Tuesday July 29th 1845 was marked by an event which I feel sure will be remembered, after what passed last year, with sincere pleasure by every Westminster as long as the School shall exist. I mean the Boat Race between Eton & Westminster which took place on that day & terminated in favour of the latter by 65 seconds. The following account may perhaps be admissible here.
At 111/2 A.M the “Echo” Steamer left Chandler’s Pier filled with the friends of either Crew & reached its destination Barker’s Rails nr Kew Bridge at 11/2 P.M or rather more, from which place we were to start & after a little waiting the Etonian Crew also arrived: Burton Sr then tossed up with Luttrell Sr (the captain of the Eton Boats) for choice of stations which Westr. won & took the Surrey side of the River. Mr. Selwyn an old Etonian kindly officiated as umpire: & on the word “off” being given we started in such an uneven manner that the Etonians led by more than a length before we were steady. But in ¼ of a mile we were oar & oar; in ½ a mile clean ahead; & continuing, at most without an effort, to draw ahead lost sight of them round the turn before Hammersmith Bridge. We then rowed easily down the Hammersmith Reach continually gaining ground; spurted into Putney passing the Leander & or own Watermen’s Eights; & went under the Bridge amidst the warmest cheering ahead by more than a length of any Boat that rowed the distance.
The course was nearly 5 miles; the time 27 ¼ (which we could have lessened) & we were victorious by 65 seconds or something like 40 or 50 Boat’s lengths. Our crews were
For further particulars see Water Ledger. I may as well here remark that W.G. Green who was our Head of the Water as I had not time to attend to it was very unfavourably and it is generally thought unfairly rejected from the Racing Crew & his place supplied by Williams who if he was stronger was certainly deficient in style. Our training was strict & our condition extremely good this year, we had continued to improve ourselves for six weeks & before we actually received a Challenge.
Dr Williamson who behaved extremely well throughout, & was extremely generous towards us as far as he was concerned followed the Race this year together with many other Old Westminsters on Horseback, by the Towing Path & returned I am happy to say extraordinarily satisfied with the result of our efforts.
Thus ended the most complete victory of the Championship of the Universe as far as regards rowing in Schools that was ever obtained by our crew over another. And I think I may, from personal experience, add, one of the least distressing spurts we ever had during the whole course of training. The betting before we started was 5 to 1 having risen from even wagers.
Joseph Preston Prin. Opp.
On August 5th 1844 as a prince was born Williamson generously resolved not to add a week to the Bartholmewtide Holidays; as he knew always had been customary – alleging that there was no reason for such an extension. Surely Eton must laugh at us & yet it no fault of ours (I mean the Westminsters individually) that we fare so badly.
We had hitherto had a week’s holidays extra for the Princesses; therefore there was still more reason for one now a prince was born.
I have enclosed an account of all the proceedings between Eton & Westminster on paper, for amusement & information to my successors. And I hope if anything worth recording or that might be of any use to Sixth TB or QS as a point of reference or authority will be inserted by the Head Town Boy boarder in this ledger; as it may amuse, perhaps profit others; but certainly can do no harm beyond filling the pages of the ledger; which can be at any time replaced by 10 or 20 shillings. I have taken this liberty & wish others also to avail themselves of it; acting upon the reason, I have given above. I have had several opportunities of sincerely regretting that these annuals of Westminster’s proceeding had not been more fully & copiously kept.
J. Preston Aug 4 /44
Concerning the Eton Correspondence this year, & the legacy of a pair of Silver Sculls to be annually rowed for in wager wherein see Water Ledger
J. Preston. O.P.
The race referred to over leaf came off on Aug 1t 1843 in which Westminster was beaten for particulars see Water Ledger
J. Preston Prin. Opp.
A Challenge was sent us this year from Eton, but was refused on account of the coming Election, since it interfered with the studies of the Major Candidates.
March 1 – 1842
A quarrel between the TB & QSS which lasted some time began this day in consequence of Beasley a Bishops’ Boy in the Sixth having licked a Second Election.*
The facts are as follows –
The Captain* having head that this fellow in the 2d Election has been licked, sent to Beasley saying that he wished to speak to him. He went accordingly alone and unarmed, not the least suspecting what the QSS were about to do. When he arrived at College doors the Captain met him & hit him several times with a stick. Most of the QSS were there ready as they said afterwards to set on Beasley if the Captain had not been sufficient of himself with his stick to lick his unarmed enemy whose only offence was wearing a purple gown instead of a black one. But Beasley seeing about 30 to 1* thought it better to refer to Williamson at once & after a great deal of palaver & bother it ended in the Captain sending an apology to the Head of the T.B. Peace was now nominally restored, but the QSS refused to have Beasley in the boat which was to race with Eton which again occasioned a deal of quarrelling & letters were sent to Eton to say that the boat which was preparing to race them was not the Westminster proper boat unless Beasley rowed in it.
Several letters appeared in Bell’s Life upon the subject but as Beasley was taken ill about a week before the reach took place it at once put an end to any doubt concerning his rowing in the boat.
W.G. Andrewes Prin. Opp.
* W.K.R. Bedford, but who stepped in [&] impeded him whilst running after some other Boy.
It was not however Bedford’s fault at all that this disgraceful occurrence came to such a height, but of some other Under Election.
* He had offered to fight anyone of them on the spot, singly, but as in all probability they did consider themselves a match whilst alone, they preferred the unfair and disgraceful way related here.
This year Eton did not send us any challenge to row them. Probably they did not challenge us because there was a great deal of scarlet fever in the school, which must have greatly hindered their rowing. Roberts had just built us a beautiful new boat, suited to our strength. And people who had seen the Etonian crew, allowed that we should have had a very good chance with them.
The eight was then as follows:
Prout Stroke QS
Hallet steerer TB
This year, (1840) The Etonians sent us a challenge to row them from Westminster to Putney. Although the crew was not so good as it was the last time we were prevented from rowing them, yet we wished for the race. Knowing however, by past experience, that it was useless to attempt the race without Williamson’s consent, Richards, our stroke, went off to obtain it. Being however refused, and two of the crew leaving unexpectedly, we were obliged to send an answer to Eton to say that several reasons (which were mentioned) prevented us from rowing them at the time they mentioned, but offering to do so in our holidays. This however, they declined, and the match was therefore broken off.
The eight was then as follows:
Richards QS stroke
Osborn TB Steerer
A challenge from Eton was sent to the Heads of the Water which was at first accepted, and everything determined on, but it was afterwards refused on the plea that we could not form a boat in readiness for the time appointed the match was therefore broken off.
F Byron H.B.