Rowing expert heads to South Tyneside to give talk on sport

Harry Clasper
Harry Clasper

A world-renowned rowing expert is heading to South Tyneside as part of a region-wide book tour.

Christopher Dodd, who founded the River and Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames, is making the visit as part of the 170th anniversary celebrations of Geordie hero Harry Clasper and his brothers who brought the world championship to the region for the first time.

His new book Bonnie Brave Boat Rowers: The heroes, seers and songsters of the Tyne is the latest in a series of authoritative works that include histories of Henley Regatta, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, London Rowing Club and World Rowing.

Bonnie Brave Boat Rowers is based on a 19th century song written by Tyneside songsmith Joe Wilson. The book examines the different aspects of rowing culture and discusses its impact in England during the 1800s and early 1900s.

Mr Dodd will be at South Shields Library in Prince Georg Square at 1.30pm tomorrow and at Bede’s World, Church Bank, Jarrow at 3.30pm. Both talks are free and open to the public.

Mr Dodd said: “It gives a history of the Newcastle Christmas Handicap and how it contributed to the rowing rivalry between the Tyne and Thames rivers.

“It also tells the story of Tynesiders like the Geordie rowing hero Harry Clasper, Matt Taylor and Bob Bagnall who revolutionized the design and construction of racing shells.”

Harry Clasper and his brothers won the world championship on the Thames in June 1845 and the event caused a sensation throughout the UK. For the next 26 years the rowers of the Tyne were to dominate UK “aquatics”, which was the sport of the working classes before football.

The Blaydon Races was written in 1862 to celebrate Harry Clasper’s rowing, coaching and boat design achievements.