1900-1904 (Wyfold win)

From Minutes of Committee Meeting 1st May, 1901:

“The Treasurer reported that a banking account had been opened at the National Provincial Bank.”

From Minutes of Committee Meeting, 30th May, 1902:

“The Evesham Regatta was held on Whit Monday, May 19th, 1902, and the club entered for the hvon Plate a Maiden Crew with R. S. Goode as stroke, S. H. Johnson 3, W. R. Fletcher 2, G. Towers bow, coxed by Dawson Butler. This crew not only maintained the reputation of the club but raised it by gloriously defeating the Kingston, Hull, crew by a spirited and plucky sprint after a very trying race on a disadvantageous course. The press unanimously reported this to be the race of the day.

The clubs in the various heats were as follows:

  • 1st heat Nottingham Rowing Club
  • 2nd heat Warwick Boat Club
  • 3rd and final Kingston, Hull Rowing Club”

From the Birmingham Daily Mail, July 1902:

“Nottingham Rowing Club Regatta Success of Birmingham Oarsmen” …an interesting struggle was witnessed for the Victoria Gold Vase, the most valuable rowing trophy in the country. In this a huge surprise was caused, when Birmingham defeated Burton, who a few days ago won the Wyfolds at Henley.

  • 1st heat bt Nottingham Rowing Club easily
  • 2nd heat bt Burton Rowing Club 1¾ lengths
  • Final bt. Nottingham Britannia1¼ lengths

Accounts for Year 1902/03:

Expenditure included “Hages of Waterman – £8.7.1.”

From Minutes of Committee Meeting, 19th August, 1903:

“The question of sending a crew to compete at Henley next year was again discussed at some length and it was decided that it was to be done if the members of the crew could arrange for the practices necessary at Henley.”

From Minutes of Committee Meeting, 11th November, 1903:

“Mr. Frame reported that he had received estimates from Messrs. Sims, Rough and Clasper for a coxwainless light four oar for use at Henley and he was instructed by the committee to accept the tender of Mr. Sims at £30.0.0 and that oars etc. should be ordered at the same time.

(Note: ‘Sidney Johnson’ built by Janousek last year cost £5,700).

From the Birmingham Daily Mail, November 1903:

“Encouraged by the run of successes achieved by their four-oared crew, the Committee of the Birmingham Rowing Club has determined to enter it for the Wyfold Challenge Cup at Henley Regatta next season. During the past two years the crew has proved practically invincible in the Midlands, and Last season carried off all the principal trophies, including the Boddington Challenge Vase at Stourport, the Bass Challenge Vase at Burton, the Victoria Gold Challenge Vase at Nottingham, and the West of England Challenge Vase at Hereford. In the latter event the crew was opposed by a team composed of two Light Blues and two members of the Leander Rowing Club. It is the first time a Birmingham crew has competed at Henley, but the fact that two seasons ago the Birmingham crew defeated Burton after the latter had carried off the Wyfold trophy encourages the Committee in the belief that if they do not succeed in capturing the prize at the first venture the crew will, at any rate, acquit itself in such a manner as to command the respect of its opponents.”

“The Birmingham crew will go to Henley for a fortnight prior to the regatta for practice and training on the course, the previous training being engaged in at Worcester or Stourport.”

Extract from the Secretary’s Report 1903/04:

“It is interesting to note that out of 32 heats rowed, the combined crews have won 26.”

From the Birmingham Daily Mail, 23rd June, 1904:

“Preparing for Henley – Birmingham Rowing Club IV”

“In sport, as in other pursuits, business or pleasure, Birmingham is thoroughly cosmopolitan. This season local athletes have thrown down the gauntlet to the cream of Great Britain, and, as announced some time ago in these columns, the Birmingham Rowing Club has entered for the Wyfold coxwainless IV at Henley, where the local quartet will have to meet the pick of London and T eander, which is another way of saying that – they will be pitted against the best amateur oarsmen to be found. When it is remembered that Birmingham does not possess a river, and that the largest piece of water available gives less than a ½ mile course, our local rowing club’s challenge would seem to savour of “vaulting ambition”, but the club executive has sound reasons for hoping that success will attend their efforts on the classic Henley course. Last season their four met with uniform success wherever they competed, and the fact that amongst the vanquished was the crew that won at Henley fired their ambition. After about 6 weeks hard and conscientious training, the crew journey on Saturday to Reading, where on the livelier Thames water, under the coaching of either Mr Lehmann or Mr Goldie, (two of the best rowing experts in England) their preparation will be completed.

To practice rowing anywhere but on a river is a pastime which calls for a great amount of self denial and enthusiasm; the latter attribute members of the 3irmingham Rowing Club must possess to an outstanding degree, for, to say the least, rowing round the reservoir must soon become monotonous. There are about 50 other members of the BRC, yet out of this small band a pair yesterday won the 1st prize at Hereford, a junior IV journeyed to that cathedral city last night to compete today, whilst on the reservoir last evening there were 3 IVs and a sculler – a fair indication that each active member is a worker. It is strange, but true, that of the large number of Varsity men resident in this city, hardly any takes interest in aquatics; most of the BRC members are old public school boys but there is one exception and that is Mr AB Blakemore, an old Pembroke (Oxforl) man, who earned distinction as a ‘wet bob’ at college, and who still retains his enthusiasm for the pastime. He it is who has filled the responsible position of coach to the IV which is to co battle under the blue and white banner; to see this gentleman coaching from a cycle on our reservoir banks is to witness a remarkable acrobatic feat. Now an order “Finish your stroke No. 2” then a sudden sprint round a clump of trees to get alongside the crew, all the time keenly watching for defects, whilst dodging a multitude of scorching cyclists, discloses ‘grit’ of no mean order. “Well done, well rowed Boys” shows that coach is quite satisfied with his crew’s form, and this was Mr. Blakemore’s verdict last night, as the four finished a brilliant piece of work across the reservoir. The crew is constituted as follows:

BowSE Alldridge 10st. 131b.
2JW Frame 12st. 71b.
3SH Johnson 12st. 91b.
StrokeFC Glover 12st. 31b.

Mr. Johnson is a well known member of the Handsworth Rugby team, Mr. Frame plays ‘rugger’ for Moseley, whilst three of the crew belong to Birmingham Athletic Club.”

“Birmingham will be interested in Henley’s regatta this year as it has never been before; if our representatives win the Wyfolds the traditions of rowing will receive as rude a shock as British Golf received when the American, Travis wrested the golfing championship from this tight little island. For a city without a river to win a classic race et Henley would indeed cause a sensation; but this is what the four young men who sport the blue and white are giving up their summer holidays to attempt.”

From the Birmingham Daily Mail, 2nd July, 1904:

“The following is the result of the draw this afternoon, the heats being rowed on Tuesday:

  • London vs Royal Chester
  • Kingston vs Thames
  • Magdalene vs Birmingham
  • Caius bye

From the Birmingham Daily Mail, 8th July, 1904:

“Birmingham’s Henley Victory – A Historic Struggle Spoilt”

“The only discordant note “in a brilliant history making Henley” is the verdict in the Wyfold Challenge final which was conceded to Birmingham Rowing Club, and to the credit of our representatives, be it said that they were absolutely sinless. The history of the titanic struggle is soon told. Going off to a perfectly even start both crews kept well together, but gradually Birmingham’s powerful stroke took the provincial boat forward, but whilst Alldridge steered a perfect course, the London bow began to hug his opponent. A series of desperate spurts ensued neither having any advantage, but Birmingham was never given its proper share of the water. For over ½ mile London was out of its water. 400 yards from home, Glover called on his men for a final spurt; the Birmingham boat was going much the faster when a series of bumps occurred, London being right out of its water. Never being allowed to go to the front, the Birmingham craft passed the post locked with London. As soon as the crews passed the winning post a shout came through the official megaphone on the umpire boat “Birmingham, the race is yours. I disqualify London for fouling.” Thus, without appeal, the race was given to Birmingham. Mr Glover, spoken to this morning, said he was sorry it was such an unsatisfactory finish, for he believed his crew would have won had they had room. As a matter of fact, the provincials, responding gamely to a call for a last spurt, were rapidly gaining an advantage, when London fouled them. The Wyfold Challenge is a splendid silver cup, held for one year by the winning crew, whilst gold medallions are presented to the four. It must not be forgotten that London Rowing Club, next to Leander, is the most powerful aquatic organisation in the world and in the vanquished four yesterday was Mr A Hamilton Cloutte, who was defeated by only 1 length and ¼ in record time by the Canadian, Scholes, for the aquatic blue ribbon, The Diamond Sculls.”

From the Birmingham Daily Mail 11th July, 1904:

“The Birmingham Rowing Club is holding its club 4 oar and pair oar races at Edgbaston Reservoir this evening and some keen racing may be expected The Wyfold Challenge Cup won by the Senior crew at Henley will be exhibited on the terrace. In addition, there will be a water carnival and venetian fete.”

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