U20 of 2018
Barnes Elms Reach to Mortlake Reach - Trial Eight Races
U19 of 2018
Richmond Lock - Pile Extraction and Installation
U17 of 2018
Mortlake to Barn Elms Reach - River Closures - 2018-19 Head of the River Closures
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 9th November 2018
Remembering those Cygnet members who fought and died
during World War 1 in this, the centenary of Armistice Day,
Click on the image below to see our memorial piece specially written for the occasion.
Cygnet and BBRC also took part in the TRRC Blades of Remembrance at 11.00 am on Sunday morning (11/11) where clubs across the country observed 2 minutes silence.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 30th October 2018
If you were thinking of coming to the Henley Lunch but haven't yet contacted Stuart, please do so by the end of this week. The reservation form can be found here
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 9th October 2018
Click here for a larger version
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 17th September 2018
Huge congratulations to Cygnets Stuart Gibbons (former captain and Henley Lunch organiser) and Charlie Pretzlik (former vice-captain and current RSA) who passed their final exams this weekend and are now fully-fledged British Rowing flag waggers, I mean Umpires. We look forward to the white trousers, stripy blazers and lots pompous shouting on the Tideway next season. Be afraid, be very afraid!
Helena Smith (BBLRC and Stuart's better half) also joined this merry band - a particularly impressive effort given that she and Stuart had a baby a just six weeks ago.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 13th September 2018
G.J.W. (Barney) Frith
1937 – 2018
The past few years have taken a steady toll of those whom many older Cygnets fondly remember as the ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ generation. Named after the TV sitcom of the same name, these aged swans would regularly gather at the boathouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays to engage in some light training followed by a lengthy period of contemplation and reflection in the Cygnet bar. One of their number was Graham ‘Barney’ Frith who died on Tuesday, 4th September 2018, following a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease. He was 81.
Barney Frith joined Cygnet in 1961 and rowed with the likes of Mike Arnold-Gilliat, Derek Bush, Colin Dominy, John Ellis, John Hildrey and Len Huggett to name but a few. Although the sixties were not an era of huge success for Cygnet, Barney nevertheless played his part in securing such coveted trophies as the Twickenham Cup for the third time since the war, in 1962. Derek Bush recalls rowing with him in the club regatta and Len Huggett liked to relate the story of how Barney cost them a race at Kingston Regatta because he spent more time trying to swipe a swan than ‘getting on with the race’.
Blessed with a head for numbers, Barney found his professional niche in the National Audit Office and apparently displayed a keen mathematical interest in gambling. Such attributes would later be turned to good effect playing the financial markets in retirement and picking potential winners for the Last of the Summer Wine horse racing syndicate.
Barney never allowed rowing to interfere with his social life. Contemporary accounts describe him as a ‘young blade’ for whom assignations with the fairer sex always held more attraction than ‘jugging’ it up with his crew mates after an outing. In the fullness of time, Barney met Miss Right – Brenda – and they married in the late-1960s. Rather than send a telegram, his crew mates penned an ‘Ode to A Young Swan’, which lamented the fact that Barney had hung up his blade and traded his carefree days at Cygnet for a life of domestic bliss.
Soon afterwards, the newly-weds moved away and started a family and Barney retired from active rowing. It would be some years before he resurfaced at the boathouse, having escaped the clutches of the National Audit Office, courtesy of an early retirement scheme. However, no sooner had he become a paid-up member of the Last of the Summer Wine set than he fell into the clutches of club chairman Mike Arnold-Gilliat, who dragooned him into the post of club treasurer.
Despite his accounting background, Barney was not a natural treasurer; he agonized over any expenditure, wrote a long committee paper outlining a doom scenario for club finances and concluded that the club should stop buying boats until further notice. It was not a match made in heaven and he and the post of treasurer were soon parted, much to the relief of all concerned. Doom mongering tended to be Barney’s stock-in-trade and he would later emerge as a strident opponent of a proposed merger with BBLRC, condemning it as a financial accident waiting to happen.
Shorn of his official duties, Barney was free to devote himself to managing his share portfolio, honing his skills at bridge – he played a mean hand by all accounts – and entering into the full extra curricula activities of the Last of the Summer Wine set. One high spot he always enjoyed was the annual President’s lunch at Henley Royal Regatta. The Friths had lived in Henley-on-Thames for a good deal of their married life and were well known on the bridge circuit, which continued to draw them back long after they had moved to Gerrards Cross in the early 1980s.
Barney was nothing if not a creature of habit. John Hildrey recalls that on their regular lunch time visits to the William Webb Ellis in Twickenham, Barney always brought a cushion (he suffered from a bad back) and always ordered ham, egg and chips. Many will remember Barney as a heavy smoker, but he rarely imbibed to the same extent as some of his less inhibited compatriots, preferring not to put his driving license at risk. This marked him out as an obvious taxi driver, a task he always performed with dignity and aplomb, decanting the likes of Mike AG and Len Huggett home to their respective front doors at the end of a ‘heavy’ day.
In later life, Barney fretted that most of his closer associates were older than him, presaging a lonely old age. In reality, the Cygnet social safety net was always close at hand and many older members will lament his passing. Barney’s wife, Brenda, predeceased him by some years; he is survived by a married daughter, Helen, to whom the Club sends its sincere condolences.
Barney’s funeral will take place at 11.45am on Tuesday, 25th September. Details are available here.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 7th September 2018
It's with great sadness that we have to report the loss of another of our veteran members, Barney Frith, who passed away on Tuesday. Barney had been suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.
Barney's funeral will take place on Tuesday 25th September at 11.45 at the Amersham Crematorium, Hampton Room. And afterwards at the Bull Hotel in Gerrards Cross.
A longer obituary will follow
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 23rd July 2018
Call to arms! Garden tidy-up
Jacqui Darling does a fabulous job of looking after our beautiful garden all year round but the weeds are growing like crazy and we need our club members to lend a hand to clear them.
On Sunday 5th August there will be a group gardening session to clear as much as we can. Please come down and help, even if it's just for half an hour it will make a difference.
If anyone has equipment we can borrow it would be appreciated - strimmers, loppers, rakes, gloves, secateurs etc.
We also need people to help take the garden waste to the amenity tip; we can use the ute.
Thanks all 😊
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 19th July 2018
21st May 1953–1st July 2018
None of us can ever truly know when our ‘time is up’. For Noel Davison, who died on 1st July 2018, just weeks after his 65th birthday, following a long battle with cancer, that time was far too soon.
Although most of his adult life was spent in London, Noel was a proud Irishman from County Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Educated at Coleraine Inst, a local grammar school for boys, he learned to row on the River Bann, the longest river in NI, before striking out overseas to St Andrew’s University in Fife, Scotland.
Following graduation, he headed south, seeking employment with the Inland Revenue as a District Tax Inspector, and arrived in London in the early 1970s as that rarest of beings: a competent oarsman who had no rowing points – in short, a coach’s dream. As a newcomer to the metropolis, Noel wasted no time in seeking an outlet for his waterman ship skills and Cygnet RC beckoned, along with nearby lodgings at 14 Vernon Road, East Sheen, the legendary home of Mike Arnold-Gilliat, the then captain of Cygnet RC.
Life at Vernon Road was an unstoppable merry-go round of rowing, sleeping and eating with the occasional sojourn to the nearby Hare and Hounds. Noel made some lifelong friends and a taste for Young’s ‘Ordinary’, but the whole experience did little to advance his or other inmates domestic housekeeping skills.
Noel always said that his novice years at Cygnet were some of his happiest afloat. Carefree days spent paddling up and down the Chiswick reach were rewarded with several non-status wins on the River Lea, where one spectator pronounced them to be a ’tasty crew’, and the Royal Naval Dockyards at Portsmouth, before losing their rowing virginity at Curlew.
Higher status wins followed. Noel was one of the anchor men of the crews coached by George Plumtree in 1977-78, which saw the participants ascend from Senior C to Elite over two years, starting with the Senior C Pennant win in the Head of the River in 1977.
Not one to stand on ceremony, Noel nevertheless felt that it was important to introduce his future wife, Eleanor, to his crew mates quite early on in their courtship. And so it was on a cold winter’s evening at the height of disco mania that the happy couple braved the dank surroundings of the Cygnet bar. Needless to say, the bar fell well short of health and safety norms, even by 1970s standards, and the company was not much better. The look on Eleanor’s face said it all. Still, all was not lost and over time she came to love both Noel and the inner sanctum of the Cygnet bar, if not the crew.
Cygnet was Noel’s first port of call, but we cannot claim a monopoly; he also rowed at Molesey Boat Club and, latterly, Tideway Scullers. Molesey provided Noel with the springboard he craved to achieve greater things: regular wins at Elite would follow, coupled with impressive performances at Henley Royal Regatta and National Championships. On a lighter note, in 1979 Noel starred in a TV commercial that featured him stroking an Vlll as it gently slipped below the waves while the cox, Ronnie Corbett, blithely puffed away on a Hamlet Cigar. The commercial can still be viewed today on You Tube.
Noel always appreciated the importance of putting something back into the sport and in late-1983 the opportunity arose to return to Cygnet in the self-styled role of Squad Co-ordinator. The experience he had gained at Molesey proved invaluable in changing the training and racing ethos at Cygnet and laid the foundations for some of the club’s most successful years in 1984-87, not least a coxless lV that he coached virtually singlehandedly from Senior B to Elite in one season.
Family and professional commitments subsequently took priority. Noel bade farewell to the Inland Revenue, joining Arthur Andersen where he obtained a chartered accountancy qualification, before moving on to Ernst and Young in 1994. EY played to Noel’s strengths and he became a much-respected international tax partner working on some of the most prestigious accounts of the day. As a devoted family man, there was never any doubt that Noel and Eleanor made a great team, while he adored son Paul and daughter Julia, encouraging them in their every endeavor; they, in turn, embraced his unwavering work ethic, carving out their own paths as successful young people, determined to maintain the Davison traditions.
All work and no play is never a good recipe for life andthe draw of the Tideway is hard to resist. Noel returned to veteran rowing in the mid-noughties, gracing one or two heads and regattas along the way. His talents as an oarsman were much in demand and he rowed at both Cygnet and Tideway Scullers, before illness curtailed activity afloat. Even so, Noel continued to fulfil his landward duties as Honorary Examiner at Cygnet and Honorary Secretary at the Head of the River Fours until just months before his demise. Indeed, he was arguably one of the few officials who managed to get his head around the new points system – for that alone he will be sorely missed.
Irrespective of which club he rowed for, Noel always brought wisdom, dedication, a certain air of authority and sheer bonhomie to the water. Prior to writing this piece, I asked, Rhodri Walters, a longstanding friend of Noel’s, how he would describe Noel; he replied “much like his rowing style – long in the water, steady on the slide and easy to follow”. Lawrence Williams at TSS recalls: “I remember a pause in one of our earlier more catastrophic outings when he (Noel) was sitting behind me and I filled a gap in conversation by informing him that we now had two professors in the crew. His immediate response was brief and typical - "Good, we need all the intellectual firepower we can get."
Appearances can be deceptive and some will argue that Noel was a man of few words. It is true that he was certainly not one for small talk. However, all those who spent time with him will know that once you scratched the surface, he was always happy to engage in debate on all manner of subjects and often held quite strong views. An economy of words, coupled with his calm demeanour, meant that whenever Noel did hold forth, the assembled company, whoever they were, always sat up and listened.
Rowing was not Noel’s only passion. He also had a great love of literature. Retirement gave him an opportunity to cast off his professional mantle of international taxation and immerse himself in English Literature, obtaining a degree from Oxford University in 2017.
Against his better judgement, Noel also partook of several canal trips organized by Malcolm Burman and his cohorts at Cygnet. Malcolm recounts: “..not sure what he made of those. He seemed to enjoy them, despite the fact that it rained most of the time - but I seem to remember he was very keen on steering, particularly in the tunnels and we had to drag him away from the tiller [for lock-opening duties].”
For many Cygnet members, their last memory of Noel will have been of him sagely presenting his report at the February AGM in his capacity as Honorary Examiner, a post he had held jointly with Malcolm Burman for eighteen years. For the crew of 1977-78, a happier memory of Noel will have been of him sitting in the Cygnet bar reflecting on a lifetime afloat on the occasion of the 40th reunion of the Plumtree Vlll in March 2017. He will be greatly missed.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 2nd July 2018
It is with great sadness that Cygnet RC reports the death of Noel Davison, who died peacefully at home on 1st July following a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
Noel joined Cygnet in the early 1970s, having recently moved to London as an Inland Revenue recruit. Having gone through the motions of winning his novices, Noel's first real encounter with competitive rowing came in 1977-78, when he signed up as a dedicated member of the crew coached by George Plumtree. However, for many of that generation, Noel will be best remembered as 'Squad Coordinator', a role that he stepped up to in 1984, subsequently laying the foundations for some of the most successful years in Cygnet's history afloat.
In later years, Noel was often to be seen rowing in veteran crews at Cygnet and Tideway Scullers. He also retained official roles as Honorary Secretary, Fours Head and Honorary Examiner at Cygnet. Indeed, for many members their last memory of Noel will have been of him sagely presenting his report at the February AGM. For others, a happier memory of Noel will have been of him sitting in the Cygnet bar reflecting on a lifetime afloat on the occasion of the 40th reunion of the Plumtree Vlll in March 2017.
He will be greatly missed.
Our thoughts are with his wife Eleanor and his son and daughter Paul and Julia at this very distressing time.
Noel's funeral will be held at 4pm on Thursday 12th July at Mortlake Crematorium (adjacent to Chiswick Bridge), followed by a reception at the Wetlands Centre in Barnes (near the Red Lion)
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 29th June 2018
Between now and 7th July is a working period for general maintenance at the bungalow
Any member and friend/s may visit, staying overnight if you wish, for free, providing you help with some work! Jobs include: cutting the hedge; cleaning the landing stage; trimming the bank; cleaning windows; brushing cobwebs off woodwork; cleaning out the BBQ, bagging the waste and leaves and taking to tip; tidying the garden; cutting back overhanging trees at the gate; tidying the verandah; etc
The following dates are also available to book
Phone or text Derek Bush, Hon. Bung. Secretary on 07880 548804 or via the contact form
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 11th June 2018
Not content with messing about in fine boats, tub boats or Rhine boats, our LTR guru, sometime coxswain and vice-president Alan Cox has upped the game by having a go in a 'proper' sized rowing boat. Why they put the short bloke at stroke is anybody's guess!
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 31st May 2018
Not to be outdone by Paul Rawkins' excellent "History of Cygnet RC", former captain Nick Bates has been hard at it editing "More Power – the story of Jurgen Grobler".
The book is written by Hugh Matheson & Christopher Dodd and is published on 5th July.
It will be available from Amazon (inevitably) and Waterstones but we recommend keeping it in the rowing family and pre-ordering it from our friends at Rock-the-Boat. (and you can buy the Cygnet History there while you're at it)
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 29th May 2018
Mrs Pat Sly, welcomes all Cygnet and BBLRC members and Friends to join her at Old Blades on Friday of Henley Royal Regatta, which falls on 6th July this year. Further details can be found here
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 22nd May 2018
Well we have to I'm afraid. You should, by now, have received yet another GDPR email, this time from the Secretary, regarding your personal data and how it's used at Cygnet. Please do make the effort to reply.
And in case you feel the need to double-check, it can all be found in the little Privacy link at the bottom left of this page.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 6th April 2018
In the time we are waiting for Spring, and looking ahead of Summer....Who wants one of our glory blue Blazers?
Please drop me a line, if you are interested in purchasing one. I will contact you in a separate email. Also there still are some club ties and cuff links available.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 15th February 2018
Thursday 15th February, 8.00pm
Our very own Paul Rawkins will be giving a Presentation entitled "Postmen Afloat –The Story of Cygnet Rowing Club" at St Mary’s Church, Barnes.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 18th December 2017
The autumn racing season was finished off the the annual Quintin Plum Pudding race on Sunday; 2 crews from Cygnet were entered:
The Chairman's invitational VIII was entered as Masters F, but due to the Chairman himself being taken down by manflu, a younger substitute was called upon in the shape of Edward Broadhurst, technically dropping the crew well into Masters D territory. The crew were timed over the line in 6th place at 9:48, but won first prize of a case of wine after the arcane Quintin handicapping system helped them make up over 2 minutes on the fast finishing Quintin senior 8.
The Cygnet Masters B Novices also suffered a last-minute drop-out, with the club's other Nick (Rae) failing to make it down. Thanks to BBL captain Sian for subbing in to the bow seat at the last minute. The captains' boat finished 11th overall in a time of 10:26 making Sian the fastest BB Lady of the day by a few seconds. The applied handicap dropped the crew to 14th and last place; leaving Cygnet to bookend the adjusted results table.
Special mention to BBL supersub Sam(antha) Gourevitch for helping out when they also suffered a last-minute numbers crisis. A closely fought race with BBL A edging out BBL B by 1 second in a time of 10:33 (although the B crew won on handicap, so everyone's a winner there!)
Full results here
Training as per the plan:
Tim will be down tomorrow (Tuesday) again to teach the new weights programme. Please make an effort to come along if you want to be doing the weights training sessions.
Currently looking a bit thin on the ground for a full suite of outings at the weekend at the moment, so just a clubs 1x time trial on the cards at the moment; provisionally meet at 9am on Saturday to head up to the pink house and race back.
If anyone else does fancy an outing, get the fitclub filled in and I'll review on Thursday.
Keep the training in mind over the festive break, else we'll have to move from fitclub to fatclub in January. Main squad outings will resume on 6th Jan.
The first 8s race will be Quintin Head on Saturday 27th Jan; race starts at 11.30am. Hoping to get a couple of crews out for this, with some training outings in the racing combination beforehand. If you want to race well, please get the fitclub filled in for the whole of the month so that the captaincy can plan crews around people's availability. (I know that I haven't yet set up any sessions for January on there; that will be done by the end of the week)
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 6th November 2017
Any institution that has been around for over a century is unlikely to have escaped the dead hand of warfare; Cygnet Rowing Club is no exception. The outbreak of the Boer War, less than ten years after Cygnet’s foundation, would be the first conflict to claim several members’ lives. However, the First World War was a conflict on an altogether different scale and intensity that threatened the very existence of Cygnet RC, among others. By the time hostilities drew to a close in November 1918, seventy-nine active and honorary members had served with the Armed Forces; eleven of them would never return.
Up until quite recently, we knew nothing of the eleven deceased members beyond their names. Enter Ian Mountain, one of today’s active members, who has devoted considerable time and effort to uncovering these men’s wartime identities. As Ian himself readily acknowledges, this is still very much a work in progress. Nonetheless, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of several notable battles, not least Passchendaele, and we thought this an opportune time to share his findings to date.
With the outbreak of war, most Cygnet volunteers signed up to the Post Office Rifles (POR), the General Post Office’s dedicated regiment. The POR had a long history dating back to the mid-19thC; today, they are best remembered for their role as infantrymen on the Western Front. Many would-be soldiers would have responded to a flier similar to the one shown here which is held in the collection of the British Postal Museum & Archive Blog.
Such was the strength of patriotic fervour sweeping the country that the 1st/8th Battalion, POR rapidly became overwhelmed with recruits and a 2nd Battalion had to be formed in September 1914. The POR served in all the main theatres of conflict on the Western Front from 1915-18, sustaining severe losses at Ypres and Passchendaele.
The 1st/8th Battalion embarked from Southampton on 17th March 1915, moving to the ‘front’ in early May in readiness for the Battle of Festubert, which endured from 15th to 25th of that month. This battle would claim the first Cygnet fatality, one Albert Dunn, a sergeant, aged 38, who died on 25th. His name is listed at the Le Touret Memorial, Festubert.
There would be many false dawns during WW1: to give but one example, a letter from the club secretary to all serving members at the end of 1915 dared to hope that before 1916 was out “Cygnets will have returned to greet the ‘Old Crocks’ (ie: those left behind to run the club)”. It was indeed a false hope. By the end of that year, Cygnet had sustained a further two fatalities in conflict. The first, Ernest Erridge, a 26-year old corporal with ‘A’ Company, died on 8th April in circumstances we have yet to establish. Later in the year, Wilfred Doley, a lance corporal aged 27, expired on 15th September, quite possibly from injuries sustained in a British offensive during the Battle of the Somme.
As the war rumbled on into 1917 and the prospect of any early cessation of hostilities receded, the secretary rarely missed an opportunity to express the hope that there would be an early return of all, and a rebirth of the desire for active sport. Even so, even he found it a struggle to remain unfailingly upbeat in the face of so many wounded men returning from the ‘front’, as an extract from one of his reports reveals:
“It must, unfortunately, be realized how great is the number who are now deprived of the ability to participate in many sports. Some of these could take part in the pleasure side of rowing and …. It is a sport that will be welcomed as one that can be shared with those to whom fate has been less kind.”
Yet the ‘Old Crocks’ refused to concede defeat and the report continues “In arranging our fixtures, we propose to revive the “Up River” trips in which those unable to take part in the vigours of racing could join. So when asked ‘What of the future’ we can surely say ‘It is of the brightest’.”
Regrettably, some of the darkest days were still to come: 1917 claimed seven of the eleven Cygnet lives lost during WW1. The year began badly. Bertie Valentine, serving as a sergeant in The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), was killed on 20th January; Private John Rogers, Royal Marine Light Infantry, died on 17th February; Private A.B.Thaine was killed on 1st March; and Arthur Rixon, Company Sergeant Major in the London Irish Rifles met his death on 7th April.
The POR were at the forefront of the fighting throughout 1917, suffering exponential losses at Ypres and Passchendaele. The Third Battle of Ypres gained especial notoriety because of its focus, in its latter stages, on the village of Passchendaele, which was fought in appalling conditions, even by the standards of WW1. It was here, in what came to be known as the Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26th October to 10th November, that three Cygnet members – Robert Erridge (brother of Ernest), C.D.Gibney and Cecil Toms – met their deaths, seemingly on the same day (30th).
Thanks to Ian’s persistent searches on Ancestry, we are fortunate to have two photographs of Cecil Toms which have come to us through a shared family tree, one showing him pre-war as a GPO employee and the other showing him in uniform.
By comparison with 1917, 1918 was relatively kind to Cygnet, with just one recorded fatality – Lance Sergeant Albert Russell, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) – on 8th May. Nonetheless, as surviving club members reconvened on 18th June 1919 for the first meeting since the war, many must have mourned the fallen eleven.
This year, to mark the sacrifice these men made, Cygnet has made a donation to the Royal British Legion’s Flanders Field of Remembrance, which will be recreated beside the Menin Gate at Ypres. Several Cygnet members’ names are inscribed at this memorial; others appear at Thiepval, Tyne Cot and further afield. Cygnet plans to hold a more formal commemoration at next year’s Henley lunch to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. I should like to close by thanking Ian Mountain again for his tireless research, without which this would have been a much shorter and less informed piece.
Paul Rawkins and Ian Mountain
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 27th September 2017
If anyone fancies this, Paul Rawkins is already book-in.
Hope you’re well and that the rowing season is getting off to a good start!I’m just getting in touch from the River & Rowing Museum to let you and Cygnet Rowing Club know about our exciting Rowing History event here in November.
‘Backsplash: The Rowing History Conference’ is going to take place on 3rd & 4th November and we’re looking forward to welcoming Daniel James Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller ‘The Boys in the Boat’ as our keynote speaker.
Other confirmed speakers include: Andrew Triggs Hodge, triple Olympic gold medallist rower; Mike Spracklen, international rowing coach; Colleen Orsmond, Olympic rower, Rowing Event Manager at Rio 2016 and World Rowing’s Sport Director; Peter Mallory, coach, published author and rowing historian; Jeremy Randall, Leander Club President and former Master of the Company of Watermen; and Lisa Taylor, rowing history PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University and the River & Rowing Museum.
I hope this sound of interest! Further information and booking details can be found on the event webpage: rrm.co.uk/backsplash
Various ticketing options are available including: whole conference packages, single-day or dinner only tickets and tickets for Daniel James Brown’s talk only.
Since this event may well be of interest to others at Cygnet Rowing Club, I’m wondering if you might able to spread the word and let your rowers know about this event?
If so, that would be brilliant! We’ve created an event poster that you can share by email, facebook or even print out and pin onto a club noticeboard: backsplash.link/poster
Anyway, any and all help will be much appreciated!
Look forward to hearing from you, and hope to see you at the conference in November.
Event Organiser, Backsplash
River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, RG9 1BF
Direct Dial: 01491 415609
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 10th September 2017
The Memorial Service for Di is to be held at St Mary’s Henley on Thursday October 26th at 1.00 p.m.
If you do hope to be able to attend can you please let Pippa know pippa.randolph[at]britishrowing.org as she is keeping a list of possible numbers for the family.
|Martin Humphrys JP|
President | Thames Regional Rowing Council
Vice-President | Junior Inter-Regional Regatta
Author: Matt Byrne | Date: 14th August 2017
Cygnet Rowing Club is looking to recruit a head coach for the 2017-18 season.
The head coach will have responsibility for devising the club's training plan to include comprehensive land and water sessions, and coaching weekend outings for the main squad of 24-30 athletes. In collaboration with the club captain, to select crews for races and training outings.
Outing windows are from 7am - 1pm Saturdays and Sundays; the athletes are encouraged to undertake double sessions where possible, and up to 3 weeknight land training sessions.
Currently, the majority of the squad are at novice & intermediate 3 level and over 80% have learned to row at the club. In 2016-17, the Novice "A" 4+ achieved 3 wins after a couple of early losses in finals, and the Novice "B" 4+ made a couple of finals and pushed hard only to lose out at the last. The club also enjoyed a couple of 1x wins and is looking to develop the sculling abilities of the squad members.
Ambitions for the 2017-18 season are to develop the top end of the squad through IM2/IM1 level and to get an 8+ to Henley.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 13th August 2017
Congratulations to our IM3 4+ (a.k.a The Meat Wagon) who bagged their third pot of the summer over 1000m at Peterborough Summer. Henley next year boys?
Robin, Ian, Gigi (cox), Scott, Sam
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 18th July 2017
Not only was a new captaincy elected at the OGM on Tuesday evening but we also unveiled our new 80kg Single scull. So pay attention, there several new names to remember:
Congratulations to Matt Byrne who was elected captain, with Sam Sears taking on the deputy role and Charlie Pretzlik remaining as vice. We wish them well in negotiating the email hell that is the captaincy and for continued success on the water.
Huge thanks of course to the outgoing captain Jez Pugh and his Deputy Nick Rae for all their hard work in the past two years. The club is certainly in pretty good shape thanks to their efforts.
Our new single was also officially named on Tuesday and is called the Golden Oldies. Many members will remember that we previously had a double of that name and older members will even recall the original Golden Oldies themselves - tucked away in Ye White Hart, keeping the barrel ticking-over on a Sunday lunchtime. This name was chosen as a nod to a more recent generation of Cygnet Oldies who have sadly passed away in the last couple of years. It seemed like a fitting way to remember them and we even got one of our current oldies, the venerable Neil Jackson, to take her on her maiden voyage.
Please try not to run her aground before the clocks go back...
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 13th July 2017
Len Huggett's funeral was held on Thursday 13th July at Enfield Crematorium off the Great Cambridge Road. As Messrs du Parcq, Beckett and Rawkins P set off from south west London, a journey entailing two bus rides (32 stops in all) and a tube journey of 19 stops, there was a sense that Len had saved the best for last in true contrarian fashion.
The service was attended by about 25 people including three of Len's last surviving relatives and a respectable number of Cygnet and BBLRC members, among them his longstanding buddies John Ellis, Peter Bailey, Colin Dominy, the Mc Veighs and the Slys. Prudence Sly and Paul Rawkins presented the eulogies, Pru recalling many of the eccentricities that made Len the character he was and Paul embellishing some of the finer points of his rowing career. The minister reflected on how much of a 'Doubting Thomas' (Len's middle name) Len had really been, but none doubted his qualifications for the Last of the Summer Wine set.
A very sociable gathering was held afterwards at the Pied Bull in Enfield, a hostelry that Len had been known to frequent in his youth. A Timothy Tailor house, the Chairman and his cronies had high hopes of a glass or two of Landlord, but sadly it was not to be - the barrel was off!
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 8th July 2017
Another regatta, another pot. This time it was Big Dave French, in only his second singles race since de-novicing, who secured a convincing win by 2 lengths over Furnivall in the IM3 category, .
Elsewhere, a very strong showing from our Novice 4+ who powered through to the final but alas didn't have enough to overcome a very strong Kingston crew.
A similar story for the IM3 4+ who after a commanding win in their heat, narrowly lost to eventual winners Vesta in a fast semi.
Good to see Cygnet crews out there racing and being very competitive. Patience chaps your time will come.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 24th June 2017
You wait ages for some silverware, then back-to-back wins come along. Congratulations to Robin, Ian, Scott Sam and Marj (cox) who followed-up on their BMI win with another at Richmond Regatta. Not only over a longer course but they did it around the outside of the bend [it's the Cygnet way - Ed] against a Putney Town just recently back from Henley qualifiers. Great work boys, keep it up, you're on a roll now.
Also a mention in dispatches for Cris who won through a round in his Novice singles event. It's progress, definitely progress.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 20th June 2017
29th March 1930 – 16th June 2017
Len Huggett, who has died at the age of 87, was one of the paid-up members of the ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ set who gathered at the Boathouse every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, pontificating on the world through an alcoholic haze. Collectively and individually, they were a near perfect replica of the TV series of the same name. While there was never any doubt who ‘Foggy’ was (John Bull), a number of candidates vied for the role of ‘Compo’, not least Len and Mike AG.
Born in 1930, Len Huggett grew up in Stoke Newington and Edmonton amid the urban bomb sites of World War Two and the austerity years that followed. Upon leaving school at sixteen, Len joined the Central Telegraph Office in 1946, part of the Post Office, before doing two years National Service in
Following his ‘demob’ in 1950, Len returned to the Post Office and soon started devoting his leisure hours to Crescent Rowing Club, which was based on the River Lee in East London. Like Cygnet, Crescent was allied to the Post Office and it was here that Len would strike up life-long friendships with the likes of John Ellis and Peter Bailey, both of whom remain Friends of Cygnet.
Given the limited boating facilities on the Lee, Crescent members were often invited to Cygnet to gain experience of rowing in Vllls on the Tidal Thames and to make up crews for the Head season. Crescent also competed regularly in the Civil Service Regatta and was a force to be reckoned with in the 1920s and 30s. Over time, ambitious young Crescent members often defected to Cygnet and Len duly followed suit in the late 1950s. The first photograph we have of a young Len Huggett afloat was taken in 1959 and shows him seated at two in a Cygnet Vlll at Kingston Regatta.
The 1960s were not an auspicious time for Cygnet and regatta victories were relatively few and far between. Nonetheless, the era was not without its high spots. Thus, in 1961 Len stroked a Junior Eight to victory at the Metropolitan Regatta and subsequent years often found him stroking Junior-Senior Vllls at local regattas, some successful, some not. Among the regattas he often used to wax lyrical about were the Welsh Harp and the Serpentine. Like so many of us, Len did his time as club captain, in 1966. His rowing ‘swan song’ came in 1973 when, rowing in a coxed lV with Roy Ellison, Peter Jeffs, Peter Roche and Robert Henry (cox), he won at Vesta International Veterans’ Regatta, beating Barclays Bank and Frankfurt.
Although not a confirmed bachelor as such, despite having several long-term relationships Len never took the plunge and tied the knot. His friends would probably argue that ‘no woman would have him’ and, in truth, he was a contrarian to his core, impossible to pin down to any commitment large or small. Yet, through it all he remained a dedicated member of Cygnet, immensely kind to his friends and wholly unpredictable, often turning up out-of-the-blue at regattas far from home – St Neots was one of his favourites. And, no matter where you were, Len always knew of a hostelry just around the corner or in a far-flung country lane.
A North London boy through and through, Len lived at home in Edmonton with his parents until their demise in the late-1980s. Then, in 1993, on a whim (and allegedly after a late night with Mike Arnold-Gilliat), he ventured down to Henley-on-Thames to visit the Club’s late president, Peter Sly. Sly took Len to see his late mother-in-law’s house in Greys Road, Henley, which had recently gone on the market. Much to Sly’s surprise, Len agreed to buy the house on the spot: it was probably the biggest decision he had ever made in his life.
Len would spend the remaining twenty four years of his life in this house; few people ever saw the interior and he rarely drew back the curtains. Nevertheless, living in Henley actually suited Len quite well. Friends often visited and there was no shortage of agreeable hostelries nearby. He, in turn, was a frequent visitor at ‘Old Blades’, the Sly residence, and would never tire of relating the story of how in 1977 he alerted Peter Sly to an auction of two old workmen’s cottages on the Henley reach that would ultimately be reborn as ‘Old Blades’.
Like so many of his generation, Len Huggett remained fiercely independent, living alone until the very end, despite having suffered several strokes. In reality, of course, the Cygnet safety net was always close at hand, with Pat, Pru and Oscar Sly increasingly alert to Len’s wellbeing in later years.
For many of us, our abiding memory of Len Huggett in his twilight years will have been of him ‘holding court’ on the patio at ‘Old Blades’ on Henley Regatta Friday – he would never commit to going, but he always turned up, contrarian to the last, and invariably pronounced it to be ‘a lovely old day’.
20th June 2017
Please feel free to share your memories of Len using the Comments box, below.
(Len is at 2 in this VIII from Kingston Regatta 1959)
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 12th June 2017
After a long gestation and several near misses, one of our novice crews finally popped their cherry at Barnes & Mortlake Regatta International [sic]. Great to get a win on home waters and congratulations to Robin, Ian, Scott Sam and Gareth (cox).
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 19th May 2017
Dame Di Ellis, who died on 18th May 2017, was a giant in our sport. Instantly recognisable to all in British Rowing, Cygnet always felt that it could claim a special bond with her by virtue of her marriage to John Ellis, who has been a life-long member of Cygnet since the 1950s.
Di and John met at the Civil Service Boathouse when she was rowing for St George's and he for Cygnet. Di subsequently went to on to represent Great Britain before becoming an umpire, an official, team manager and Chairman of British Rowing (then the ARA) in 1989.
Deservedly described as 'The First Lady of British Rowing', Di served on unnumerable committees and organising bodies in her time, finishing her career in 2012 as Executive Chairman of British Rowing after 52 years in the sport.
Di's huge contributioin to the sport was recognised in 2013 when she was named a ‘Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ in the 2013 Birthday Honours List.
The last Cygnet function she attended was in October 2013 when she was proud to pose with her medal and Cygnet was able to bask in some of her reflected glory.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 9th May 2017
A new kit ordering window is open.
Anything ordered by 22nd May will be priced at bulk rate ('2-11 items' or cheaper) even if only one is ordered.
There are now also 'bundles' available ('Core Racing', 'Utility', 'Cold Weather', and 'Kit Tart'), which are further discounted.
Simply place your order on the Cygnet page of the Godfrey website and the rest is magic.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 8th May 2017
We have a new single for the fleet being built even as I type and due to be delivered soon. And it will need a name.
Small boats are usually named after something close to Cygnets hearts hence Scamp, Old Blades etc. So put you creative thinking caps on and come up with some killer suggestions that you would be happy to be on the side of the boat that you are sculling!
Thanks a lot
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 29th April 2017
Looking ahead to Henley Friday in July. Who wants one of our glory blue Blazers? Please drop me a line, at criscapi[at]googlemail[dot]com to know who might be interested and I will contact you in a separate email.
For your information there are also still are some club ties and cufllinks available, please contact Matt Byrne on ejector[dot]seat[at]gmail[dot]com
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 19th January 2017
It's been a while since Cygnets have had to turn up to a medal ceremony for a head race – and then two come along in one season. We're assured that photos of our Masters Novice IV+ pennant in Fours Head are on their way but in the meantime...
...former captain, Big Dave French was at Vesta yesterday evening to collect his Masters B Novice gong from the Scullers Head. Dave not only won the pennant but also finished in the top 100 (96th), a result made all the more impressive when you consider it was his first ever Scullers Head! He must have been doing proper training and everything. Congratulations Dave.
Congratulations also to our coach Tim Male who also picked-up the Masters B bling and 11th place overall racing for TSS. The last Cygnet Coach to get a Scullers Head result came in 1st overall – just saying' Tim..
Thanks to Tim's daughter for the photos
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 10th December 2016
Here it is, the news you've all been waiting for, the timetable for the 2016 pre-BBLRC Christmas Party Waddle.
17.00: muster at the Club
17.30: Ye White Hart / http://www.whitehartbarnes.co.uk/
18.00: The Tree House / http://treehousepeople.com/barnes/
18.30: Coach & Horses / http://www.coachandhorsesbarnes.co.uk/
19.00 Arrival to the party in The Bulls Head http://www.thebullsheadbarnes.com/
For the uninitiated, details of precisely what a Cygnet Waddle is can be found here. Enjoy!
(and behave yourselves)
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 18th October 2016
You can order kit directly at any time from our supplier Godfrey Sports. However we’ve a club ordering ‘window’ open from now until 20th November.
This means that all the orders are grouped together and we benefit from the group discounts and single postage fee. Anything you order between now and Sunday 20th Nov will be delivered in mid-to-late Dec (so in time for Christmas present lists for Santa, and the Plum Puds race).
No money is taken until after 20th November, when Godfrey have had a chance to collate the orders, apply the discounts and then take the payments. Also, if an item is ordered within this window, your order will be collated into the 2–11 item price bracket, even if yours is the only order for a particular item. The postage costs will also be split between everyone in the order and the kit will be despatched in one box.
Any further questions, please contact Big Dave French who is organising this particular window.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 12th October 2016
The Civil Service hard is now full and can no longer take boating requests for:
Pairs Head on Sunday 16th October
Vet Fours Head on Sunday 13th November.
NOTE: These are both UPRIVER races so the paddle to the start will take longer than usual.
The hard is also very nearly full for HOR4s with only a few boating spaces left available
Click here for Head race boating enquiries
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 9th October 2016
Click on the picture to read this article
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 23rd September 2016
As the last big formal event of the year approaches, members start to wonder if they ought to treat themselves to another bit of club kit and invest in a blazer so that they may *look the part/like a deckchair/like a member of a barber's shop quartet (*delete as appropriate).
With this in mind the Social Secretary has put in a plea for all interested parties to contact him. Club blazers are made to order and the cloth to make them with is also woven specifically for us. Therefore we really need a 'few' orders to make it worthwhile. Please contact Cris asap if you are interested.
They're not cheap but you can't swank around in Stewards in your ragged old school uniform forever [yes you can - Ed.]
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 23rd September 2016
As if the Rhine Marathon isn't hard enough (despite the post-race beer), the notion was mooted last year (doubtless because of the post-race beer) that it might be a 'good idea' to cycle from Cygnet to Benrath. It would make a 'nice change' they pondered, from the drudgery of the airports and would be 'an adventure', something different, 'fun' even.
Well needless to say the principal ideas man has failed spectacularly to follow-up on his brilliant plan [no change there - Ed.] but nevertheless, the hardest of the hardcore are going to give it a bash, all 300+ miles of it.
From the boathouse this Sunday (25th), Ian, Neil and Ian's Dad plan to cycle east across London then 'pop up' to Harwich for the night ferry to Hook of Holland. From there it's a leisurely 220 miles up the course of the Rhine to Benrath, arriving sometime on Thursday – hopefully. This allows a day-off before the small matter of a further 26 miles back down the Rhine in a sculling boat.
If ever a beer was well earned, this will be that time. I'm sure MAG would have approved...
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 31st August 2016
It the Great River Race this Saturday (3rd) and it's inbound this year so make sure your outing is done by about 13.30 as you really don't want to get mixed up in the carnage!
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 11th July 2016
Cufflinks in a box £19
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 24th June 2016
Michael Augustine Arnold-Gilliat
30th April 1935 – 16th June 2016
Michael Arnold-Gilliat, variously known as Mike AG, MAG, the Dowager Chairman or just plain Gilliat, passed away peacefully on 16th June in Charing Cross Hospital, London, after a short struggle with pneumonia. He was 81. On hearing of his death, Lawrence McVeigh, one of his contemporaries remarked that ‘it would take a little time to get used to not having Mike there’. It will indeed; Mike AG was part of the very fabric of Cygnet RC, a quintessential administrator who always had his ‘ear to the ground’ and one who never missed an opportunity to network.
Born in Kennington, south London on 30th April 1935, Mike was a child of the Blitz. Bombed out of Kennington in 1941, the family moved to Bournemouth, where Mike secured an education at St Peter’s School before passing the Civil Service entrance exam in June 1953. No sooner had he joined the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) than he was whisked off to the RAF to do National Service. Not an obvious candidate for airborne duties, Mike was dispatched to Signals on and around Salisbury Plain where it was felt that he could do relatively little harm.
Returning to MAFF in 1955, Mike was initially assigned to the Legal Department where he made the acquaintance of John Bull, a coach at Cygnet who introduced him to the club in 1958. Little did the rowing world know what it was letting itself in for. Over the ensuing half century or so, the name MAG would become synonymous with civil service rowing in all its administrative guises on the Tideway.
Mike enjoyed his rowing, but he was not a natural oarsman and never won his Novices or Maidens as they were known in his day. Maidens were hotly contested in the early 1960s and Mike often recounted events like Evesham where thirty or more entries were not unusual. Still, he could always console himself with the social side of rowing and in 1972 he and a number of other Cygnets featured in a priceless advert for Double Diamond Bitter under the slogan ‘I’m only here for the beer’. This billboard still enjoys pride of place in RG Benrath, Dusseldorf, an inter-club link first established by Mike together with Gordon Burden and Lawrence Mc Veigh in 1965 and one that remains very much alive to this day.
Rowing boats were one thing, but the labyrinthine committee structure of civil service rowing was quite another and Mike revelled in it, swiftly making his mark on the Cygnet committee. Having filled virtually every committee post in the 1960s, Mike would subsequently serve six years (1970-73 and 1980-81) as club captain and 18 years as club chairman. Civil service rowing thrived under MAG’s first stint as captain and he was immensely proud to put his name to the entry form for Cygnet’s first ever entry (under its own name) at Henley Royal Regatta in 1972 and again in 1973. Later, in 1980, he would rally to the cause again, stepping in as captain when the club was at a very low ebb.
Never one to take a back seat, when not commanding the higher echelons of Cygnet RC, Mike took up the reins first as boathouse secretary and subsequently as boathouse chairman, while also becoming involved in the broader Civil Service Sports Council, where he served on the Management Committee and as London Region Secretary. Mike became a vice president of Cygnet in 1978, while his services to civil service rowing and the CSSC were formally recognized in 1982 when he was awarded the Civil Service Merit Award for services to sport and recreation.
Back on the Tideway, Mike became a qualified umpire and officiated at many local regattas and heads in the 1970-80s, as well as becoming entrenched in the organisation of Hammersmith Amateur Regatta (as Treasurer) and the Head of the River Fours (as committee member and Entries Secretary). Mike could be a very canny operator and was instrumental in securing long-term sponsorship from Fullers Brewery for both these events. Nearer to home, he transformed the Cygnet 300 club into a 600 club, greatly aiding the club boat buying programme, which would subsequently see not one, but two boats named Mike Arnold-Gilliat.
MAG’s enduring commitment to the wider world of rowing was recognized in 2002 when he received a British Olympic Association Award, by which time memories of the grass-roots revolt Mike and his Division 18 colleagues had led against perceived ARA misrule in 1976 had presumably been forgotten. However, arguably, the honour Mike coveted most was his election to Leander Club as a ‘full pink’ in 1998, a rare achievement for somebody who had never won his novices, yet one whose rowing CV ranked with the best of them in so many other respects.
No obituary of Mike AG could omit mention of 14 Vernon Road in Sheen, his home for almost fifty years. Countless Cygnet members came to regard Vernon Road as tantamount to a second home and, in a good many cases, a first home, as an army of club members became paying tenants at one time or another. Indeed, the early 1970s found the whole of the captaincy residing at Vernon Road and an invitation to a drink or dinner was a little like an audience at the White House.
No deserving body, often ‘under the influence’, was ever turned away from Gilliat Towers: the back bedroom was always on hand for the ‘tired and emotional’; while kitchen cupboards full of canned food and drink from the local cash-and–carry mitigated the risks of starvation or dehydration. Conversely, inmates were expected to ‘muck in’: Norman Cowling, one of the 1970s alumni, recalls ‘Mike’s next door neighbour was highly amused to see that the tenants were expected to paint the house’.
But perhaps the institution that personified MAG best was the ‘Gilligram’ – hand-typed or written reminders penned by Mike, first as captain and later as boathouse and club chairman, these appeared with unerring regularity in the club letter rack, the forerunner of e-mails as we know them today. Often, these missives would be a summons to the White Hart or the Hare and Hounds to discuss the issues of the day. All the big decisions were thrashed out in one or other of these public houses, infused by the Aaaaabl – the absolute b***dy last – as Mike liked to refer to the last pint(s) of the day.
After an extensive career in MAFF, Mike’s administrative skills were unleashed for one last time on the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (an outpost of MAFF). Not one to hog the spotlight, he was nonetheless proud that under his stewardship Kew Gardens won an award for some of the cleanest toilets in the land! The trail of destruction wrought by the Great Storm of 1987 presented an altogether different challenge. Sometime later, ananonymous benefactor presented the club with its handsome gavel, made from a Kew Turkey Oak which had fallen victim to the storm!
Following early retirement at 55, Mike became a fully paid-up member of the Golden Oldies, which met at the boathouse every Tuesday and Thursday under the tutelage of John Bull. Mike also took up globe-trotting, ably abetted by his travelling companion Andy Rawkins, visiting virtually every continent on the planet. Ever the socialite, many an unsuspecting co-traveller would return home only to find themselves on Mike’s electronic rolodex for ever more. Less well known were his annual pilgrimages to Hosanna House, Lourdes as a hands-on helper: religious faith was always very important to Mike.
Mike never tired of telling his GP that ‘he was easily led astray’ and, in truth, we were all complicit in his antics which were legendary, particularly at locations like the Flower Pot and Henley Royal Regatta. Gracious to a fault, Mike always dismissed these as apocryphal. Yet he remained an administrator to the last, helpfully penning notes for his own obituary. At Cygnet we are fond of proclaiming the demise of club grandees as the ‘end of an era’; with the death of Mike Arnold-Gilliat, that epithet is amply justified, Gilligrams and all. He will be greatly missed by his multitude of friends and family.
24th June 2016
Mike's Funeral will take place on Wednesday 13th July 2016 at 12.30pm
St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church, Mortlake, 61 N. Worple Way, London SW14 8PR.
After the service the family and close friends will accompany Michael to the Crematorium.
By Michael's request a small floral tribute will be provided.
“Reach the Unreached” was founded by Brother Lionel, a teacher at Michael’s old school, and helps poor village people in India. If you wish please make a donation, please send a cheque made payable to “Reach the Unreached”, c/o Holmes & Daughters, 461 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen, London SW14 7PU.
The wake will be in the River Room at the Bulls Head in Barnes.
Please feel free to share your memories of Mike by using the comments box below.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 24th May 2016
The cufflinks show below were made for the 125th anniversary last year. They were made to order so we have none in stock but have had enquiries about getting some more made – this message is to gauge interest in that idea.
Cost will entirely depend on the numbers ordered but we need a minimum of ten orders to make it viable. With an order of ten the cost will be about £18 per pair, unboxed. Boxes will be £1.50 each.
If you are interested in getting a pair (or another pair) please compete this Doodle poll
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 20th May 2016
You'll be pleased, I'm sure, to hear that the Boathouse club room and kitchen are fully functional again! Even better news is that the bar is no longer full of the contents of the club room.
Particular thanks to Tom and Jo for getting the floor, kitchen and plumbing sorted out but also to all the members from both clubs for their efforts decorating and refitting.
It looks great, what chances of keeping it that way? [very slim – Ed.]
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 14th May 2016
The floor's down, the walls are painted, the kitchen's fitted and the finishing touches went up on Thursday evening. The boathouse clubroom is fully operational again. Thanks to Tom and Jo for getting it all sorted out and to all the members who helped to get it shipshape again.
Author: blogster | Date: 2nd May 2016
The good news it that the new floor has been laid in the clubroom and we are awaiting the fitting of a new (ish) kitchen. In the meantime some enthusiastic club members have been busy decorating the walls...
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 19th April 2016
The contractor has had to alter the programme of work [to the floor] slightly, and there will now be no access to the Clubhouse on these dates:
Wednesday 20th (evening),
Friday 22nd (all day),
Monday 25th (all day)
Wednesday 27th (all day).
Work will start at 8:00am this Tuesday 19th April to replace the floor in the main room of the Clubhouse, subject to approval at the SGM on Monday evening.
We need your help TOMORROW Sunday 17th from 10:00 am to clear the main Clubroom ready for the works to start - please let me know if you can join a small working party.
Please read the below, as it will impact on your use of the Club over the next 3 weeks.
For the duration of the works, the outside keysafe will contain the key to the Shed. The remaining keys (including the Boatshop and Clubhouse keys) will be hanging on the hooks inside the Shed.
On the evenings of Wednesday 20th, Friday 22nd and Tuesday 26th April there will be no access at all to the Clubhouse, to allow the dpm, screed and topscreed to dry. Please do not try to get round this as it will cause damage to the work. At all other times (and particularly when the builders are on site between 8:00am and 4pm) please minimise access through the work area and only walk on the protective boarding. (Ladies you can access the changing room through the side escape door once one person has gone through and opened it from the inside).
The kitchen will be taken out, and so there will be no drinking water in the clubhouse. We will provide bottled water in the shed. The upstairs boat washing tap provides mains water which should also be ok to drink.
Please do not obstruct access for builder's vehicles between the Shed and the back of the Club when parking in the car park during working hours.
Thank you everybody, in advance, for your patience and forbearance. When it is all over there will be a Club social to christen the new floor and kitchen - aiming for the weekend 7th/8th May, details tbc.
on behalf of CSBE Committee
Author: blogster | Date: 12th April 2016
Calling all scullers...
This weekend (weather permitting) there’s a chance to join an expedition for experienced scullers/small boats up for adventure, and we’re calling it a “scull-a-thon.”
It involves sculling/rowing from the club to the Cygnet bungalow in Shepperton on Saturday – then staying the night – and coming back on Sunday.
It takes about four hours, and Gareth is arranging for the locks at Teddington, Molesey, and Sunbury to be opened so it should be a smooth run. All you require is stamina (and some snacks, and a few bottles of water!). There will be breaks at every lock.
The plan is to go with the flood tide on Saturday morning (so leave the club at 10am) and then come back on Sunday morning.
The reward is being welcomed at the bungalow with lashings of tea, hot showers, and then the pub in the evenings with the rest of the campers, before a decent nights kip!
If you think you might want to take part please email Gareth asap
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 22nd March 2016
The PLA are very concerned that the high number of objections to their tree cutting programme may force them to stop it, although it is done with the full cooperation of the Local Authority and conservation authorities. However, a very noisy minority is making life difficult for them and could harm our interests.
Please send a supportive email from your club, outlining the navigational and safety hazards caused by the trees. If the schools and clubs with juniors can highlight the hazards to children caused by the trees, I think it will carry extra weight. if you have had any incidents, describe them.
If we can get large numbers of individuals to write as well the effect will be greater.
Everyone could write about the effects of the trees on safety and navigation, but those who are local residents could highlight the insecurity felt by many people walking along the towpath, because of the overgrown thick trees and undergrowth. I know some people are affected in this way, my wife will not walk alone between Barnes and St. Paul’s because she was frightened by a weirdo hiding in the undergrowth, I am sure there have been others.
Please email Jim Trimmer, Director of Planning and Environment - email@example.com
Let’s get as big a campaign as possible to take on the noisy minority nimbies, and become the noisy majority
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 9th March 2016
Eric William Wale
30th April 1931 – 11th February 2016
Rowing often runs in families. It is not hard to think of some of the longstanding names in our sport – the Phelps and the Barrys come easily to mind. Still, such longevity remains the exception rather than the rule at Cygnet. That said, though, one family that can point to almost a century of association with Cygnet is the Wales.
Eric William Wale, who died on 11th February 2016, was the son of W.G. (Billy) Wale, who joined Cygnet at Hammersmith in the early 1920s and remained a keen supporter in the post-war period. Minutes of annual general meetings throughout the early 1950s record the presence of both father and son and some of Eric’s surviving contemporaries still recall Wale senior as an enthusiastic cheer leader at regattas, sharing in their trials and triumphs.
Eric joined Cygnet in 1949, directly from National Service, having served in the RAF. Indeed, according to Frank Caughlin, a fellow crew member, Eric’s first appearance at Cygnet was in his RAF uniform. However, Eric quickly made the transition to ‘civvy’ street, initially joining the Treasury Solicitor’s Department, before moving to the Telephones Branch of the General Post Office (GPO), thus maintaining family tradition (‘Billy’ had also worked in the GPO as a postman). In later years, this branch of the GPO would be hived off as British Telecom (BT), where Eric would enjoy a highly successful career until retirement in the late-1980s.
In 1949, Eric would have been welcomed at Cygnet as one of a new wave of ‘young blood’ upon whom the club’s hopes of reclaiming the victorious years of the 1930s would hang. Eric took an active interest in club affairs and soon found himself on the committee. By 1950, the club was in a position to boat an Vlll for open regattas consisting entirely of the post-war intake of new members. Thereafter, Cygnet continued to build up a competitive head of steam such that by 1953, in Eric’s own words (penned in the 1990s), ‘there was a real feeling that the breakthrough had been achieved’.
Eric was referring to a Junior Vllls win at Chiswick, Cygnet’s first win in open competition since 1939. A photograph of the victorious crew drawn from Cygnet’s digitized archives (available to view on the web site) shows Eric standing on the far right, the initials E.W.W. proudly emblazoned across his tracksuit top. Silverware aside, Eric also met Sylvia, his future wife, at Chiswick Regatta. By 1954, Cygnet was riding on a high and Eric rowed in winning Junior-Senior Vllls at Horseferry, Willesden and Kingston, followed by Maidenhead in 1955.
Every generation retains fond memories of their competitive (and less competitive) years at Cygnet. In Eric’s case, we are fortunate that he chose to devote some of his retirement to authoring ‘Cygnet Rowing Club: The Fifties’. This account, which proved invaluable in the compilation of a more recent history of the club, captures the spirit of the post-war era at Cygnet and justifiably concludes that ‘the fifties were by any standard a period of significant achievement’.
Although Eric retired from active rowing in the fifties, he retained a keen interest in the club’s activities for the rest of his days and regularly attended club social occasions. As club historian, I am particularly grateful for the club memorabilia that he periodically passed on to me in later years. Some of this memorabilia dated back to the time of Wale senior, like the 1922 Civil Service Regatta programe, which lists ‘Billy’ rowing three in Novice lVs.
One of Eric’s regrets was that he never competed at Henley Royal Regatta, although ‘the intention or aim was always there’. Nonetheless, he rarely missed an opportunity to attend Henley Royal, joining Vic Reeves and Frank Caughlin for an annual visit to the Stewards Enclosure. That said, Eric was happiest picnicking with family and friends out on the towpath close to the start of the regatta, comfortable in the knowledge (as he put it) that ‘everybody does Henley in their own way’.
Eric is survived by his wife Sylvia and two daughters, Gill and Sarah. Among those who attended his funeral at Chilterns Crematorium, Amersham on 26th February were his rowing contemporaries Frank Caughlin, Maurice Hart and Brian Lovis, all of whom recalled carefree days sparring in club regattas on the Chiswick reach more than half a century ago.
Author: blogster | Date: 10th February 2016
Not only was he the fastest solo competitor in the race but he also finished in a record solo time of 52 days, 3 hours and 26 minutes.
If you look very closely, you'll see a little Cygnet logo on the hull under the port rowlock. This is due to our very small contribution towards his challenge but his main objective was to raise money for CRY - Cardiac Risk in the Young. If you would like to make a donation towards this worthwhile charity you can do so via his website.
Matteo was last seen in Antigua stuffing pizza down his neck...
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 16th December 2015
For all those who have never been to Germany for the Rhine Marathon or for those that have but have forgotten what it's like, we now have video of the whole race. Don't panic, it's not 2.5 hours long, just an 8 minute edit thanks to Lars Ludwig at RG Benrath, who coxed one of our boats this year.
It's on YouTube but to save you searching there's it's also been linked to the Rhine Marathon page for your viewing pleasure. Less sure about Lars musical taste but the rest of it is a great effort. Enjoy!
Author: blogster | Date: 30th November 2015
Many congratulations to our Deputy Captain Nick Rae who got married to the lovely Sian at St Mary's in Barnes on Saturday.
Maybe now we'll actually see him in a boat again...
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 18th November 2015
There is still an opportunity to sign-up for the BBLRC Christmas Do on 12th December. If you're free, you really should go because apart from being a great bash in itself, it's also a great opportunity for everybody to get to know each other better through the medium of excessive booze. Sign-up here
On that point, there is also the matter of The Waddle to consider. For the uninitiated the details and rules of The Waddle are posted here.
You know it makes sense...
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 13th October 2015
One could almost feel the excitement building as the publication date of latest edition of the Cygnet history loomed larger. Well you can all let the excitement go now because it's at the printers.
Naturally you'll be queueing-up to get your hands on this limited edition masterpiece and if you order before next Friday it will be ready to collect at the Henley Lunch on 24th October.
All orders and enquiries to Paul Rawkins if you please...
Author: Jeremy Pugh | Date: 1st October 2015
Sue is stepping down from her lead coaching role after Pairs Head. Here's a copy of the ad from The Rowing Service. If you're interested or know someone who could be then get in touch:
Cygnet is a men's rowing club based on the Tideway in Barnes. We are looking for a qualified coach for our Senior and Novice squads from mid October '15. We want someone with their own ideas to look at and shape our coaching structure and training plans. Our current set up is to have outings on Saturday and Sunday mornings and additional weekday evenings through the summer with land based weekday training in the winter, but that is not set in stone and we will take on board what our coach recommends. The seniors compete in all the local Head Races with the aim of qualifying for Henley. We have a new intake of novices to develop to win novice pots in next year’s regatta season. We are a relatively small club but want to build our base of competitive rowers and see good coaching as key to our progression and our overall enjoyment of the sport. Our coach will give us guidance in this as well as directing our land based training, recruitment and selecting crews for Heads and regattas. We are looking for 4-5 sessions a week, payment will be per session rate based on experience.
Applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org with a CV to register interest.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 17th September 2015
It's not just about trying to achieve success on the river – a club is only as good as it's members and at Cygnet we like to acknowledge that with a couple of little awards at the squad End of Season Dinner...
The captain stood-up and did his bit last Friday (good practice for his forthcoming speaking engagement at the Henley Lunch) by presenting the Wally Wheldal Cup to the most improved oarsman to Charlie and the J.P. Jefferies Cup to the Clubman of the year to Cristobal. Both very well deserved and popular choices – but probably the closest these two will get to a pair of Silver Goblets for a while yet!
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 26th August 2015
The deadline is looming for 50th anniversary tee shirt orders. Next Friday 4th September. Currently we're being embarrassed by the number of Benrath wording these compared to Cygnets. Come on Chaps, you know it makes sense. Details and order form here
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 3rd August 2015
Cygnet / Benrath 50th Anniversary tee shirts are now available to order.
And never forget "We're only here for the Beer!"
Author: blogster | Date: 3rd July 2015
Some old Cygnet skippers you know,
Are taking an eight for a row,
‘tween the famous old booms,
They are planning to ‘zoom’
Saluting Old Blades as they go
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 1st July 2015
The new 300 Club year is upon us and we'll be celebrating by unleashing the balls at Henley Royal Regatta this Friday.
There will be 2 draws to kick the year off with the usual prizes of £25, £40, £60 and £100 available.
We're also celebrating our 125th year with a SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY TICKET OFFER ... that is we're offering a free ticket when you purchase 4 by Standing Order
If you move fast and can confirm by email that you've done this before Friday ALL your tickets will be included in every draw this year (remembering your free ticket is only applicable to this 300 Club year - not forever). It's a classic time limited 5 for 4.
Excited? Of course you are. Please email me to confirm bank details/transfers or alternatively bring cash or chqs to Henley on Friday and see the balls in play!
Thanks all in advance.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 6th June 2015
Christopher St John Gates - 1934 to 2015
Every successful club needs both energetic and determined oarsmen and also an equally committed team behind them to provide the support to enable them to get on with winning races. Chris Gates, who died on 21st May, was definitely in the latter group - a very committed supporter of Cygnet RC yet one who never sought to be a member of a regular racing squad.
Chris Gates was introduced to rowing during an overseas posting with the Department of the Environment to Ndola in the copper belt of Zambia and was joined in this by his wife, Margaret, who although coming from a rowing family had not rowed before going to Zambia. There were not many opportunities for competition but events were held in conjunction with the rowing club in Harare, then in Southern Rhodesia. This led to rowing on the Zambesi River, which saw then rowing along the international border, requiring crews to carry passports!
On their return to London in 1973, Chris joined Cygnet and Margaret CSLRC (the forerunner of BBLRC). Chris was the epitome of the "casual oarsman", willing to turn his hand to anything and happy to construct scratch crews around whomever was available on the night. Such qualities did not go unnoticed and Chris was soon inveigled into becoming Deputy Captain in 1982, a post he held until 1985. The photograph below was taken later in the 1980s on the occasion of a president’s supper with Chris pictured second from left.
Cygnet has often been regarded as a club of administrators first and oarsmen second. Chris Gates was very much of this mould and he was soon in demand as Chairman of the Boathouse Executive. As with rowing, so with managing the boathouse, Chris’s conciliatory yet firm approach got things done. However, his rowing days were far from over and the late 1980s found him running the Business House Head, an invitation event for business house rowing clubs including the clearing banks, major oil companies, utilities and London Transport. It was he who arranged for a (victorious) Cygnet veteran Vlll to row as number 100 in 1990 (out of a field of 30-something) on the occasion of the club’s centenary.
Chris Gates’ move to a DoE posting in Bedford in 1988, to escape the London rat race, was much regretted by the Cygnet casual squad. However, never one to let the grass grow under his feet, he and Margaret were soon immersed in St Neot’s RC, where those in authority sought him out to run St Neot’s Regatta, an event much-loved and well-attended by Cygnet. Under Chris’s five year stewardship, a competitor-friendly atmosphere coexisted with an efficient running order that took challenges such as multiple ‘doubling up’ by participating crews in its stride.
Even after Chris had passed on the reins of St Neot’s Regatta, he and Margaret remained regular visitors, always keen to meet visiting members of Cygnet and BBLRC, until illness precluded his attendance. A memorial service for Chris Gates will be held at St Neot’s Parish Church on Thursday 11th June at 2.30pm, with light refreshments afterwards at the nearby Chequers Restaurant.
Phil Brown and Paul Rawkins
A Personal Recollection
As another of the regular “casuals”, I was often in contact with Chris. A frequent evening outing was 5 oarsmen in a IV+, with cox and stroke changing halfway. This was not always appreciated by the other 3 as just when they were beginning to dream of a gentle return to the boathouse for a pint a fresh stroke could set a challenging pace. One memorable outing with Chris was in “Non-Sequitur”, we fitted well together, neither working very hard, and soon had this light pair skimming over the water. My last outing with Chris was a composite IV- from St Neots RC, when we were joined by Margaret and Rubina Curtis.
It was through Chris that I rowed in a St Neots crew in the Head of the River. One of his crew had not turned up and Chris spotted me settling down in the bar to enjoy watching the race. A plea that I had no kit was answered with “we will find you some”, as indeed they did with the final item (a pair of socks) being tossed over as the boat pushed off from the hard.
When Chris moved to St Neots he handed over the running of the Business Houses Head to me. This gave me several year's of pleasure with the opportunity to meet crews from far and wide. It was really rather easy as Chris had established a well organised process. It was from Chris that I learnt the art of organising the draw. To make matters more interesting we set up local matches rather than a strict adherence to the results from the previous year – London Transport (District Line) were not worried where they came, as long as they “beat the buses” (London Transport (DRS)).
The Head gave rise to a useful little earner for Cygnet, probably devised by Chris, – the pennant factory. Having set up a process for cutting and sewing the felt and someone prepared to print the artwork, it was possible to expand the production batch by taking orders for other local heads, notably from CSLRC (as it then was) for the Pairs Head. Clearly this was too lucrative market to continue as Cygnet was undercut and the market was taken over by others.
On winter evenings, Chris took on another task, that of timekeeping for the Club run, which was run on a handicap basis. Once the last (ie quickest) of the runners had left, Chris would set off on a short run of his own, to return in time for the first of the returning runners.
For a number of years, Rubina and I made the pilgrimage to St Neots, to support our respective Clubs and to meet Chris & Margaret. There was Chris at the centre of the organisation and Margaret helping out with the refreshments. Often we ended up in a local hostelry for a meal. Sadly in recent years, Chris' health made it difficult for him to get to the Regatta. The tradition will continue, however, and we have already accepted an invitation to meet Margaret at this year's event.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 2nd May 2015
Pat, Prudence and Oscar Sly would like to thank all the very many friends who were in touch following Peter’s death on 9th March. We received over 200 cards, letters and emails as well as phone calls - many containing personal recollections starting from those early days in the 1960s and 70s when Peter and I were so very involved in the two clubs as well as more recent times, especially Henley Fridays.
Thank you also to all those who were able to actually get inside St Nicholas Church, Remenham, for Peter’s funeral and to those who listened to the service from outside over the loudspeakers. We are sorry not to have been able to speak to everyone on the day – and we understand that there were over 300 people at the church! – but your presence to celebrate Peter’s life and to say “Goodbye” to him was so very much appreciated.
Henley Friday at Old Blades will continue to be available to the members and friends of both Cygnet and Barnes Bridge Ladies, the 2015 date being 3rd July. We look forward to seeing some of you then.
The Sly Family x
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 24th April 2015
No it's not a scheme to make rowers look where they are going and stop crashing into one another, although that's not such a bad idea.... This is a consultation by the PLA about the future of the river for the next twenty. If you have something to say, now's the time.
Go to The Thames Vision questionnaire on the PLA website to voice your views.
Author: blogster | Date: 2nd April 2015
A message from the Social Secs...
"We will be awarding some top prizes at the Xmas do for 'Best Race Face 2015'. We know it's a long way off but as each race passes we get some beautiful shots that should not be forgotten ;-)
Nomination categories are:
Not sure exactly what the "top prizes" will be or even if the prize goes tot the photographer or the face puller? Either way, you can bet that they'll be presented at some sort of "Do" and will be all the more exciting with a couple of glasses of bubbly inside.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 26th March 2015
Peter Sly, President of Cygnet Rowing Club, 1975 - 2015
In 1950, an erstwhile club historian wrote "Cygnet had ever been a club to foster the social side'. No member embodied the spirit of that remark more than Peter Sly, Cygnet’s longstanding club president, who passed away on 9th March 2015 at the age of 85. He died as he had lived, surrounded by his family in the peace and tranquility of ‘Old Blades’, his beloved residence at Henley-on-Thames.
Peter Sly never claimed to be an accomplished oarsman, but he was one of the sport’s great extroverts. Nothing pleased him more than ‘holding court’ at Cygnet lunches and dinners or in the comfort of ‘Old Blades’, the most select enclosure on the Henley course at regatta time. Indeed, no visit to Henley Royal Regatta was complete without a pilgrimage to ‘Old Blades’ to be lambasted by Sly for one’s shortcomings as a sportsman, a spouse, a club officer or whatever else came to mind.
Courtship rather than sportsmanship initially enticed Peter Sly into the world of rowing. Peter was smitten with Pat Heron, a business associate at Crown Agents (a government procurement agency for governments overseas), who filled her leisure hours coxing the women's first VIII at the Civil Service Ladies Rowing Club (now BBLRC). Sly rapidly concluded that joint enterprise held the key to a deep and meaningful relationship with Ms Heron, so he joined Cygnet, the men's counterpart of CSLRC.
More accustomed to the unscrupulous world of big business than the gentle art of pen pushing, Peter Sly took Cygnet by storm. Norman Cowling, an active member at the time, recounts "Peter had an immediate impact on all aspects of club life". In next to no time, Peter’s ‘can do’ attitude had secured the club its first boat trailer and a new coaching launch, shaken up the club social scene and reorganized the club’s finances, entrusting the boat fund to a sleek new merchant bank in the City.
Richard du Parcq, who was doing his first stint as club Treasurer, recalls “I well remember climbing, no staggering, out of Peter's Roller in St James St, after a goodish lunch, for a spot of customer feedback to the bank.” Soon afterwards the bank went bust, but not before club funds had been withdrawn in the nick-of-time, following an astute tip-off from Sly.
Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, in 1972 Peter attained an ARA Silver Coaching Award and promptly set about putting it into practice. Success followed a few months later with an easy win for a Cygnet Novice Vlll at Worcester. While this would be his only claim to coaching fame, his greatest contribution to the sport lay in the world of women’s rowing.
By the mid-1970s, Pat was juggling multiple roles as Mrs Sly, Captain of CSLRC and Secretary for the Womens’ (National) Rowing Committee. These were formative times for women’s rowing: CSLRC had graduated to the nucleus of the women’s national squad, while several CSLRC members would participate in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Peter was hugely supportive throughout, becoming a serial cheer leader for women’s rowing, a renowned supporter at home and international regattas and a champion of Henley Women’s Regatta.
A man for all seasons, Peter Sly was the obvious choice for Cygnet club president, an office he was invited to fill in 1975 and one he held until his dying day, a time span of 40 years. Reputedly the longest serving club president on the Tideway, Peter once quipped that it was the least onerous post he had held in his life, apart from Church Warden. In reality, he moulded the presidency to suit his character and the two were ultimately indistinguishable.
Peter Sly never won a Henley medal, but he had the next best thing: a superior piece of real estate located half way along the Henley course. Suitably lubricated with a glass of wine or two, Peter would happily recount how in 1977 he was alerted at the eleventh hour (by Len Huggett) to the auction of two riverside workmen’s cottages close to Remenham. Sly subsequently ‘bet the ranch’ to acquire the two properties and the builders moved in to transform them into ‘Old Blades’.
A high spot of the early years of Peter’s presidency was the President’s Lunch held in the River Room at Old Blades where momentous decisions were taken, but none remembered. These occasions were always preceded by generous libations at the Flower Pot while Pat was slaving over a hot stove back at base.
Always happy to imbibe with the ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ set, Peter was equally at home with the younger membership, or quaffing ‘Alt’ beer with our friends at R G Benrath in Germany. Some members were greater butts of his jokes than others, but he was a shrewd judge of character and had a warm spot in his heart for everyone. ‘Old Blades’ rarely turned away a deserving waif or stray.
Latterly, Peter was often to be found taking ‘walks’ along Remenham Lane on his mobility buggy, wearing one of his ‘trade mark’ wide brim hats. This mode of transport suited him very well and allowed him to arrive in style at the President’s Lunch at Remenham Club during regatta week. Following a lunch replete with port and brandy, he would happily motor back up the towpath to ‘Old Blades’, oblivious to all the regatta goers who had been mown down in his wake.
In sum, to quote Norman Cowling again, “Peter Sly was a genuine life enhancer. You could not have a dull time in Peter's company; he would not allow it.” The rowing world will be a poorer place without Peter Sly; at Cygnet he will be sorely missed as the club prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary, devoid of its most vociferous dignitary.
Paul Rawkins, 20th March 2015
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 26th March 2015
Please click here for the Henley Standard's obituary of Peter
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 26th March 2015
The late President of our London friends has passed away. For those that knew him, this news is exceptionally sad, as Peter Sly was such a key part to our partnership with Cygnet Rowing Club.
Peter was a gentleman. Whoever met him commented on his imposing stature, as well as his larger than life gestures and facial expressions. One of my earliest memories is from the 70s: with his enormous hat and his cigar he was “The Godfather“ incarnate.
Peter Sly was a patriarch. I have a vivid memory from 10 years ago during a visit to Henley Regatta how Peter came down from his house above the Thames in order to greet the throng of visitors assembled on the patio by the river.
Peter Sly was a force for our integration and not just for members from his own club. He was always concerned about the Benrath rowers and their safe journeys while the UK. Through these acts of kindness both Peter and his wife Pat showed enormous hospitality.
These memories and descriptions of him can barely scratch the surface in describing the fond memories many of us hold for this gentleman, some of us as a result of over 50 years of his friendship with RG Benrath. He himself took great joy in this partnership between the clubs, a good example coming from his congratulatory speech for our 75th anniversary when he said: “Many lasting friendships have been made, although there have so far been no marriages!“. You could see him smiling when he said that. He also gave us occasion to smile a lot, for example through his speech to RG Benrath in German.
The older “Head“ competitors from Benrath will remember the “After Head Regatta“ at Peter’s house in Henley. From the 80s Peter was often in Benrath with his wife Pat, his children Prudence and Oscar as well as his mother-in-law (Peter couldn’t really pronounce the German for Mother-in-Law, *Schwiegermutter). Benrathers were always welcome as guests of Peter and Pat when they visited the Thames. And in 2005 we were lucky to enjoy this on a grand scale again at a big party in Peter’s garden by the banks of the Thames for the 40th anniversary celebration of the two club’s partnership.
Thank you, Peter. We shall not forget you.
Ferdi Picker, March 2015
(Translated from the original German by former Cygnet Captain Rob Henderson)
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 15th March 2015
Peter Sly's funeral will be taking place at 2pm on Thursday 26th March at St Nicholas' Church, Remenham, with a celebration afterwards at Old Blades. All are welcome and the family would love to see as many club members and friends there as feel able make it. They would also like it made clear that it is to be a celebration of Peter's life rather than a mourning of his passing and if anyone has any stories or anecdotes suitable for the eulogy, please feel free to pass them on. You are positively encouraged to wear your club blazer, if you have one.
Please contact either Pat or Pru if you intend to go so that they know about numbers for catering. If you don't have contact details for anyone at Old Blades, please contact any of the club officers or the webmaster for those details.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 9th March 2015
Cygnet RC are very sad to announce the death this afternoon (Monday 9th March) of our President,
Peter, who had been ill for some time, died peacefully
at home surrounded by his family.
The whole club extend their most heartfelt condolences
to Pat, Pru and Oscar.
Author: blogster | Date: 22nd February 2015
"...Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to Cygnet, Happy birthday to us".
A splendid turn out at the Duke's Head for the occasion of our 125th birthday drinkies. Not bad at all in fact, considering it was a school night, with good smattering old (past) members putting in an appearance as well the usual Smörgåsbord old (old) and new members plus friends. As predicted the Chairman made a speech, which was going surprisingly well until he started singing!
Total Friday morning carnage was averted when the pub ran out of brown beer by 10.30 so we staggered on our merry way 'proud' of having drunk the bar dry.
A few photos of the festivities are posted here. Thankfully no sound recordings were made.
Author: blogster | Date: 3rd February 2015
The blogster's recent discovery of a known brand ergo in a Cuban gym prompted a question to the rest of the squad. Where's the most far flung place you've trained on an ergo? 10K UT2 in Beijing? 2K test in Tuvalu? Feel free to post your international ergo experiences below.
Author: blogster | Date: 12th January 2015
It's that time of year again; all the festive food has been guzzled, the decorations taken down and now the Cygnet treasurer will soon be on your case to collect this year's subscription.
Being of the Old Skool, he much prefers a nice big fat cheque for the full amount to be submitted in the appropriate pigeon hole but I'm sure that if you ask nicely, he'll take it in a couple of smaller payments to help ease the (post Christmas) financial load. He even accepts payment by that new–fangled electronic transfer thingy these days - just be sure to reference it properly AND send him an email to explain that is what you've done, and when. And why.
Ours are still the lowest subs on the Tideway (I think) so you really mustn't grumble and rowing is so much cheaper and so much more fun than joining a poncy gym. Bet you don't get leaves and rust and spiders webs on a Virgin Active leg press...
Author: blogster | Date: 24th December 2014
Well for many of us the Head season has now taken that festive pause and it was great to sign off with a surprisingly solid row in a scratch crew during Sunday's Plum Puddings training piece. Cheeky post Christmas outings were hatched in the bar afterwards so some expect some 'unofficial' activity between Christmas and the New Year.
In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas everyone!
Author: blogster | Date: 12th December 2014
Dear Cygnet Friends,
Some of you will have known and some will remember
Fred Blasberg, who died a little over two weeks ago. He was involved at the very beginning of our partnership with the Cygnets and would very much have enjoyed celebrating our half century with you next year. Unfortunately that was not be. He died aged 81 after a long illness.
Fred was one of our few honorary members. He was an active rower for over 60 years and held various positions on our management board. These began with responsibility for our youngsters and culminated in three decades as club secretary and editor of our club magazine.
He held many rowing honours, and in 2004 was awarded the equator prize for having rowed 40,000 Km.
Because of his deep and constant involvement with our club and its members, both young and old, he held a very special place in our hearts. He had a prodigious and encyclopaedic memory, an open ear for our troubles and the twinkling eyes of a committed and enthusiastic rower. We called him, with great respect, Mr. RGB.
All the best
Author: blogster | Date: 11th December 2014
We are now a mere 72 hours away from the annual Barnes Bridge Ladies Christmas bash and you are still in need of vital information, namely the finalised pre-Party Waddle details. There have been a few tweaks to the Waddle itinery, in part to correct the flawed assumption that it will take precisely zero minutes to walk between pubs [unless you're Geordie, he can disapparate between pubs, it's amazing]
Most importantly, please read the rules of the Waddle, a guide to Gentlemanly conduct before and during the Party.
We are still in need of a Whipman of course, a position of considerable power, so volunteers welcome. Assume you will need to give the Whipman £20 in order to cover a pint in each of the three pubs and a pint on arrival at the venue.
If you are a deviant and drinking spirits then £25 should cover it.
The 2014 Waddle itinary
17:00 - 17:30: Gather in Ye White Hart (Barnes).
17:30 - 17:45: Amble to the Jolly Gardeners.
17:45 - 18:15: Jolly Gardeners (Mortlake).
18:15 - 18:45: The Ship (Chiswick Bridge).
18:45 - 19:00: Meander to Dukes Meadow’s Golf Club
19:00: Arrive at venue, get another drink and prepare to eat, be merry and disco.
You may notice that there is no boathouse bar on the Waddle itinery. Quite cunningly, the party venue is situated very close to the boathouse bar so this will enable us to hold the inaugural Waddle Into Darkness, which will journey from the party venue to the boathouse bar just after midnight.
See you on Saturday at 17:00.
Author: Neil Pickford | Date: 10th December 2014
As anybody who has done it knows, maintaining an old wooden boat can be a very time–consuming business, especially when that boat gets used by all and sundry,
many of whom are not, shall we say, experienced boaty types.
Despite a thorough overhaul and re–fit about five years ago, 'Juppy', one of our venerable bungalow dinghies is past her prime and the bungalow committee have decided, with reluctance, to replace her with something that requires a little less maintenance - and able to handle a little more abuse!
They would like give first refusal to any Cygnet member
or friend who might be interested in taking her on - free of charge - before she is offered for sale or is set alight and sent over the weir in a blaze of glory [I might have made
that last bit up]
If you're interested please contact the Chairman or leave a comment below, before the HoRR (28th March), for more details or to make arrangements. Collect from Hamhaugh Island only.
Author: blogster | Date: 18th November 2014
Our invite to the Barnes Bridge Ladies Christmas Party has arrived and this year it will be held at Dukes Meadows Golf Club on Saturday 13th December from 7pm.
Price is £45 per person which includes a welcome drink,
3 courses and half a bottle of wine. Plus dancing 'till late.
Although not stated, the dress code is understood to be Black Tie like preceding years, so break out those dinner jackets and dicky-bows guys.
There will be a disco and of course the traditional Cygnet pre-party Waddle. This year the Waddle will take in the boathouse bar, Ye White Hart, Jolly Gardeners and The Ship before arriving at the venue promptly for 7pm with thirsts quenched (Waddle times TBC)
The Waddle comes with its own rules that I imagine Mr Pickford will circulate in due course. In the meantime, get those tickets bought. It's a great night for dancing, merriment and, for some, wife finding (just ask our VC).
You know it makes sense..............
Author: blogster | Date: 29th October 2014
As reported by the skipper in his recent weekly log, it appears that we have won the annual PLA safety award - again! This time we are sharing the prize money with Furnivall RC (congratulations also to them) but it's still enough cash for a couple of new pairs of sculling blades,
a hull refurbishment or some extra coaching.
We also have the honour of hosting the award ceremony, which usually brings with it a substantial beer tab courtesy of the PLA. This extravaganza will take place at the club on Monday 1st December at 7pm. A school night admittedly but all members are invited to come along and have a pint on the 'fun police', after all, you earned it: it's not just the safety advisor or the captaincy or the committee that have achieved this, the whole club has bought into the safety culture and it's only right that the whole club get to enjoy the rewards.
Well done chaps. See you there. Best drinking trousers on.
Author: blogster | Date: 19th October 2014
As Cygnet & Barnes Bridge legend, Vic Reeves once said "The boathouse really was a marriage bureau at times". Back then it was St. Georges Ladies, these days it's Barnes Bridge Ladies but I'm sure he'd be delighted to see that some things never change.
So very much in time honoured tradition, the Blogster would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to the Cygnet Vice Captain, Mr Ian Mountain who was married last weekend to the lovely Katie Coyle of Barnes Bridge Ladies.
Could it be coincidence that Katie spent much of their courtship as Bar Steward I wonder...
Author: blogster | Date: 2nd October 2014
It's time to lay out your lederhosen, bring on the bratwurst and hunker down for 42km of hardcore marathon rowing. Cygnet and Barnes Bridge Ladies are once again making their annual pilgrimage to Dusseldorf this weekend to visit their friends at RG Benrath with what is perhaps the largest contingent of oarsmen yet. Six racing crews have been entered in the Rhine Marathon and that doesn't include those who are only 'heir fur das (alt) bier'.
The very best of luck to all our crews. Remember that golden rule: row fast, drink hard, break down.
And that's before the Killepitsch.........
Author: blogster | Date: 28th September 2014
Cygnet and Barnes Bridge Ladies today introduced new civil service entrants to the boathouse. Met by a warm Captaincy welcome, the recent grads were shown round the boathouse facilities and took part in a rowing tank session and team ergo games. The morning was rounded off with bacon and egg sarnies as new and experienced rowers discussed their aspirations for the season ahead.
A big thank you to all the CYG and BBL members who took time out to make the morning a success.
Author: blogster | Date: 22nd September 2014
Since we've just spent a splendid weekend there on Sculling Camp, now would seem like a good time to point out that it was 50 years ago this year that the Bungalow was rebuilt in it's current form by club members.
The club owes a debt of gratitude to all those members who put in the work to build and maintain it over the years particularly to Ronnie Lambe who was bungalow secretary for more years than he cares to remember.
Even more so, thanks must go to Derek Bush who not only masterminded the 1964 construction but continues to maintain the Bungalow to this day. He has also recently taken on the role of bungalow secretary despite living in Kent. Now that's dedication!
But Derek can't do it all on his own and is always on the look out for members to help him around the place. So, if you think you have the DIY skills or simply some time to help keep this valuable club asset (and piece of club history) going, then please do get in–touch with Derek. I'm sure that there'll be a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive in it for you.
Author: blogster | Date: 11th September 2014
So after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, long email silences and a certain amount of incomprehension amongst the club blazeratti, Cygnet RC once again has a website that works - Hurrah!
Please feel free to comment, make (publishable) suggestions, point out typos, request things you think might be of benefit and interest or request that we delete things that you'd really rather not be available on-line, by contacting the webmaster.
We sincerly aim to keep this new site much more up-to-date so why not bookmark it or even make it the default site in your browser.
Many thanks also to previous webmasters Tom and Mike for all thier efforts over the years.
Author: blogster | Date: 30th August 2014
Cygnet's young and, er, more mature? gathered together for food and drink at the Coach and Horses in Barnes on 29 August to mark the end of the season, count their regatta pots and hatch plans for rowing domination for the year ahead, some realistic, some totally utterly insane.
Helped along their way by fine ale, a dash of bravado and naked enthusiasm, the lads and lasses present set the rowing world to rights. And awards were presented. Super cox with a truly worrying taste in music Lou Johnson won the Wally Wheldal Cup for Cygnet of the Year whilst Nick Rae bagged the GP Jefferies Cup for most improved oarsmen. Congrats to both, though we do expect you to return the cups next year guys!
Around 1am the folk dispersed into the night. A great time had by all (except perhaps the sole attendee in black tie ;-)).
Author: cyg125 | Date: 18th August 2014
To mark the first day of blog posting, the Cygnet Blogster went to the Great British Beer Festival to celebrate. A great time was had but it got the Blogster thinking about the prominant role that real ale has within the rowing community.
In our case, we row a mere stones through away from London's biggest ale brewery. The brewery company in question playing a prominent role sponsoring the Fours Head. Naturally, being a Londoner, the Blogster gets nose bleeds travelling beyond the M25, but it is understood there are other examples across the country of rowing clubs and their local tipple going hand in hand. Feel free to post some of your favourite examples.
Of course, a pre-requisite of any club bar is to have a healthy stock of ale (if not on tap then in bottled form). On that basis, it's perhaps reassuring to know the Cygnet bar has one of the broadest selection of bottled ales on the Tideway. Rowing and beer quality go hand in hand.
Author: cyg125 | Date: 17th August 2014
First ever Cygnet blog post. Woo-hoo! Like a novice swimmer, your club blogster is still sporting his social media armbands (and displaying worrying IT skill deficiencies) but hopes to come good over the coming months posting all sorts of stuff that's at least vaguely rowing related. Highlights may include:
Let's see how we get on.