In the beginning of the summer, the rowing historian Tom Weil brought a nice red coat and cap to the rowing exhibit “Let Her Run”, which is connected to the National Rowing Hall of Fame in Mystic. The coat, which is not just any ordinary coat, once belonged to Richard “Dick” Pocock, who, 21-years old, won the Thomas Doggett Coat and Badge Race on the River Thames in 1910. The following year Dick and his younger brother, George, immigrated to Canada.
Both Dick and George had grown up messing about in boats on the Thames. Their father, Aaron, was a boat builder who had served his apprenticeship under his father-in-law, “Grandpa Vicars”, but although Aaron Pocock was a skilled boat builder, he was not a good businessman, George recalls in his manuscript that would be integrated in the book Ready All! George Yeoman Pocock and Crew Racing (1987) by Gordon Newell.
After a year in Canada, Dick and George moved to Seattle – Dick bringing the Doggett’s coat with him. The brothers began to build boats for University of Washington, a trade that George would continue to do there for the rest of his life. In 1923, Dick moved to New Haven to build boats for Yale, but he left his red coat and cap behind in Seattle, where it was once on display at the university.
After Dick’s death, George’s son Stanley reclaimed the coat to send it to his cousin, Dick’s son Jim, in Connecticut. And earlier this year Jim Pocock thought that his father’s prize coat should be on display at the marvellous rowing exhibit “Let Her Run”. He handed over the coat and cap to Tom Weil, who took it to Mystic.
Right now, rowing historian Bill Miller is building a showcase for Dick’s Doggett coat, so that visitors will be able to see it at the Rowing Hall of Fame. Not only is this coat and cap a part of the English rowing history, it is now also a part of the American rowing history.
[Special thanks to Tom Weil for providing information about the background of Dick Pocock’s coat.]