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Southampton and District Pictorial 9 April 1913

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On Saturday 3 December 1870, the Southampton Times reported on a challenge race: “the Thames v Southampton.” The Southampton crew had “contended at all the regattas on the south coast during the summer … pulling off no less than nine first and two second prizes,” leading to Mr Messenger of Teddington challenging them with his own hand-picked crew over “the Southampton Course”. The date was set for Monday 28th November, both crews having trained for a month beforehand.
The South Western Railway ran excursion trains, and every vantage point from the start at Fawley Beacon to the Town Quay was packed with onlookers. So many people had not been gathered together in Southampton for many a long year: over 3,500 paid to pass on to the Royal Pier.
“The London betting men were in great force” with their odds in favour of the London crew “while those in the secret freely took the same [odds] in favour of the Southampton crew.”
By 1.15pm, the Southampton crew were afloat in their new boat, the Test, and with their blue caps, and the coxswain dressed in a blue silk jacket and cap, had a very pretty effect of the water, while the fine forms and muscles of the crew showed to great advantage. In the meantime the London crew divested themselves of their outward garments, revealing their white and black colours, and after a short pull proceeded to their station in their boat The Little Em’ly. There was immediately a noticeable difference between the two crews.

When both crews were fairly afloat, the difference in the two crews was very marked

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The Londoners getting the best of the start, soon drew a clear length ahead, and in the next half-a dozen strokes took the water of the Southampton crew. The partizans of the London men shouted like madmen: “It’s all over, the countrymen are not in it.” But alas, their joy was but of short duration, for the Southampton men, who had now settled down to their work, were now rowing 43 strokes per minute, and were rapidly overhauling their antagonists. The Londoners again took their water, giving them a considerable amount of wash. Little Harold, the coxswain, steered the Test admirably, and kept out of harm’s way. The Southamptonians put on a splendid spurt, and gradually but surely began, foot by foot, to clear the Londoners. They were rowing completely within themselves, while it was evident that the London crew were all abroad. The Southampton crew continued pulling most manfully, and passed the West India buoy ay 2h 33m 15s, having done half the distance in a little over 18m. They were now rowing 40 strokes per minute.
The Thames crew were obviously struggling by now. Hammerton, their “stroke” was described as “dead as mutton”, labouring very hard, and the betting odds were beginning to change.
Finally the gallant crew of the Test passed the judge’s winning boat at 2h 50m 25s; thus winning easily by at least 50 boats’ lengths, being 1m 5s in advance of the London crew. The Southampton crew immediately returned to their boat-house at West Quay, as assisted to carry in their boat, not being in the least distressed, and looking fit to row over the course again. But when the London crew arrived at Mr. Payne’s yard they all appeared very much distress – more particularly Saddler, their “no 2”, who could scarcely walk.
The bells of St Michael and Holy Rood rang out merry peals in of the event during the afternooon.
The day was rounded off with an evening at the Theatre.
“They are a fine, honest, sober, and industrious set of young fellows, whom Southampton cannot but be proud of.”


Remembering Southampton's war day by day

See Air Raids, World War 2

19 October 1942
Robert George Diffey, a National Fire Service messenger, died in the Royal South Hants Hospital from injuries received earlier that day in Totton. He was 17 years old.


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Sotonopedia last updated 11 November 2022

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