On 27 October 1919, for £500 a-side, World Champion sculler Ernest Barry lost his title to the Australian Alfred Felton on the championship course between Putney and Mortlake. This was captured by Tom Webster, who was a cartoonist at the Daily Mail (see above and below). Almost a year later, 28 August, 1920, Barry took back the Champion title from Felton on the Parramatta River. Barry’s trip to Australia to regain the World title was made possible thanks to Webster’s newspaper. The Daily Mail started a public subscription to fund the Englishman’s voyage, which was going to cost £2,000 (£500 stake money and £1,500 for expenses). In his Sculling and Skulduggery Stuart Ripley claims that more than 100,000 people lined the Parramatta River for the race. After the race Barry retired from professional sculling.
“It’s nothing of the sort. It’s tails”. (Felton says) Ernest Barry may know a lot about the Thames but he doesn’t know a great deal about tossing.
Choosing the Middlesex side Felton went along in water that would not have disconcerted a really reckless sardine.
But Barry on the Surrey side was requiring something slightly superior to a “hush hush” ship in order to weather the storm.
The race was followed by a keen crowd on the banks – all shouting for Barry and some of them were kind enough to point out the winning post!
The chase was abandoned at Chiswick. The onlookers by that time being convinced that Britain no longer rules the waves.
Australian soldiers following the race. Twickenham spectator marked with a cross.
During the first mile the crew of Barry’s cutter sank and I didn’t see one of them wave him farewell.
A sporting finish. Barry sculls over to congratulate the winner.