An account of St George's Hospital Boat Club during the late 1940s and early 1950s is given by Brian Wright who qualified from St George’s at the end of 1951, and can be read below.

In 1949 a small group of students decided to borrow a clinker four and enter the Junior fours of the United Hospitals Regatta. It is a long time ago and I really do not remember why we entered and I do not think we took it very seriously at first. We were however lucky to have Dr John Wright (Senior Medical Registrar) as a coach. I think we had all rowed at Cambridge or King’s College, London.

The crew was: (From right to left)

John F Moor (Bow)
J Howell Jones
JRP Pegg
Brian Wright (Stroke)
Michael Jepps (Cox)
Dr John Wright (Coach)

I remember nothing of the race except that we won. The win I remember, caused a good deal of interest and the Dean and Dr Hunter were delighted. The Boat Club became official within a matter of days and I was elected Captain with John Moor as Secretary.

There was a second crew, which I had forgotten. I think we had some last minute enthusiasm from novices and entered them to keep them involved. Some of them were crucial later as without them we simply could not have found a crew of eight.

We were most grateful to our coach who was a very busy registrar with lots of children, but spent afternoons cycling along the towpath. Also I should mention our cox who was new to rowing. I do remember that his weight was ten and a half stone while I at stroke was nine and a half stone. He was worth the extra stone.

The enthusiasm of the Dean, Mr MF Nicholls and Dr Alistair Hunter was such that we were offered an eight shortly afterwards. This was built by the best available boat builder on the Thames but I am not able to remember the name. I do remember that the basic cost was £350 which did seem to me a great deal of money. I remember being worried that we would not be able to find a crew to warrant the expense. I remember that when the two officers suggested it be called “The Edward Wilson,” the suggestion was accepted at once by all concerned. This is interesting because I’m quite sure we did not, at that time, know he had rowed at St George’s. The name was even more appropriate than we had realised.

We entered and eight in the Tideway Head of the River in 1950. We started 199 and finished at 189.

Peter Lord was in our crew on at least one occasion. I think he had rowed for the “Goldie Crew” so he was a great asset. I also recall Tony Fox. He was one of the leading scullers in the country at that time. I recall the Dean asking me if it would be a good idea if he came to St George’s! He duly came and did help us in various ways.” 

 

Historical Extracts from the Student Union Newsletter

Below are some extracts taken from the St George's University Newsletter.

Since the United Hospitals Regatta last November the Boat Club has increased steadily in size and enthusiasm. Over twenty members have rowed regularly during the year.

In April we entered and Eight for the Tideway Head of the River race. This was our first appearance and the crew did moderately well, moving up ten places to 189th. After the race a very successful Boat Club Dance was held. An Eight was also entered for the University of London Regatta, but was beaten by one of the London colleges.

We entered a four and a sculler, Smith, for the Walton Regatta. The crew was: Moor, Jones, Burne, Wright and Jepps (cox). The same oarsmen also rowed at Bedford, where our four was narrowly defeated by Norwich B.C.

In July, a St George’s Hospital Regatta was organized and the Westminster Hospital were invited to enter a four, which we succeeded in beating. The Sculls was won by Wright, who defeated Hickling in the final, whilst the Tub Pairs resulted in a popular win for Dr Wright and Jones.

Next month the club is moving to the Thames Boathouse and is at present having an eight built.

In conclusion we would like to thank our officers, Dr Wright and others for all they have done to assist the revival of the Boat Club.
— Vol 36, No 2 (Oct 1950)

The United Hospitals’ Regatta took place in excellent weather on Wednesday November 15th. The club entered three crews, an eight, a four and a pair. In their heat the eight met Middlesex and London Hospitals in the most exciting race of the day. Although the George’s crew were last, they were only three-quarters of a length behind the winners – Middlesex Hospital. The four lost to UCH and St Thomas’. The pair, CL Smith and TF Stoyle, had a very hard heat against PMD Massey and G Fisk, both rowing Blues, of Middlesex, and only lost by one and a half lengths.

A crew was entered for the Junior Division of the Winter Eights, and lost to University College and Battersea.

The club is now established at Thames Boat House with the promise of a rack for the shell eight due to be delivered in February, and the use of a clinker eight in the meantime. The Club is maintaining the membership at the University Boat House from which Fours row regularly.

At the Annual General Meeting held in October last, the President, Mr Nicholls, and the Vice-Presidents, Dr Hunter and Mr Ivor Black, were re-elected. JH Jones was elected Captain and JB Hickling Secretary. JH Jones proposed a vote of thanks to the Officers, and this was carried unanimously. We are also grateful to Dr JT Wright for his continued interest and advice.
— Vol 36, No 3 (Feb 1951)

After a period of rest from our exertions in the Hospitals’ Regatta the VIII got down to some serious training during the latter part of February.

The usual teething troubles and last minute changes because of illness beset us. Nevertheless, we took the water undismayed on a fine Saturday afternoon in the third week in March.

There have been many occasions in the past when the Boat Club have wished to forget a particular row, but I think this is one occasion that all will wish to remember in the future.

Starting 124 the crew never relaxed, kept a good stride, and were never “headed” over the 4 ½ miles, even thought a first class Thames VIII hung on our rudder for the whole course.

What a pleasant surprise it was when the results were finally announced to find that we had moved up 40 places, realised our ambition of getting into double figures, and last but not least gained the Pennant for the second fasted Hospital crew.

With this to spur us on we look forward to a successful Summer season, with pleasant rows and even pleasanter evenings.
— Vol 37, No 3 (Summer 1952)
The Junior Fours Challenge Cup was won by the St George’s 1st IV. In their first heat, the crew were pleased to see coach, with the inevitable homburg, waving from the umpire’s launch. George’s got ahead right from the start and elaborate plans to give a “ten” were unnecessary, the crew coming home with a lead of four lengths.

The second crew drew Westminster and lost by one length. In spite missing the full strength of the side, the crew pressed hard throughout the race.

The final was rowed against Westminster and Middlesex. After a bad start, George’s began to draw ahead, and led by a canvas at Thames Boat House. From there, the crew held their lead, spurred on by encouraging horn signals from coach and cheers of the second crew manning a police launch – to win by half-a-length.

The club is acquiring a set of blades in the New Year.

Plans are afoot to obtain an eight. If these materialize, the drawback of short outings should largely disappear.
— Vol 36, No 1 (Jan 1950)

On Wednesday, March 14th, Lady Trustram Eve, who was accompanied by Sir Malcolm, christened the new shell eight, Edward Wilson, at the Thames Boat House. Dr Edward Wilson, who died with Scott in the Antarctic, rowed for St George’s in 1897.

A crew entered for the Head of the River Race on Saturday, March 17th. Conditions were fairly good for the 4 ½ miles Mortlake to Putney course, and 214 were competing. St George’s finished 139th with a time of 20min 53sec, as compared with finishing position of 188th in 1950.

The crew was as follows: J Moor (bow), L Andrews, A Cole, B Wright, C Smith, H Jones, J Hickling, R Roe (stroke) and J Cooper (cox).
The crew was coached by CJ Buckingham and J Cooper, to whom we are grateful.
— Vol 36, No 4 (Summer 1951)

This season has been an active one, yet dogged by a lack of success which appears to have been our most constant companion over these recent years.

We have a shell boat, with a worthy name, a boat house and a set of oars, but as yet not the right combination of personnel to make the boat really go.

However, in the United Hospitals Regatta, after a training period that took us as far as Molesey and back, we managed to hold on to St Thomas’ (when the werea length up) and even, I think, caused them concern at one point when under the whip of J Cooper, our cox, we began to get up. But the effort was not sustained. We also entered two pairs and a sculler, Tony Fox, who not surprisingly won, and our pairs, not surprisingly, lost.
— Vol 37, No 2 (Spring 1950)

The Summer Season started with high hopes of our keeping the successful Head of the River crew in training for all the Up-River Regattas. We started well in this respect by competing at Richmond and Twickenham, and Walton Regattas where we gained very valuable racing experience, but no success.

At the end of June the inevitable happened when the “engine room” of the VIII departed for an unexpected by irresistible Continental holiday! So as last year we were reduced to a coxed IV. However, the enthusiasm of the crew was so unbounded that strict and determined training was entered into without murmur. The results of this routine were soon evident in the way that the crew were moving their boat. It was therefore with high hopes that they went to Bedford Regatta, where, after two convincing wins in the preliminaries the crew went down gallantly and narrowly in the semi-final in a memorable race in a time which was very fast against Oundle School, who won handsomely in their final. So to the last major open regatta of the year – Henley Town – where at long last victory was ours – cleverly stroked by Alan Cole and brilliantly coxed by Norman Calderon, the crew responded magnificently over a long and arduous course, which tested their stamina to the limit. It was a fitting end to a successful summer season, and we feel proud that after a lapse of over 50 years we have brought a trophy (the Rathcreedan Cup) from an open event to the Hospital.

We now look forward to our own Regatta on September 17th, and to the United Hospitals Regatta on November 12th, when we hope to improve on our efforts of last year.
— Vol 38, No 1 (Autumn 1952)