Eric Lupton – The Last European Sculling Champion

Doggett’s winners, ca. 1960: Harold Green (1924), Eric Lupton (1940), George Gobbett (1913) and Kenneth Collins (1957).

Some days ago, HTBS received an interesting e-mail from Colin Collier in Gravesend. He wanted to say that he was pleased to have come across an entry on HTBS, from 10 June, 2009, where Eric Lupton, the professional sculler was mentioned. Lupton was the 1940 Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race winner in a race held in 1947 (as there were no Doggett’s races during the Second World War). Colin writes in his e-mail: ‘Just after the War the Gravesend Regattas were started and I lived then a short distance from the riverside pub The Ship and Lobster – this was the Gravesend centre for professional scullers. My father, who was a Thames Waterman, was involved with the revival and was a friend of Eric Lupton and the Palmer family who were all professional scullers.’

Eric Lupton is mostly famous for racing Eric Phelps (on the left) for the professional European Sculling Championship. First time they met for the championship was in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1950. One of the famous rowing journalists and writers at that time was the Evening Standard’s Hylton Cleaver. He was a good friend of many professional oarsmen and he was involved in setting up the first meeting between the two Erics. On a website run by Lupton’s grandson, Nigel, you can read a letter of 25 April, 1950 that Cleaver wrote to Eric Lupton, here.

Phelps won the title in 1950 time, but lost it in 1954 to Lupton, who became the last European Professional Sculling Champion. To continue with Colin’s e-mail: ‘Eric Lupton was aided in his training by Dan Blackman who went to Germany with Eric [Lupton], who lost to Eric Phelps. When they [later] raced at Gravesend, I saw the whole race in Palmer’s motor boat which was following [the race]. I was 15 years old at that time, and I had started sculling myself which was known as “best boat rowing” locally. My boat was called Squeak which was originally owned by another Waterman, George Morgan.’ And Colin adds: ‘what memories you have stirred.’

How did it then go with Colin’s own sculling career? He writes: ‘I subsequently had a accident and dislocated my elbow which finished my sculling activities.’ Colin goes on by saying, ‘Interestingly, I applied to join the Gravesend Rowing Club, I was an apprenticed engineer and was told I could not join because I was an artisan.’ Colin finishes his e-mail by saying: ‘Eric Lupton and I had been good friends ever since he lived near me and he passed away about four years ago.’

There is a 1950 race report from the German rowing magazine Rudern here (in an English Google translation!)

My warmest thanks to Colin for sharing this exiting information!

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