Crewcial Collectables: A Family Heirloom

(An occasional column about affordable rowing memorabilia)

Greg Pic 1
A Family Heirloom. Photo: Simon Andrews

Greg Denieffe writes:

The HTBS crew have been helping people with their rowing enquiries for several years. Sometimes we can help directly and sometimes our readers come up with the answers. Occasionally we get nice feedback. In March 2012, I was passed a question by the President of Rowing Ireland that he had received from Lancashire-based Simon Andrews, who wrote:

I wonder if you would be able to help me with some rowing history or signpost me to a person who would be able to help. 

In my late father’s stuff, I found a blackened, silver plated, lidded trophy jug – perhaps a punch jug – and when I cleaned it, it came up very well. I was surprised to find it was a trophy for the Visitors’ Cup at the 1889 Dublin Metropolitan Regatta. The reverse of the jug shows that it was won by the Pembroke Rowing Club team of: 

Martin (Bow), Wright 2, Kinahan 3, Andrews 4, Atkinson 5, Thompson 6, Elliot 7, MacNamara (Stk). 

Do you know anything about this competition? I imagine it may have been Arthur Macdonald Andrews, my great-grandfather’s trophy. If it was, he would have been 20 years old at that date. I know he was a solicitor and that he may have trained at Trinity College, Dublin but I haven’t checked that. 

In fact, I know little about him as in Edwardian style, having left his wife and gone to Canada in 1905(ish) he was never spoken of or seen again. He died in Toronto in 1920. 

I cannot find a Pembroke Rowing Club on the internet, unless it is Pembroke College, Oxford University, but that would need some researching. 

Thanks very much for reading this. Any help would be very much appreciated. 

I was happy to be able to help Simon and was able to send him the following information:

Dublin Metropolitan Regatta 1889 – Visitors’ Challenge Cup

1869 – First Regatta held at Ringsend, Dublin.

1889 – 21st Regatta held on 5th & 6th July at Ringsend.

The Visitors’ was won by Pembroke Rowing Club who along with all the other Dublin rowing clubs was based in Ringsend, near where the river Dodder meets the river Liffey.

The event in 1889 was described as follows:

The Visitors’ Challenge Cup, value £40, with Presentation Prizes, value £25, to the winning Crew and Coxswain. For Eight-oared Boats, to be rowed in Tub Outriggers by gentlemen who have never won a race unrestricted as to class of boat, at a public regatta.

No Gentleman can enter for this race and for the ‘Pembroke’, nor can any Gentleman compete who has won it twice.”

The Pembroke was the premier Challenge Cup of the regatta and would be generally known as the Senior Eights. The Visitors’ was the second most prestigious eights event and would generally be known at the Junior (now Intermediate) Eights. It later became the Maiden (now Novice) Eights.

The Dublin Metropolitan Regatta was held on the tidal waters of the river Liffey and at least until 1898 it was the premier regatta in Ireland. A rival regatta, Trinity Regatta, was started in 1898 by Dublin University Boat Club at their new home at Islandbridge and Dublin Metropolitan Regatta would eventually be held there before moving to its current home in Blessington, County Wicklow.

Dublin Metropolitan Regatta trophies: Civic Challenge Cup (L) and Visitors’ Challenge Cup (R).
Dublin Metropolitan Regatta trophies: Civic Challenge Cup (L) and Visitors’ Challenge Cup (R).

According to R. M. Peter in his book Dublin Metropolitan Regattas 1869 – 1892, the 1889 winning crew was:

D. Martin (10st. 7lbs.)
E. Wright (11st. 0lbs.)
G.S.E. Kinahan (11st. 5lbs.)
A.M. Andrews (11st. 7lbs.)
C.E. Atkinson (11st. 11lbs.)
R.E. Jackson (12st. 1lbs.)
J.F. Ffolliott (11st. 10lbs.)
J.A. MacNamara (Stk. 10st. 3lbs.)
J.H. Manning (Cox 9st. 6lbs.)

This does not agree with the engraving on Simon’s trophy (seats six and seven being different). I can’t think why the coxswain is not named on the trophy; the only reason I can think of why the book differs from the trophy is that Peter took the names from a printed programme (printed in advance) but a different crew actually raced.

I was quite lucky to find this information because although Peter’s book lists all the winning clubs for each year from 1869 to 1892, only the names of winning crews for the five years from 1888 to 1892 are given.

The crowded boat houses fronting on to the River Dodder, Ringsend, Dublin – Home of Pembroke R.C.
The crowded boat houses fronting on to the River Dodder, Ringsend, Dublin – Home of Pembroke R.C.

Pembroke Rowing Club

Pembroke Rowing Club was formed in 1870, surviving until 1908. They had no known connection with an earlier rowing club, ‘The Pembroke Club’, which amalgamated with the ‘University Rowing Club’ to form ‘Dublin University Rowing Club’ who themselves would later (1898) amalgamate with ‘Dublin University Boat Club’.

That said, Pembroke R.C. did have a close relationship with Dublin University R.C. and on Pembroke‘s demise, the balance of their funds which amounted to £20, was given to them and they used it to purchase a trophy for their Trial Eights. That trophy is now used at the Trial Eights Supper for the ‘Pembroke Punch’ and the old club is still toasted with affection each year.

It was not unheard of for people from Dublin University R.C. to row with other clubs and even for people attending Dublin University (Trinity College, Dublin) not to be allowed to join the ‘Rowing Club’. In addition, up to 30 non-university men were eligible for membership and this situation eventually led to the formation of a second rowing club for the students of the University of Dublin.

One of the letters of resignation from Dublin University R.C. which led to the formation of Dublin University Boat Club in 1867.
One of the letters of resignation from Dublin University R.C. which led to the formation of Dublin University Boat Club in 1867.

The trigger for this split was that a Catholic was ‘Black-Balled’ when they tried to join the University Rowing Club and Mr. Robert Bell and others resigned and formed a rival boat club. The two clubs amalgamated in 1898 and therefore, for 31 years, there were two clubs representing the same college (Trinity) and both won at Henley during this period.

The name Pembroke is common around Dublin being used in the names of areas of the city, pubs, hotels, etc. It is all to do with the Norman Invasion, Strongbow and The Earl of Pembroke. That is an interesting story and freely available on the internet. It is however, not quite as interesting as finding an old rowing trophy belonging to your great-grandfather.

In January 2015, Simon kindly sent some photos of his great-grandfathers ‘pot’ and the following additional information:

It’s nearly three years since I said to you […] that I would send photos of the silver plate trophy I have and which we corresponded about. Now that I have retired as a GP, I have time to crunch through the list of postponed jobs and here are the photos. It was absolutely black but as you can see, cleaning it properly was worth it. It stands just over 10 inches tall. 

My great-grandfather, Arthur Andrews, rowed at No. 4 and was studying Law at Trinity College, Dublin at the time. His home was in Comber, Co. Down where his family were linen weavers – in fact he was first cousin of Thomas Andrews, one of the design team of the ‘Titanic’, another boating link but one I am more careful about mentioning!  

I am sorry it took so long to get round to sending pictures as you requested.  

Pic 2
Photo: Simon Andrews
Pic 3
Photo: Simon Andrews

 

Thomas Andrews in his cricket whites. Photo: The Ulster Cricketer.
Thomas Andrews in his cricket whites. Photo: The Ulster Cricketer.

Thomas Andrews’ great sporting love was cricket but he did have a couple of tentative rowing connections. As part of the design team of RMS Titanic he can take some of the credit for the gymnasium on board the Belfast-built luxury liner that included early rowing machines and which you can see in a previous HTBS post about collecting that I called A Jolly Way to Keep Sane!

Titanic’s gymnasium on the Boat Deck, which was equipped with the latest exercise machines.
Titanic’s gymnasium on the Boat Deck, which was equipped with the latest exercise machines.

The above illustration, taken from The Shipbuilder souvenir issue Titanic and Olympic shows the gymnasium that was available for passengers on the Titanic. The facilities were described as:

“The gymnasium is situated on the boat deck, immediately abaft the forward grand entrance, and is provided with all the latest appliances. It is 44ft long, by 18ft wide, by 9ft 6in high, and is lighted by eight windows of exceptional size. Here passengers can indulge in the action of horse-riding, cycling, boat-rowing, etc, and obtain beneficial exercise, besides endless amusement.”

Andrews’ uncle William Pirrie was chairman of Harland and Wolff, builders of the Titanic and a rowing man through and through. In 1896, whilst he was the Lord Mayor of Belfast, he presented the Pirrie Cup to the committee of Belfast Regatta for competition for second senior fours. He was president of both Belfast Boat Club (1896 and 1897) and Belfast Commercial Boat Club (1899 to 1909).

Serendipity Strikes Again

I was pleased to receive the photographs from Simon and even more pleased to find my own piece of Pembroke R.C. memorabilia for sale a few months later. It came in the form of an embossed crest of the club, one of nine crests with Dublin connections stuck on an album page.

Embossed Crests - blue Embossed Crests - red
Embossed Crests of Pembroke Rowing Club (1870-1908) and Dublin Metropolitan Regatta (1869-).

Crested stationery has been around since the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840. Crests were variously embossed on letterheads, notepaper or envelope flaps and collecting them developed alongside stamp collecting. Around 1862, albums were produced to house collections of these crests, which were cut out and stuck into spaces on elaborately decorated pages.

As the hobby grew, large numbers of sets were produced, including crests of army regiments, arms of schools, universities and city companies. These added to the crests gracing the private stationery of gentlemen’s clubs, hotels and local authorities.

The hobby appears to have died out around the time of the First World War but nice examples of embossed crests can still be found – take a closer look at your next letter from Henley Royal Regatta HQ.

Nine Dublin Crests: Duke of Leinster, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Pembroke Rowing Club. Dublin Metropolitan Regatta, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dublin University Bi (?) Club. Trinity College Dublin, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Commissioners of Irish Lights (Dublin Office).
Nine Dublin Crests:
Duke of Leinster, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Pembroke Rowing Club.
Dublin Metropolitan Regatta, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dublin University Bi (?) Club.
Trinity College Dublin, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Commissioners of Irish Lights (Dublin Office).

Finally, a quote about collecting from José Saramago:

There are people […] everywhere, who fill their time, or what they believe to be their spare time, by collecting […] and they probably do so out of something that we might call metaphysical angst, perhaps because they cannot bear the idea of chaos being the one ruler of the universe, which is why, using their limited powers and with no divine help, they attempt to impose some order on the world, and for a short while they manage it, but only as long as they are there to defend their collection, because when the day comes when it must be dispersed, and that day always comes, either with their death or when the collector grows weary, everything goes back to its beginnings, everything returns to chaos.

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