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Eights Week 1914

One hundred years ago in May 1914, Eights Week saw one of University College Boat Club’s greatest moments, when we bumped Christ Church, Magdalen, and New College, to go Head of the River. We would not go Head again until 1990.

The crew was coached for its success by Christopher Tinne, of  whom more below. Tinne had been a Rowing Blue himself, but had not been part of the 1914 Blues boat. Rumour had it that some Magdalen rowers had kept him out, so he had time to plan to get his own back on them over the summer.

Fortunately, we have a superb photographic record of those exciting days, because one member of the crew, William Todd-Naylor, compiled a fine photograph album of those days, and his album was generously presented to the College by William’s nephew Christopher Barford. A full description of the photograph album is given among our online catalogues.

Eights Week 1914

William Bryan Todd-Naylor

William Bryan Todd-Naylor had come up to Univ in 1912, having previously been at Harrow, and was reading History. He had already been a member of the First Torpids of 1913 and 1914, and the Second Eight of 1913.

The whole crew was as follows:

  • Myles Matthews (Bow) came up from Eton in 1911, and was JCR President for 1913/14. He was reading Law.
  • Arthur Donne (2) came up from Bradfield in 1912, and was reading Classics. He had got a Third in Mods the previous term.
  • William Todd-Naylor (3).
  • Alexander Bailward (4) came up from Winchester in 1913, and was reading Law.
  • Alan Cope (5) came up from Rugby in 1910, and was reading Classics. In fact he sat his Finals that term. With all his rowing activities, perhaps it is not wholly surprising that he only got a Fourth.
  • John Llewellin (6) came up from Eton in 1912, and was reading Law.
  • Christopher Tinne (7) was another Etonian, who had come up in 1910, and was reading Chemistry. He also sat his Finals that term, but at least got a Third. He had been JCR President in 1912/13.
  • Charles Rowlatt (Stroke) was the fourth Etonian in the crew, coming up in 1913, and he was reading Classics.
  • James Clapperton (Cox) came up from Magdalen College School in 1913, and was another Lawyer.
  • The photos in William’s album were all taken by professional photographers of the day. During the actual races, there would have been a clutch of photographers clicking away, and then on the morning after, we must imagine William and his friends visiting the photography shops, looking at the sample prints on sale, and selecting the ones to go in their own albums.

What follows, then, are some of the images which William specially selected as a memento of his great rowing week.

Members of the crew walking along the river to the Univ Barge. From left to right: unknown, William Todd-Naylor, John Llewellin, Myles Matthews, Charles Rowlatt and Alexander Bailward.

The crew about to set off from their punt.

Tinne’s revenge: Univ bumps Magdalen on 22 May. Christ Church and New College would follow on successive days.

The last evening of Eights Week 1914: a suitably rapturous reception for the crew at the Univ Barge.

The crew with the Head of the River Trophy. Back row, from left to right: Bossom (College boatman), Arthur Donne (2), Alexander Bailward (4), and William Todd-Naylor (3). Sitting on the back of the sofa: Charles Rowlatt (Stroke). Front row, from left to right: John Llewellin (6), Christopher Tinne (7), Myles Matthews (Bow), and Alan Cope (5). On ground: James Clapperton (Cox).

Meanwhile the rest of College joins the crew to pose for a photograph before going into the Hall for a grand Head of the River dinner.

In looking at these photos from May 1914, we today know only too well what would happen in Europe just a few months later. But what happened to our victorious First Eight and their cox? Thanks to old issues of the University College Record, a roll of honour published immediately after the war, and the research carried out by James “Dusty” Miller, our former Head Porter, into our war dead, we know something of what happened next.

The information below tells the stories of this crew.


The First VIII of 1914: What Happened Next

Published: 13 May 2014

Further selected Univ Treasures are detailed below or explore the whole collection on our News and Features Treasures pages.

Published: 13 May 2014

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