Competitive Women’s Rowing in Britain since 1945

Courtesy of Playing Pasts.

10 march 2017

HTBS editor Göran R Buckhorn writes:

In April last year, HTBS wrote about an important and interesting subject, a fully funded Ph.D. project called ‘Women’s Role in British Competitive Rowing during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century’. This venture was to be in collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames.

Further on this matter, HTBS wrote:

The aim of the project is to address the visible and invisible barriers that have influenced British women’s engagement with competitive rowing since 1945. Research areas to be addressed include the key events in the timeline of women’s involvement in competitive rowing, the individuals involved, and the trajectory of female engagement with the Olympic Games.

Lisa Taylor

The successful candidate for the project is Lisa Taylor, who is now in her first year as a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) Ph.D. student working on competitive women’s rowing since 1945. Lisa joined MMU Cheshire having worked in rowing for several years including two years with British Rowing under a Stewards’ Charitable Trust Scholarship, leading to an MA in Sport Management from London Metropolitan University. Her interest in the sport started as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, where she pursued rowing and an English degree in almost equal measure. She is particularly interested in gender history, sports policy and development, and the narratives in and around women’s sport.

Earlier this year, Lisa published two brilliant articles on women’s rowing on Playing Pasts, a digital magazine on sport and leisure history, which was launched in September 2016. With kind permission from Lisa Taylor and Margaret Roberts, one of the editor of Playing Pasts, HTBS is here linking to the two articles.

“Competitive Women’s Rowing in Britain since 1945: The Shadow of the Nineteenth Century” was published on 16 January 2017. It begins:

‘In recent years, the participation, visibility and success of competitive women’s rowing has increased exponentially. Yet progress with regard to competitive rowing has been uneven, and access to competitive opportunities remains limited and conditional – especially when these opportunities form an important part of the historical identity of the sport in Britain. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, for example, has only involved men’s and women’s crews on the same day, on equal footing, since March 2016. Henley Royal Regatta, one of the most prestigious events in the rowing calendar in Britain and abroad, offers just four women’s events compared to sixteen men’s, and no open women’s event existed until 1993, after a couple of invitational test events in the early 1980s.’

Continue to read Lisa’s first article here.

“Liberté, Egalité, Sororité – Or a Lot of Nonsense about Rowing Shorts?” was published yesterday, on 8 March 2017, and begins:

‘The launch of the first European Rowing Championships for women, held in Amsterdam in 1954, was a milestone in the women’s sport.

‘For female rowers in Britain, this was not to be their first taste of international competition: clubs had occasionally competed in locations from France to Poland and Australia in the 1930s and late 1940s, and at the three International Women’s Regattas which immediately preceded the European championships.’

Continue to read Lisa’s second article here.

Courtesy of Playing Pasts.

After only being around for slightly more than six months, Playing Pasts has managed to publish many interesting articles on the history of sport and leisure. HTBS strongly recommends our readers take a look at the magazine. I am sure you will be as addicted to Playing Pasts as I am.

HTBS asked Playing Pasts joint editor Margaret Roberts to write an introduction of the magazine. Roberts writes:

Playing Pasts is aimed at anyone with an interest in the field of sport and leisure history. The webpage is edited by Professor Dave Day and Research Assistant Margaret Roberts, with online deliver provided by MMU’s Adam Prime, thanks to the support of the Department of Exercise and Sports Science. The magazine is presented as an online publication and the only online magazine dedicated solely to the history of Sport and Leisure.

Aimed at readers from academics to the mildly curious, the magazine presents material related to sport and leisure history in a widely readable and accessible format. Unlike other publications, Playing Pasts is not divided into discreet issues but rather new material is added on a weekly basis, therefore always offering something fresh and new while existing material is archived for easy access.

While many of the weekly ‘featured’ articles are based on rigorous and traditional academic research, the material is presented in an abbreviated and less scholarly style, akin to a blog, and accompanied by numerous illustrations to allow the reader to discover, absorb and engage with a variety of different concepts and research.

There are different sections within the Playing Pasts portal including:

Weekly featured articles
Diary dates
New publications
This week in Sport and Leisure history – round up of both quirky and well-known facts
Where are they now?
Archival Research

New sections will be added as the magazine evolves, we also include an author section containing details of each of our contributors, links to other sport and leisure history sites and a contact page. Playing Pasts also has a dedicated twitter profile (@playing_pasts), which daily publishes an ‘on this day’ fact as well as advertising the featured article each week and many other interesting articles from across the web.

Contributions are welcome from anyone who feels they have something they would like to share about the history of sport and leisure, which is interpreted as widely as possible in this context, whether that be circuses or pantomime, fell walking or climbing, unusual or traditional sports, or anything else you have a passion about. Playing Pasts would also like to hear about forthcoming events and publications as well as any training or educational courses that readers might find interesting. Just send your copy direct to or via the Contact link on the web page and we will do the rest.

Web –
Twitter – @playing_pasts
Email –

HTBS Editor’s note: Of course, from now on you will find a link to Playing Pasts on “Good Rowing Links” on HTBS.

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