A History of Rowing in Putney

Putney has a rich history in rowing and is home to some of the UK’s top rowing clubs including London RC, founded in 1856, and Thames RC, founded in 1860. These rowing clubs have trained and nurtured many World Champions and Olympians over the years including Sophie Hosking, gold medal winner in the 2012 Olympic Lightweight Double Sculls, Mark Aldred, who competed for the Lightweight Men’s Four in Rio, and Jess Eddie, who won silver in Rio with the Women’s Eight.

The tideway in Putney is host to a number of major international races including Head of the River Race and Women’s Head of the River Race, both of which attract hundreds of crews from around the world. But Putney is most famously known for one particular rowing event – The Boat Race.

First raced in 1829 and 1927 respectively, the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Races are amongst the oldest sporting events in the world and were originally raced in Henley on Thames. The men’s race moved to the current course on the Tideway in 1836 while the women continued to race in Henley where they wore cumbersome, full-length skirts and the first few races were not decided in a side-by-side contest but were judged on “time and style”; the two crews were not allowed on the river at the same time!

It was only in 2015 that history was made when both the men’s and women’s Boat Races, for the first time ever, took place on the same day and on the same stretch of water along the Thames in London.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 27: The Oxford crew compete during The Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race on March 27, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Every year, the Boat Race crews compete over the 4.2-mile course between Putney Bridge and Chiswick Bridge attracting television audiences from around the world. To date, the men’s competition has remained close with Cambridge leading Oxford by only a handful of points, whereas Cambridge Women currently lead Oxford by 43 to 30.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 02: General view prior to The Cancer Research UK Boat Race on April 2, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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