The Early Years

Thanks to Andy for a very interesting insight into the early days of the boat club.

UWBC 1969 (No.1)

This is from a set of 5, taken for a feature on the rowing club in CAMPUS, the weekly UofW newspaper that preceded the Warwick Boar. They are from either 1968 or 69, but I think early 1969 is more likely. I have about 20 editions of Campus in a box somewhere, and might be able to find the article if it's important. The reason I think it is 69 is because when I joined the Boat Club at the Freshers' weekend in October 1967, we didn't have any boats or water, and used to borrow the facilities and boats of Stratford BC, almost opposite the theatre. 

By October 1968 relations were getting a little strained with Stratford (boat damage allegations etc.). The club Captain (Godfrey Bishop, I think) had managed to get funding for a brand new Sims coxless four from the Rootes Memorial Fund, had obtained a second hand Restricted Coxed Four from somewhere (Kingston RC probably), and had worked with the University to obtain a big second hand wooden shed (which I think may have been a contractor's site office, as the white-tile buildings on the main site, Rootes etc. had just been built) Best of all, somebody (Vice chancellor Jack Butterworth ?) had persuaded Smith-Ryland, who was a very big landowner in south Warwickshire, and possibly the Lord Lieutenant of the county, to let us row on the Avon between Warwick and Barford weirs. Jack Butterworth was practically world class when it came to getting money and facilities for his new university. 

So by the winter of 68-69 I think we were rowing at Barford, and this photo is looking downstream from a point about half a mile downstream from what was the Warwick bypass, and which is now probably the M40. 

The boat on the left is the new 4-, with crew members from those who had rowed at school (probably only Sen 3 or 2), and the boat on the right is the novices in the beamy 4+rst. I think the photos were taken either by Neil Wigglesworth (now Lancaster John O'Gaunt RC) or Ray Brown, the pair of them having paddled an old clinker 4+ downriver to get some action shots with a camera. We didn't have any women in the club in the early days, as none of them were daft enough to spend their spare time in an old shed with no loos in the middle of a cabbage field.

UWBC 1969 (No.2)

As previous shot, but looking upstream.

UWBC 1969 (No.3)

The New Boat, heading downstream under the Warwick bypass. Photo taken from the boathouse landing stage, i think. Blades are almost certainly second-hand wooden Suttons or Aylings ex-Kingston RC. They hadn't invented carbon fibre boats and blades at that time. 

Bow John Fawthrop ?
2 Eugene Deed
3 Dave Brown
Str Don Trenear-Thomas 

UWBC 1969 (No.4)

This was taken off the bypass bridge on another occasion I think, but is the same outing as photo No 5. 

It shows the Novice 4, but our immensely patient coach (name forgotten, don't know where he came from, but wasn't at the University as far as I know) has subbed in at 3, probably to demonstrate to the stupid crew how it should be done. So: 

Bow Mark ?? (Canadian, postgrad I think, reading History )
2 Andy Greenwell (Economics)
3 Coach
Str Andy Benson (reading French)
Cox (temporarily, usually a rower) M.Yussif Agha (ex-Karachi, reading Hist/Pol) 

As you can see from the puddles, lots of work, not much cover (or style)

UWBC 1969 (No.5)

See photo 4 for crew list, though Yussif is at 2 and Andy Greenwell is proving he can't row properly at 3 either. The boat is the 4+Rst

Coach is standing up, and our regular and long-suffering cox is holding the rigger. Photo taken looking downstream from a boat in mid-river. The landing stage is outside the boathouse, just downstream of the Warwick Bypass bridge. 
When the summer term ended, it was only halfway through the regatta season, so 4 of us who were based in the London area in the hols borrowed boats and raced as UofW Novice Four. 1969 I think it was. The aim was to have some fun, and raise the profile of the new university's boat club. 

In those days novices all raced in eights or Restricted fours (wide wooden things, but a bit lighter than most (though not all) old-fashioned clinker fours). Sometimes the Regatta provided the boats, so all we had to do was turn up with a set of oars. Even if they didn't, you could borrow a restricted 4 pretty easily, and the point about these boats was that they were all the same, so you weren't at risk of borrowing a boat you couldn't balance. 

So we went to Maidenhead Regatta, and Egham, and I think Henley Town, and I think we did Putney Town and Visitors Regatta too. I took the oars on my Minivan (ie the van version of a ''swinging sixties" mini) as I was the only one with a vehicle and a roofrack. We borrowed a cox from Kingston RC (son of a friend of Godfrey Bishop, I think). 

We got through a few rounds, but didn't win our novice pots, as there were usually between 8 and 16 novice crews entered for Thames regattas in those days, and we weren't really fit or strong enough.

UWBC 1969 (No.6) - Andy Greenwell 2nd from right

So this photo is more to show off the first version of the Warwick Uni kit. The pink patch on the bow man's vest is a faded printed Bear and Ragged Staff, and side-buttoned cotton shorts with double seats, or knitted woollen shorts (Ray Brown, extreme right) were what you wore. Lycra was another 20 years away. 

A part from Ray Brown, crew was Steve Rawles (stoke) and Andy Greenwell, and a bow man whose name I've forgotten, (but it wasn't Yussif). Photo taken at Maidenhead Regatta as a souvenir of a point on the learning curve, probably by my girlfriend Heather Sewell, who was the union Vice President, and one of the people on the infamous High Court Injunction when we occupied the University Registry the following year (1970).

Ask the librarians for a book called 'Warwick University Ltd" by E.P. Thompson (pub. Penguin 1970) if you want to know all about THAT! 

It wasn't all beer and boating in the early years of the university, you know.