Jumbo Edwards – “Water’s Gleaming Gold”

Hugh Robert Arthur Edwards – Jumbo

4 August 2021

By Göran R Buckhorn

Next year, Gavin Jamieson’s biography about Jumbo Edwards, Water’s Gleaming Gold, will be published. The other day, Gavin began a so-called crowdfunding for the book, and went on Dan Snow’s HistoryHit podcast to talk about Jumbo. Göran Buckhorn has the details.

As you loyal readers of HTBS will know by now, we have our special rowing heroes who reappear with certain intervals. One of them, I dare say, was a real “hero” not only in a boat, but also in real life as an RAF pilot during World War II – Hugh Robert Arthur Edwards, or as rowing buffs know him, Jumbo Edwards. He was an Olympic gold medallist (two gold medals on the same day!), British Empire Games and Henley Royal Regatta winner, Oxford Blue and Oxford winning coach and a pilot.

In February 2020, HTBS was happy to publish a four-part article about Jumbo as an oarsman and RAF pilot. The article was penned by Gavin Jamieson, whose wife Melissa is a granddaughter of Jumbo. Gavin has collected material and done research for a book about Jumbo’s life and has access to the extensive Edwards family’s archives. Gavin has kindly also written other articles about his wife’s grandfather for HTBS. Read them here and here.

Gavin reported the other day to HTBS that he now has a title for the Jumbo biography. The book will be launched summer next year and the title is Water’s Gleaming Gold.

You who know your rowing poetry would recognise “water’s gleaming gold” from James Lister “Cuthy” Cuthbertson’s “A Racing Eight”:

A racing eight of perfect mould,
True to the builder’s law,
That takes the water’s gleaming gold
Without a single flaw.

Gavin talked to historian and broadcaster Dan Snow – who twice rowed for Oxford in the Boat Race, in 2000 and 2001 – on his podcast HistoryHit about his research for the book on Jumbo.

“As an Oxford rower and past president of OUBC, Dan has always been fascinated by the stories about Jumbo and his years coaching. Dan invited me as a guest on his HistoryHit podcast and we had an opportunity to talk about Jumbo’s collapse in the Boat Race of 1926 and Jumbo’s exploits in the RAF during the Second World War,” Gavin told HTBS. “Talking about the two gold medals that Jumbo won for Great Britain at Los Angeles in 1932 were of particular relevance as the Tokyo rowing regatta has just finished – with a distinct lack of gold medals for Team GB!”

Gavin and Dan Snow’s 20-minute conversation, “Britain’s Forgotten Olympic Heroes”, was released yesterday and you can listen to it here (their talk starts at 16:28).

Gavin has started a crowdfunding campaign for his Water’s Gleaming Gold. You can get more information about Jumbo Edwards, Gavin’s research and his book – and sign up for a copy of Water’s Gleaming Gold here. (There are different levels of pledge.)

Following is a short excerpt from Wales at the Olympics (courtesy of the BBC) with an interview with Jumbo Edwards’s youngest son, David Edwards, Gavin Jamieson’s father-in-law:

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