“Hadaway Harry” is Coming to Putney

Harry Clasper will visit Putney again, at least as a play. Three performances will be held at London Rowing Club in February.

16 January 2017

The play Hadaway Harry, which will be performed at the 1,200-seat Theatre Royal in Newcastle on Friday 24 February and Saturday 25 February, will have an out-of-town-run at the prestigious London Rowing Club on the banks of the Thames in Putney on Friday 17 February and Saturday 18 February.

Jamie Brown as Harry Clasper.

Hadaway Harry, playwright Ed Waugh’s hit play about the professional oarsman Harry ‘Hadaway’ Clasper of Tyneside, directed by Russell Floyd, has been praised on these pages earlier. In a 2015 review of the play, Chris Dodd wrote about Jamie Brown, who is Clasper on stage:

Jamie Brown is Harry in Ed Waugh’s roisterous drama. He is a solo tour-de-force, bringing the rawness of the working class life in Newcastle and the relentless training round the clock to life. When it comes to racing the London Championship Course of 4 1/4 miles from Putney to Mortlake, he has you on the edge of your seat while attached to an oar by your fingernails for every stroke.

Waugh, whose shows have been performed nationally and internationally, explained: ‘Rowing was the sport of the working class prior to football. Every major river had its champion so there was huge interest in matches because civic pride was at stake. When Harry led his team of brothers to Putney in 1845 to win the World Championship for the first time it caused a sensation nationally.’

Waugh continued: ‘Even Charles Dickens wrote about the wonderful spectacle of the Geordies versus the Thamesmen. After 1845, Harry went on to dominate national rowing for the next 25 years and when he died in 1870, aged 58, more than 130,000 people crammed the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead to pay tribute.’

Harry Clasper was a regular visitor to Putney. He often lodged in The Feathers pub at the mouth of the River Wandle when preparing for races. Harry Clasper’s son, John Hawks Clasper, himself a successful oarsman, went on to live in Putney, at Lower Richmond Road and Stainbridge Road, both within a few hundred yards of the London Rowing Club.

The Oxford men’s coach, Sean Bowden, at his base for the week, a building originally constructed for the great boat builder, John Hawkes Clasper.
The Oxford men’s coach Sean Bowden at Westminster Boat Club, a building originally constructed for the boat builder John Hawkes Clasper. Photo: Tim Koch.

John, who also lived in and ran The Feathers pub, was a master boat builder. His workshop, on the banks of the Thames in Putney, is now the Westminster School boathouse, which still bears his name, JH Clasper.

Here is a promotional trailer for Hadaway Harry at London Rowing Club:

Hadaway Harry will be performed at London Rowing Club, Putney (SW15 1LB) on Friday 17 February and Saturday 18 February. The show starts at 7.30 p.m. on both evenings with a matinee at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets, limited to 80 per show, cost only £16 from (0191) 424 7788. For further details please visit: www.hadawayharry.co.uk

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