A NEW book by Henley River and Rowing Museum’s co-founder and historian aims to bring alive the story of the sport in the north east of England.
Bonnie Brave Boat Rowers by Chris Dodd, 72, has three strands running through it — rowing as a professional sport, innovative racing boat design and honouring oarsmen’s prowess in song for 100 years from the 1840s.
The book began life in the Eighties as a sample chapter for a book about the first 100 years of the Amateur Rowing Association, now British Rowing, but never made it to publication.
But when Roger Bean contacted the museum in 2012 for information about a professional sculler named Jack Hopper whose boat he was intending to restore, out came the forgotten manuscript.
Mr Dodd, who lives in Ancastle Green, Henley, said: “Bits of it have been talked about but basically it hasn’t all been pulled together.
“I think it’s sort of a forgotten world that has a lot of connections to the sport of rowing worldwide.
“My hope is that this book will refresh the story of rowing in the north east and encourage memoirs and artefacts to come out of hiding.”
The books sets out to recapture the lost world of the prestigious Christmas Handicap, to relive the immense following for the north-south rivalry in pursuit of world titles, to celebrate innovators whose revolutionary designs spread wherever boats were raced and to echo the minstrels who immortalised sporting champions in song in the music halls of Newcastle, Gateshead and the industrial North East.
Mr Dodd, who is also curator at the museum, said: “The River and Rowing Museum is the centre of rowing history and heritage for the world.That sounds very grand but what we’re trying to do is open the doors to the sport worldwide.
“That’s why it’s worth publishing these sort of things that are obscure corners of the mainstream story because they are important.”
Mr Dodd’s previous book, Pieces of Eight, told the story of coach Bob Janousek.
Mr Dodd appealed to the public to contact the museum if they had any artefacts or information in their possession. Email firstname.lastname@example.org