Tim Koch writes:
As a post from the River and Rowing Museum (RRM) in Henley said last month, the general theme of this year’s Rowing History Forum at the RRM is ‘Women Come of Age in Rowing’, ‘this in the year when Oxford and Cambridge’s Women’s Boat Race took to the Tideway alongside the men and when rowing faces the challenge of the International Olympic Committee’s aim of gender equality by 2020’.
To reiterate, the keynote speakers at the forum on Saturday, 21 November are:
Annamarie Phelps, Chair of British Rowing, will speak on Women’s Rowing – From Assisted Drifting to Driving Force.
Thomas E. Weil, rowing historian, will unveil the Forgotten 19th Century Trailblazers of Women’s Rowing.
Mike Sweeney, Chairman of Henley Royal Regatta from 1993 – 2015. Mike’s talk will be on the theme Henley Royal Regatta never changes! After his quarter of a century in the chair overseeing more events for women, electing more female Stewards and introducing the Royal regatta to the world of YouTube.
Peter Mallory, author of The Sport of Rowing, will examine Early Women’s Rowing on the American Frontier, touching on the impact of the Pocock boat-building family’s move from Eton to Seattle.
Miriam Batten, chair of Henley Women’s Regatta and Olympic medal winning rower, will compare the event.
A report on the forum will follow. In the meantime, and as a ‘curtain raiser’ to the event, here are some fairly random historical images of women’s rowing, some from the ‘Hear The Boat Sing’ archives, some new to this site. Enjoy!
The HTBS post for International Women’s Day 2015 suggested that women’s rowing had been through three stages:
The 2014 International Women’s Day post for 2014 published the picture below to remind us as to why a few changes were/are needed:
The picture below inspired a piece on Tom Green’s Boathouse in Barnes, West London, for many years a welcoming place for women’s rowing.
Three of the pioneers of women’s rowing are remembered in the trio of pictures below. No doubt many other such women have been forgotten.
Possibly the above picture shows some of the women who took part in the first Women’s Head of the River Race in 1927, an event that had only two crews competing. I think that the woman standing second from the right is Amy Gentry, a famous advocate of women’s rowing from the 1920s until her death in 1976. In 1969, she was awarded the OBE for services to rowing.
Barff started rowing in the early 1920s with the Ace but by 1927 she was a founder member of Alpha Women’s Rowing Club. She won the Women’s Amateur Sculling Championships many times, some film of which is here. In the early 1930s, she was diagnosed with a heart condition and gave up racing but continued to coach and contribute to the women’s rowing scene for many years.
What is today Furnivall Sculling Club was founded in 1896 by Dr. Frederick Furnivall as the Hammersmith Sculling Club for Girls. Membership was extended to men in 1901 and the name was changed to Furnivall Sculling Club for Girls and Men. To safeguard the original ethos, it was ruled that the captain had to be a woman and that women should always be a majority on the club committee. The ‘girls’ did not have it all their own way – in the early years they had to leave the club once they were married, presumably to stop their rowing and sculling interfering with their ‘wifely duties’. A short history of Furnivall SC with some splendid pictures is on furnivall.org. Film, possibly including Furnivall, of ‘the Ladies Fours’ competing at Hammersmith Regatta in 1922 is online. The opening caption jokingly asks ‘Will the Ladies invade Henley?’
Some images from outside of the UK:
Tickets for the history forum at the RRM on 21 November cost £30 and include a buffet lunch. Please call 01491 415600 to book. More details can be found on the museum’s website www.rrm.co.uk. A pre-forum dinner with speaker Thomas E. Weil will take place at the River & Rowing Museum on 20 November. Tickets are £55 and includes a three-course meal and a glass of prosecco on arrival. Tickets can be purchased via phone on 01491 415 631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.