Moving Pictures

The Thames Rowing Club’s 1923 Grand Challenge Cup winners, part of the club’s inter-war ‘Golden Age’. Back row, standing, from left to right: Reggie Bare, Jack Beresford, Jnr., Edward ‘Cherub’ Chandler and Charles Rew. Front row, sitting, from left to right: Kenneth Wilson, Ian Fairbairn, Steve Fairbairn, Herbert Leigh Holman and Arthur ‘Bones’ Long. In front, sitting: cox John ‘Jack’ Godwin. Photo: Thames Rowing Club.

22 June 2018

Tim Koch shouts ‘action’.

The British Film Institute’s BFI Player is a wonderful online resource where latest movie releases and classic and cult films can be viewed by rental or subscription. Also available are thousands of archive films, many of which can be viewed for free.

For HTBS readers, the best of these is an 11-minute film from 1926, part of a series of films by John Betts titled “Sporting Life and What Not to Do but How to Do It”. The first 4min 35secs shows rowing in eights by members of Thames Rowing Club. They do starts followed by ‘steady state’. Some higher rate work filmed from the side shows the short slides and long layback used at the time. Telling slow-motion film follows. A caption then proclaims:

THE SCULLER

A rowing man is not necessarily a Sculler, the two are quite distinct.
The sculler being a born Oarsman – the Rowing man – just happens.

Between 4min 49secs and 8min 30secs, there is film of Jack Beresford, Jnr., in action. In 1926, the 27-year-old Beresford was an Olympic Gold Medalist, five times Henley winner, and seven times Wingfield Sculls Champion. He was to go on to become the greatest British oarsman of the pre-Redgrave age. Typically for the era, he sculls with his knees much further apart than we would now. At one point, he rows with his shirt off (rarely done by British oarsman at the time) showing his physique.

Jack Beresford, Jnr.

From 8min 39secs, we see Ted Phelps. At the time of filming, the 19-year-old, son of the legendary Bossie, was a rising star, having just won the prestigious Newcastle Christmas Boat Handicap from the 16-second mark, the only Londoner to have ever won the event. In 1930, he won the Professional World Sculling Championship and also the Doggett’s Coat and Badge, he successfully defended his world title in 1932, and won the British Championship in 1935. At 9min 31secs, there is a nice shot where he is hit by a wash but, in a true display of watermanship, is totally unfazed by it.

A still from the film showing Ted Phelps in his Kingston Coat and Badge.

At 9min 02secs, we see rare and possibly unique film of an amateur (Beresford) and a professional (Phelps) sculling together. Who do HTBS Types think is the best?

Beresford (far side) and Phelps scull together. Watch the whole film here.

More nice film of Ted Phelps is on YouTube, it is a 1933 production titled, “Sportshots No. 6 – Popular sports and sportsmen under the cine-camera lens – Ted Phelps, World’s Sculling Champion”. YouTube also has a 1989 BBC film about Beresford, “Tales of Gold”.

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