Oxford Rowing In The 1930s

In an old rowing pamphlet I bought a couple of years ago, I found an old letter (or the first page of a letter; as it is not signed there might have been more pages) from 4 November 1930. Although, I can make out most of what it says, the handwriting makes it hard to read some names and words. Maybe there is someone out there that might be able to help me to identify the writer of the letter and the recipient?

The writer of the letter is using a sheet with a printed letter-head: “Wood Lodge, Burgh Heath, Tadworth, Surrey.” The writer, who seems to be a coach, maybe for Christ Church College, or the Oxford coach, is addressing the letter to: “My dear Gladder[?]” It goes on by saying: “What do you think about young [Donald Erskine-] Crum? I have been watching him rather carefully in [unreadable] and saw him race against Balliol last Thursday, when they got beaten.”

Donald Erskine-Crum, Eton & Christ Church College, rowed in three losing Oxford boats in the Boat Race in 1931, 1932, and 1933. Lewis Clive, Eton & Christ Church College, is also mentioned, sitting in this boat. Clive rowed in the losing Oxford boat at the Boat Race in 1930 and 1931, but won the Silver Goblets at Henley in 1931 and 1932, both years with ‘Jumbo’ Edwards. Later in 1932, they became Olympic champions in the coxless pair at the Los Angles’ Games (rowing being held at Long Beach).

About Clive, the writer states: “Lewis Clive was heaving himself about like a landslide (which didn’t give Crum a chance), & Forester [?] at ‘2’ was following Lewis in his antics!”

Now, is there anyone who can enlighten me or give me a qualified guess, whom the letter writer and the recipient, Gladder [?] might have been? Thank you in advance!

Below, you will find a newsreel from 1931 from British Pathé showing Oxford training on the Thames at Henley. According to official results from the Boat Race that year, Lewis Clive rowed at No. 6 and Donald Crum in seat No. 7. A blurred photograph in a book is showing Lewis Clive at the Olympic rowing in 1932, that might match the oarsman in 6-seat in the newsreel…



  1. With the help of my cousin, I think I have cracked this. It is a letter from my great uncle Stanley Garton (A.S Garton OUBC 1909-1911)to A.C.Gladstone (my first cousins's great uncle and OUBC 1909-1911) about my uncle Donald Erskine Crum ( W D C Erskine Crum OUBC 1931-33). Stanley may not have known that Donald was related to A C Gladstone. In effect we have my great uncle pooring cold water on my uncle although the two families were not connected at that stage (until my parents wedding in 1939). Between the various elements of the family there are 23 Oxford rowing blues. robin.garton@theglaciertrust.org

  2. R.G. – Well, as I have mentioned earlier in an entry or two on this blog, I did not have a distinguished rowing career either… I have just visited The Glacier Trust web site – keep up the good work!

  3. My father was on the Balliol team, Oxford, 1933. When he died, I inherited his 'engraved' rowing oar which displays the crest, team members' names and positions, 'bumps' and '2nd torpid' from the year 1933. I'm just learning what all of that means, having grown up in the states and never took up rowing myself. Thank you for a wonderful blog, however.

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