Hadaway Harry returns to South Shields, telling story of legendary Tyneside rower

The tale of a legendary Tyneside oarsman is returning to its South Shields roots after three separate tours which included sell-out performances in London and Newcastle's Theatre Royal

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:16 pm

Hadaway Harry, which was penned by South Shields playwright Ed Waugh and stars Jamie Brown, premiered at South Shields boathouse in 2015 and had garnered accolades en route with Jamie winning Best Actor for his role as the innovation Harry Clasper, a former miner turned boat inventor and rower who spent his formative years in Jarrow.

In the mid 1800s rowing was more popular than football is today. Rowers could win up to £300 per race, which is the equivalent of approximately £36,000 today.

Von Fox Promotions, also based in South Shields, have produced Hadaway Harry for the present tour that has seen sell-out performances at the Northern Stage in Newcastle and near-capacity crowds at Alnwick Playhouse and The Exchange in North Shields.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Jamie Brown as Hadaway Harry.

Richard Flood of Von Fox Promotions said: "The response has been incredible with standing ovations and prolonged applause. We recorded people coming out of the North Shields performance and the most popular words to describe the show were "incredible", "brilliant" and "fantastic".

"Harry actually invented the thin boats we see in the Olympics and the Oxbridge boat race. He led his brothers to victory on the Thames in London in 1845 to secure the first world championship title for the Tynesmen.

"It was a fantastic occasion. Even Charles Dickens was a big fan of the Geordie teams and wrote about the stylish Tyne rowers. Harry went on to lead teams to win seven world titles and even trained a world champion in Walker-lad Robert Chambers."

The Geordie Anthem The Blaydon Races was first performed by Geordie Ridley at Harry's testimonial in 1862 at Balmbra's Music Hall in Newcastle, and such was Harry's rarefied status more that 130,000 people lined the route of his funeral cortege to pay their last respects - at a time when the total population of Newcastle was only around 118,000.

Jamie Brown as Hadaway Harry.

Richard said the play told an emotional story of personal tragedy and triumph over adversity which looks back on an often overlooked piece of history.

"Hadaway Harry is very emotional. Like every true champion Harry had to overcome huge setbacks, including the death of his brother, a fellow team member,” he said.

"Audiences go on an emotional roller coaster throughout the show which recaptures an important part of Geordie history that has largely been forgotten."

Hadaway Harry was the first of Ed Waugh's trilogy of one-person plays that also include Carrying David, which has toured Northern Ireland and London, and Wor Bella which premiered in March 2022.

Jamie Brown as Hadaway Harry.

The trio of works each focus on a sporting legend from the North East, and Ed’s work is always richly marinated in the culture and heritage of the region.

Hadaway Harry will be performed at Hexham Queen's Hall Arts Centre on Friday (June 17) and at Westovian Theatre, South Shields, on Sunday (June 19) at 3pm and 7pm. For ticket information visit: www.hadawayharry.co.uk

Jamie Brown as Hadaway Harry.