25 February 2017
On Thursday, Harry Clasper, the Tyneside rowing hero, was commemorated with a Blue Plaque on the High Level Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne. In front of a large crowd, the plaque was unveiled by Lord Mayor Hazel Stephenson and Harry Clasper’s great-great-nephew, David Clasper.
The plaque reads:
Henry “Harry” Clasper
World champion rower and pioneering
boat builder: the father of modern rowing.
Competed in over 130 races,
many on the Tyne
from High Level Bridge to
Lord Mayor Stephenson was happy to pay tribute to one of the great men of the city. Clasper, she said, ‘went on to become one of the most renowned, if not the most renowned, sportsman in Great Britain. It is a privilege for me to unveil this plaque in honour of Harry. He really was the people’s champion and literally put Tyneside on the map with his rowing prowess.’
She continued: ‘It’s a measure of the man when you consider 130,000 people turned out to pay their last respects to him.’
David Clasper, who have done extensive research about his famous relative, added: ‘There has not been anyone like him before or since. He was a true hero’.
After the unveiling, performer Steven Stobbs sang The Blaydon Races, a song honouring Harry Clasper in 1862 in Balmbra’s Music Hall, with the crowd joining in with the chorus.
In the crowd were several of Harry Clasper’s relatives and playwright Ed Waugh, known on these pages for his stage play about Clasper, Hadaway Harry. He was joined by Jamie Brown, who plays the lead role in the play, and other members of the cast of Hadaway Harry. Later, a reception was held at the Theatre Royal in Grey Street.
One evening performance was held yesterday at the 1,200-seat Theatre Royal, while there will be a matinee at 2.30 p.m. today and an evening performance at 7.30 p.m.
Last weekend, Hadaway Harry was a great success at London Rowing Club, Putney. Read HTBS’s Greg Denieffe review here.