The Great Bourne Family

On Wednesday 13 July, in an HTBS entry, I asked for help to identify a small pamphlet called Oarsmanship, which I have in my rowing library. This 15-page brochure has not a cover, no printing year, and no name of the author. So far an ‘anonymous’ reader has suggested that it might be G.C. Bourne, who went up to Oxford in 1881. It is not a bad suggestion, but I am not sure if it really matches Bourne, who published his famous book A Text-Book of Oarsmanship in 1925. I have taken a good look in my copy of that book, but the writing style differs from the one in Oarsmanship. It is true that both authors mention old master Dr. Warre, but that would have been common practise during this time as Warre had such a major impact on the rowing style at Eton and Oxford for many years. I guess my question still is unanswered.

However, by coincident I just received an old article from 30 March 1946 (published in the Picture Post) about the the Bournes, “The Greatest Rowing Family”: Dr. Gilbert C. Bourne, his son Robert ‘Bob’ C. Bourne, who stroked four winning Oxford crews in the Boat Race 1909-1912, and his son, Robert ‘Bobbie’ M.A. Bourne, who was awarded his Blue in 1939, but had to give it up ten days before the Race due to hurting his hand. When World War II broke out he joined the 4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantary but was captured before Dunkirk. He spent five years as a P.O.W. After the war, he went up to Oxford again and earned his second Blue. At first his stroked but was moved to No. 4. The 1946 Boat Race was won by Oxford. (In the 1947 Boat Race, Bobbie Bourne was also rowing at No. 4, but that year the Race was won by Cambridge.)

On top is a sketch from 1882 when Gilbert C Bourne rowed bow in the winning Oxford crew in the Boat Race. The following year, still at bow, Bourne took his second victory in the Race.

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