a member of the hospital nor a medical, showed the greatest keeness to see us win. Before the race no trustworthy comparison between our opponants and ourselves was possible. St. George's had rowed a trial course and so had we, but under widely different circumstances, while the Middlesex crew ere an unknown quantity. The race was rowed on the morning of the tenth, on a strong stream and smooth water. Mr Elington kindly undertook the duties of starter and umpire. We had the centre station, St. George's had the Middlesex, and Middlesex the coveted Surrey station.
At the start the George's crew had an advantage of a few feet. The start was rather a scramble, as we did not expect to be off so soon. In the middle of the second stroke the boat gave a huge roll on to bow side, this was caused by two breaking his stretcher, his stretcher was broken right across. At about the tenth stroke we were level with George's and Middlesex were a few feet behind, the boat was pretty level but there was a lack of "jump" at the beginning. George's now began to gain slightly, and by Harrods were three quarters of a length ahead. We were rowing a slow stroke and well within ourselves, and felt quite satisfied in keeping so close to George's, trusting to superior training to bring us home at the finish. In the next 300 yards George's got clear by about a quarter of a length and came right in front of us. Stroke, feeling their wash, put on a spurt and we closed up a little, forcing them back to their own water. By this manoeuvre stroke brought his crew overlapping once more. The increased stroke however, soon caused the rowing to get ragged, this rather disconcerted us at the ime, as nobody had an idea that anything was wrong, 2 wisely keeping his wind for business purposes. Stroke saw that a fast stroke did not pay and dropped again to about 30. By the mile post George's were again clear by half a length, but two of their men had evidently had enough of it. Middlesex now crossed behind us into George's water. We still appeared to have a good look in, the only noticeable point being the amount of rudder required to prevent bow-side pulling stroke side round. At Craven Point George's held their greatest lead - 2 lengths - and crossed in front of us to the Surrey side. At the commencement of the stone wall stroke again tried to quicken, but we were at once all at sea, as 2 could not recover in time at the end of the srtoke, and bow kept hitting him in the back. Stroke resigned himslef to the inevitable and relapsed into the old rate of 30. It was, when we saw that for some reason we could not quicken, that we realissed that we were not likely to win. Opposite the real commencement of the boat-houses we were a length and a half behind. We now came into a tremendous wash, worse than any we had met in practice; however, the boat travelled through it wonderfully well, only once shipping the top of a wave, whereas George's were soon half full of water.
This enabled us to get within a few feet of them, and if only we could have pulled up so as to bump them, we should have won on a foul as they were in our water. Stroke tried to quicken; but, as before, the boat only went more slowly, and George's eventually won by a length and a half. Middlesex made a great spurt in the last few feet and bumped us as we passed under the bridge. Stroke was rather done at the finish, bow and 3 were pretty fresh, 2 was very tired through having to row with his arms, but had enough wind left to talk to his strecher, forcibly and not politely.
It is impossible to estimate the effect on the race of 2's broken stretcher, but an accident which deprived the crew of the full services of their heaviest man, necessitated a constant use of the rudder and effectivly prevented the rowing of a fast stroke, must have been worth many lengths. On the other hand it is equally impossible to say how much a winning crew have left in them. The crew went out of training at the "Holborn". One of them has not been seen since.
Our experiences on the memorable day began at Putney, witnessing the finish of the first race. After such a spectacle our words as we paddled up to Hammersmith were few, even for a crew in training - and had had a week's!
Arrived at Biffen's, we bagan to think of our own race. There was the craft, the boatsmen solemnly assured us, our rivals were to use:-
Starting from stake-boats in a rapid stream, was a novelty of no mean lumen, and how we did get off we never quite knew. Stroke was said to have had his oar upside down when the gun ws fired!
Poor as was our start, we gained about a length in the first six strokes, ad in spite of our rolling and wobbling, it was soon evident that unless someone caught a crab, or a steamer swamped us, we must win.
After passing Harrod's we simply paddled, while "the goodly vessel", with its four beating oars, fell steadily further and further behind. Once only in the mile and three quarters were we in any great jeopardy; that was about 300 yards from the finish. Cox was seen to vary our course, and stroke grunted out some remark, but after plenty of unexpressed thoughts, we found ourselves safely under Putney Bridge.
The Middlesex men soon arrived, having apparently expended a good deal more energy than we had. Certainly we had not advised their rowing in a "tub-ship" - but "there's no accounting for taste".
At the general meeting of the Rowing Club the following officers were elected to serve for the ensuing year: - President, Mr Treves, FRCS; Captain, JS Dudding; Vice-Captain, EG Battiscombe; Hon Secretary, WR Wilson; Committee, Messers R Griffith, Barnes, Finch, Wallis, Newland and Bonnin.
On Monday, May 24th, the scratch fours were rowed at Clapton, over the usual course. There were a fair number of entries, and the races afforded great excitement and much amusement. For the most part the crews were very evenly drawn, and some very good races resulted, especially the race between Bonnin's crew and Wilson's crew; appended are the crews with the result of races: - TS Dudding (bow), EW Grogono, Gauld, Finch (stroke), Wallis (cox) beat Anderton (bow), JR Morton FM Morris, Killick (stroke) Reilly (cox). This was a good race up to half way, when Finch's crew drew ahead and won easily. Ridge (bow) Soltau, Battiscombe, WR Wilson (stroke), Balean (cox), beat Morcom (bow), O'Flahertie, Howard, Bonin (stroke), Aylen (cox). Bonin's crew were hot favourites, but were unfortunate in having to row on the Essex side of the river, where they got on to the shallows; a grand race followed, both crews being level up to twenty yards of the winning post, when Wilson's crew who were better together, drew out and won by four feet. Finch's crew beat GS Wand (bow), Baleine, Young, HW Clarke (stroke), Beet (cox). In the final Wilson's crew met Finch's crew, a good race resulting in a win for Wilson's crew by half a length.
The morning broke grey and a little rain was falling, and during the night there had been haevy storms; perhaps that was the reason why only 40 men turned up at Paddington at 8.55am. But the sombre weather seemed rather to exhilirate than depress the party, for the fun waxed furious from the first. We filled but five boats at Taplow, and the pull up to Cookham was chiefly remarkable for its quietness. The usual reports that bathing would not be permitted had, of course, been circulated, and when we reached the weir pool we found that they had more foundation than on former years, for a flood had carried away the diving boards and a great part of the bank with them. This did not deter us however, and a high bank served our turn for running dives, whilst several or our party met in mimic warfare in the meadow by the stream, tilting at each other with dripping mops.
Then we returned to Cookham and found the bar parlour and cellar crowded witha laughing crowd helping themselves to cake and biscuits, whilst the barmaid, a yound lady of singularly impartial affections, hustled her way through the crowd supplying the drinks. Mr Treves joined us here, and then we paddled up to Marlow and strolled about the town until dinner was ready. This function was as succesful as usual, the appetites as voracious, and the party as merry.
The usual facetious photograph followed, and then we started at once for Cookham.
When once clear of Marlow lock we hoisted our sails and started a most exciting race. The wind was right behind us and blew up in fierce squalls. One mast carried right overboard with its sail, and the crew had to rig a jury mast made from a skull. Another broke their yard. Mr Openshaw's boat led about half way through the race, but Mr Treves' boat having guyed their mast to guard against squalls got to weather and romped in an easy first, with Mr Dudding's boat second and Mr Openshaw's third.
At Cookham we had tea, and then dropped down to Cookham lock and practically drifted from there to Boulter's, for the wind blew all round the compass and was very unequal.
As we eneterd the lock the battle of Boulter's lock commenced, it raged all through the time the lock was emptying and ws finished in the river below.
Mr Pike defended his rudder with fierce determination, and when at last he and his rudder were removed in one piece to an enemy's boat he looked rather like a drowned rat, but he had his revenge, for whilst the crew were busy with the Staff boat, Mr Pike threw nealr all there skulls, boat hooks, etc. overboard.
Mr Scott's friend, who defended the Staff rudder, was rather roughly handled with a dripping mop, but his was s portsman of the highest order, and took his drenching without flinching and with perfect good humour. We hope to see him again and promise to treat him better next time.
When the fight was over the conquering crew, with a superfluity of rudders, booty and captives, could only muster two odd sculls with which to return to the lock for what their captives had thrown overboard. At last we landed at Taplow once more, and the secretary settled our bill for breakages, which the boatman said, to our surprise, grew less and less each year. This bill and our tea were defrayed by the generosity of Mr Treves and Dr Gilbart-Smith.
By a little arrangement nearly everybody who was wet secured a change of clothes, and then, our energy expended, at last we journeyed to London in comparative peace.
Wednesday, May 18th, was a great day in the annals of the London Hospital Rowing Club, and one that will long be remembered, for on that day our crew won back for the Hospital the Cup which for 6 years has been absent from our walls.
The morning broke fine and sunshiny, but a keen north wind was blowing, and made the lot of spectators a chilly one indeed. The launch chartered for the occasion left London Bridge at 10.15, with a large company on board, including several ladies, amongst whom we noticed Mrs GQ Roberts.
Putney was reached at 11.15, and we were soon ashore and found the crew ready for the contest, and all looking very fit. Needless to say, the stretchers of our boat were carefully examined, to prevent a recurrence of that unfortunate disaster which brought us such bad fortune last year.
As most of our readers know, only three Hospitals had entered two crews - St. George's (the holders of the cup), Middlesex and ourselves. Critics were uncertain as to the result of the race, but George's were favourites, especially as the water round Crab Tree bend was very rough, owing to the strong wind blowing. The crews were afloat by 12, and paddled down to their stations at Putney Bridge. It was then seen that George's had won the toss, and got the advantage of position. They chose centre, whilst Middlesex had the Middlesex bank, and London the Surrey side. This position was perhaps the worst, being the most exposed.
Just before the start, the inevitable tug and barge came along, and George's and our boats got the full effect of the wash.
At the signal the boats got away well together, Middlesex appearing to have a slight advantage, and rowing 35 to the minute, our men rowing 34.
It was soon evident that the race was going to be a close one from start to finish. Middlesex had the lad at first, and kept their position for the first half of a mile. They rowed neatly and well together, but they lacked the ability to stick, and at Craven Point were overhauled and passed by George's and ourselves - George's leading us by several feet. Attention was now centred on the latter two boats, which settled down to a hard struggle for first place, Middlesex, barring accidents, being out of the race. Despite the deafening uproar sustained by the London supporters, George's was now seen to be establishing a distinct lead, and at Fulham Football ground they were over a length to the good, and our hopes were falling.
But here the water was much rougher, and our opponents began to roll considerably, whilst the London boat, despite many prognostications from the knowing ones, was travelling well and on an even keel. Amidst loud cheers our boat reduced the lead stroke by stroke, and gradually overlapped. Despite a piece of erratic steering here, they held their own, and opposite Harrods Stores the boats were level. Rudge now quickened, and was backed up gamely by the men behind him, who were all rowing strongly and well in hand. Orme responded, but the lack of training in the George's men began to be apparent, and it seemed that they were also too heavy for their boat, which rolled considerably. We drew away at every stroke, and, amidst loud cheers, shot under Hammersmith Bridge first; when the distance judge declared the London winners by a length. There was much excitement and renewed cheering. Time 8.51
Our crew rowed splendidly throughout, keeping a capital length and pulling well through. This was especially noticeable in the rough water, where the rowing was magnificent. Rudge timed his effort splendidly, and showed himself a capable stroke, and every one of the crew supported him gamely. Their boat suited them excellently, and they seemed thoroughly at home in it. It will be remembered that it was presented to the club by Mr Treves, to whose kindness in this direction the result of the race was no doubt in part due.
"Splendid race," "Worth going miles to see," "Magnificently rowed," and so on, were the exclamations heard all around when the race was over.
Our men had, under the care of Mr GQ Roberts, to whose kindness we are again indebted, and of Mr Ord, trained assiduously; they rowed well, and they fairly won on their merits. It is understood that the training was bought to a satisfactory conclusion the same evening, but the press were not admitted to that event.
Our crew consisted of RW Payne (bow), CN Groves, R Warren, EGH Rudge (stroke), E Cox (cox).
Naturally, the race for the second crews was not nearly so exciting. An easy win was predicted for London, but, like so many other prophecies, it was not fulfilled. Our boat had choice of station and chose Middlesex, and Middlesex, being the only other competitor, was in mid-stream. Our men went away badly, but soon were leading by half a length, when bow caught a crab, and the crew stopped to consider matters for several strokes. On resuming rowing they were a couple of lengths behind, and the race from this point was merely a procession. Our men seemed quite disorganised, Anderson being the only man who kept a good length. Then 3 followed bow's example, and so the race progressed, Middlesex winning by 6 lengths.
London crew - HN Clarke (bow), APM Anderson, H Dodson, A Killick (stroke) GE Topham (cox).
A small cloud of cyclists watched the boat race from the bank, but only a few "London" men turned out in this wise to see their representatives win ANOTHER CUP. As things turned out it was the best way to watch the race, as the swift cruiser, the "Saucy Belle", or something like that, was quite unable to keep up with the "pacy" fours (being only geared up to about 3 3/4 knots an hour, I am given to understand). The wind was blowing strongly from the SE when the boats turned out, being more in their favour than anything else, and spectators on the "Belle" looked blue with cold. It was 12.15 p.m. when she dashed under Putney Bridge, and we heard the welcome "Are you ready - go!" from the umpire standing in the conning tower, I mean the bows (I trust that my mistakes in this line will be forgiven me, as I am not a nautical man).
London put her nose in front first, then came Middlesex - who had the Middlesex station - whilst George's, in the middle, brought up the rear. London increased their lead to half a length, but were not going well, lacking swing. Middlesex were drawing up, with George's just behind. George's were going beautifully at this stage, splashing very little, and rowing like one man. It was looking a bad thing for either of the other two boats, as gradually they crept up, and finally took up a lead of about a length in front of Middlesex, London now being behind; this was the order up to about half way. Rudge quickened a little, just to encourage the others as it were, and Middlesex, tiring somewhat, fell behind. We were now just about at a level with George's rudder, and it was here that the marvellous change cam about. Gradually, very gradually, the stroke quickened, whilst inch by inch that length was reduced. The swing was grand now, and every man pulled like an ox, at the same time the boat was as steady as could be wished for. Inch by inch we pulled up. At Harrods it was anybody's race, but Rudge had his men in hand, and never gave the other boat a chance. George's bow was greatly distressed; stroke was getting wet; the men on the cruiser in the distance were roaring; they seemed to know instinctively that the crisis had come, though they couldn't see. The excitement on shore became intense, so much so that one of the cyclists rode into the river. I had not time to see whether or no he was drowned, but have reason to believe that he was saved by his tyres or his terrier.
"London wins!" was the cry of the two Londoners on the bank, as our nozzle was pushed in front. A tremendous spurt down the last hundred yards and we won by half a length. Not being a rowing man I can make no attempt to criticise the watermanship, but one thing, if ever a stroke won his boat the race, then Rudge won us this. His judgement was superb; had he spurted a minute sooner or later, we should not have won. Middlesex came in third, about 1 1/2 lengths behind George's; they had rowed a good race, and they had fought a good fight, but they never looked like winning. The "Saucy Belle" came in a good fourth.
Then we toiled back to see the second boats' race. On the way we interviewed those on the warship, which we found tied up to the railing by a piece of string, photographed the crew and the ladies, and compared notes generally.
Once again the "Saucy Belle" dashed under Putney Bridge, and once again the word to go was given, and once again London took the lead. Away they went at 40 to the minute, and were soon a length ahead. But they didn't get far; bow - I think it was bow - if it wasn't I apologise; well bow caught a crab, which necessitated a halt. They just had time to exchange a few words with Middlesex as the latter sauntered leisurely past. When things were at last put to rights, they started again in great form, cox doing the best work in the boat. Half-way was reached at last, when a second delay arose; it was No. 2 this time who caught a crab. This rush for time upset existing arrangements, and tended somewhat to demoralise the rest, especially as No. 3 seemed to experience considerable difficulty in getting his oar above water, his frantic efforts to get his oar out nearly wrecked the craft. In addition to this the armoured cruiser, the aforesaid "Belle", was coming along at full speed, cleared for action, with torpedo nets out, and reversing engines out of gear, and narrowly escaped ramming the smaller boat. Shouts of encouragement from the shore, and the steamer induced them to once more get under weigh, and after an adventurous voyage of about 20 minutes they finally got in, Middlesex thus winning by infinity.
Our 17th Annual Boating Picnic was held on Friday, the 17th June, and, from the point of view of the weather, was perhaps the most successful we have had in late years. Our route, was as usual, from Maidenhead to Marlow, and over 50 men turned up at Paddington, including 7 members of the staff. We were pleased to see Mr Quany Silcock again, and must congratulate him on his courage in turning up, after his somewhat damp experiences of last year. Several men rode down on bicycles from town, prominent among them the Poplar contingent, who had evidently counted on having a slack time on the river. We were delighted to see that they were made to row both out and home.
We missed a prominent member of the Surgical Staff, and learnt to our infinite grief, that, having lost us at the start, instead of trying to overtake us, he had preferred to drown his sorrow all day in the bar at Skindles.
At Cookham we had our usual plunge; nearly everyone was in the water, and we believe that several photographs of the scene, more or less unfit for publication, will shortly be issued. They include views of the Hospital Naiads below the weir, the Heavenly Twins in mid-stream, carefully submerged up to the neck, and others. Then followed our usual raid on the bar at Cookham. After a short and sharp fight, the place was carried by our first line, and a general advance made on the cellar. The defenders fled, leaving a large amount of cake, biscuits and unlimited shandy in the hands of the attackers. We fervently hope it was all paid for, at any rate, we saw one man put down 2d. and walk off with a large tin of biscuits and a gin and ginger; the great heat must have affected his powers of reckoning.
We then started for Marlow with much less energy than before. At the Fisherman's Retreat, we found as good a lunch waiting for us as can be got anywhere on the river. The heat in the room was intense, and a deep lethargy stole over the party, only broken by the peels of laughter that greeted the anecdotes of the Medical Staff. It was obviously not the time for speeches, and after our President, Mr Treves, had piously returned thanks, we filed out slowly for the photograph.
Many interesting snap-shots were now taken of the Staff, including one of an eminent surgeon and cyclist, in a position of double talipes varus, and one of a prominent physician equally noted for the vigour of his rowing and language, placidly sleeping with his hands clasped over the region of his omentum.
As usual, the wind was in our favour coming home, and those who had not rowed upstream were on thoroughly good terms with themselves as we slipped down the long Bourne End Reach. At Cookham, Dr Gilbart-Smith was our genial host at tea. Unfortunately, our usual game of rounders did not come off in the old meadow as we found the grass knee deep, and the field reduced to half its size.
We got back to Maidenhead about 6.45 p.m., ample time to catch our homeward train.
Thus ended a splendid day, for which our heartiest thanks are due to the Secretary and Committee of the Rowing Club.
This Club held its annual meeting in the Athenaeum, on Wednesday, 15th inst., when the chair was taken by the Hon. Sydney Holland. There was a good muster of men, and the proceedings went off, if somewhat hurriedly, at least, without any discord of opinion. The chairman made a few remarks concerning success in rowing, remarking that the best crew did not always win, as instanced by the fact that when he was stroking a certain crew, it was beaten, and that when he transferred to the other boat, the latter was defeated, proof positive that the best crew was not always successful.
The Hon. Secretary, Mr WR Wilson, was then called on to read the minutes of the last annual general meeting, and these were confirmed without comment. The annual report was most satisfactory in many ways; it announced the success of the water picnic, both financially and socially, and of course commented with elation on the great triumph of winning the Cup. We were glad to learn that in all probability, the same crew would, without exception, be available for the race this year.
The resources of the club had not been severely taxed for boat hire, for ordinary members, only 3/6 having been disbursed on this account.
Finally, both report and balance sheet were accepted by the meeting. The election of officers was then proceeded with. It was felt that it would be most unfortunate if the club were to lose its President, Mr Frederick Treves, who, since its foundation, has been its most active supporter, and it was unanimously resolved to again approach him, and ask him to take the office of permanent Vice-President. As President, the Hon. Sydney Holland was, with acclamation, elected. The Vice-Presidents were re-elected, and Mr Ord and Mr Paine, the retiring captain, were also elected. As Captain, Mr Groves was chosen, and Mr Dodson as second Boat-Captain, while to fill the place of Secretary, Mr Warren was elected. The Committee were Messrs. Newland, Bonnin, Griffith, Killick, Rudge and WR Wilson.
There being no further business, the meeting terminated.
We have been beaten. We offer our sincere congratulations to the victors, and we feel that when our crew was beaten by such a crew as that of St. George's Hospital this year, after a capital fight, we covered ourselves with credit rather than disgrace of any kind. We shall all watch anxiously to see what the St. George's four does at Henley, where they are entered for the Stewards'; and whilst we can only express the hope that they will win, we can say with assurance that they are quite as good a crew as has often won the Stewards'.
There was one alteration in our crew from that which represented us so succesfully in 1898; Reischpeth being introduced at bow instead of RW Payne, who was incapacitated by a strained knee, and further, had other duties which kept him from practice. We knew that we had a difficult task before us if we were to keep the cup which has adorned the lobby for the last 12 months. St. George's were so strong that they were able to let an old Cambridge Blue, who represented them in the previous year, stand out, and they were represented in the race itself by the four men who have rowed together for some years past, and brought credit both to themselves and to Caius College, by winning the fours at Cambridge.
In spite of the fact that at least two men who were representing us were very busily engaged at the hospital, they found time for a long and steady practice, first on the Lea and afterwards at Putney. Mr RHP Orde took an immense interest in the crew, gave up all his spare time to them, and was assiduous in coaching them.
So far, we have not mentioned St. Thomas's Hospital which was fairly well represented, but we naturally have most to say about ourselves, and any spare feelings that we had, were directed towards to St. George's lot; yet the crew from St. Thomas's was really a capital one, and in ordinary years would have a made a very good show; the fact that our men beat them pretty easily, shows that our crew was very good. We had a splendid day for the race, and our men turned up in excellent style to back their boat, in fact, so well, that by the time the steamer had picked up our contingent, there was not much room left for those who joined the boat at the up-river piers. Unfortunately, by some mistake, the boat missed calling at Charing Cross, and left some of our visitors behind; they had our sympathy, but were beyond our help.
The Race - The three boats came out on the top of the flood tide, and were in a good position for a capital start when the usual tug and barges came up the river; the captain of our steamer hesitated' and instead of going through the bridge and giving the starter an opportunity of getting the boats off when they were quite ready to go, he let the tug get through, turned our steamer round, and then went after the tug. The result was that our boat started in rather rougher water than the other crews. St. George's went off excellently and our men made the best of a bad matter, and went for them hard. The race itself is easily described, it was a case of St. George's rowing well, keeping ahead of our men, and gradually increasing the lead. Our men never went to pieces, they worked hard, but they undoubtedly met a better crew than themselves; we commend each and all for their efforts.
We did our best to encourage our men by shouts from the boat, but it was early evident that we should have to wait for another year before we could cheer them as victors.
We went back to Putney, and the second boats representing St. George's and ours were ready for the start in the second crew race; in this, we made an even better fight than in the first. The boats were fairly even for the first half of the journey, but after that, St. George's began gradually to creep away keeping well out in the tide, whilst our men got rather into the slack water. George's once more won, though not by quite such a distance as the first boat had done.
We hope our men will make an effort next year such as they have made this year, and that the general encouragement which has been given to the boating this season will bear good fruit, and that plenty of men will be keen on getting into the boat. We shall still have Rudge, who is an excellent stroke and will be of the greatest value; Warren, too, will be available as well as Reischpeth, bow. We shall possibly have to look out, we are sorry to say, for another No. 2, so that there may be room for a good man.
The Chairman of the House-Committee, the Hon. Sydney Holland, has paid the boat club a compliment by becoming President, and we hope that with his encouragement, and with the coaching available in the Hospital, men will remeber that a good deal can be learnt on the River Lea, and that we can look for a happy future on the River.