The Tyne Regatta of August 1843


A few months back TWAM acquired an interesting group of items relating to one of the early Tyne Regattas, held in August 1843.

Items from Tyne Regattas of 1843 and 1844

Silver cup and results sheet from regatta of 1843 with programme of 1844


For a modest sum we purchased a silver cup that was awarded to the winner of one of the sailing races, together with a results sheet for the regatta and two programmes for the following year’s event.

Results sheet for Tyne Regatta 1843

Detail from Results sheet for Tyne Regatta 1843 TWCMS : 2011.2634

The cup is undoubtedly the star item. It was made by the London silversmith Francis Crump in around 1770, so it was already about 70 years old when it was offered as a prize at the 1843 Regatta.  

'FC' - Maker's mark of Francis Crump

'FC' - The mark of silversmith Francis Crump on the base of the cup

The Tyne Regatta of 1843 was a huge social and sporting event arranged for Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th August. Tents were erected on the sands at both North and South Shields and the band of the 37th Regiment played to the crowds from within Cliffords Fort in North Shields. Fireworks were set off from a moored Keel in the Narrows on Monday night and on the Tuesday night there was a ball at the Golden Lion Inn, South Shields.

There was a mix of races for amateurs (“gentlemen”) and professionals (anybody who wasn’t a “gentleman”). Most were rowing races and the professional classes were dominated by Harry Clasper and his brothers. One of the skiff races was contested exclusively by Claspers after two other entrants withdrew. Harry Clasper won and was followed home by Edward, Robert and William! There were three races for sailing boats, one of which was “for open sailing Pleasure Boats, not exceeding 18 feet over all, managed by gentlemen”. The prize for this race was a Silver Cup and Sweepstakes of half a sovereign from each entry. After a hard fought contest among nine boats the race was won by Anthony Ford Stafford and his crew, G Thomson and J Robb, in Stafford’s boat Venus.

Silver Cup won by Anthony Ford Stafford at the Tyne Regatta 1843 - before conservation

Silver Cup won by Anthony Ford Stafford at the Tyne Regatta 1843 - before conservation

The silver cup was passed down through the family until, earlier this year, Antony Ford Stafford’s great niece decided it was time to return it to the Tyne.

Silver cup engraved with the names of the winning boat, VENUS, and her owner, A F Stafford

Silver cup engraved with the names of the winning boat, VENUS, and her owner, A F Stafford

I’m delighted that we now have the cup in the TWAM collections. It will soon be on display in a Heritage Lottery funded exhibition we are working on for Discovery Museum in 2012, Home and Away – North East Sport and the Olympics.

9 Responses to The Tyne Regatta of August 1843

  1. Rob Cree says:

    What a lovely cup Ian… and another great story about rowing in NE… Well done on your acquisition! Best, Rob

  2. tony says:

    hello ian,
    i was hoping that you might have information about a silver cup called the grand theatre cup that was last awarded in 1939.
    i think it was last won by the byker rowing club based near the high level bridge.

    kind regards


    • Ian Whitehead says:

      Hi Tony
      Thanks for your comment
      I’m afraid I know nothing of the Grand Theatre Cup, nor anything about Byker Rowing Club. If you live locally and want to look for an account of the 1939 victory, then I suggest you visit Newcastle City Library and search through the Newcastle Chronicles for the year. However, unless you have a more precise idea of the date it may be a long job. I’ve put your question to other local rowing history enthusiasts and if I receive any information back I’ll let you know.

      All best wishes


  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Ian

    Do you know anything of an Alec Hodges. He won the Tyne Boat Handicap in the early 1900’s, apparently winning 100 hundred gold sovereigns ! He also later rowed in Putney.

    I have a book written by Alec Hodge’s nephew where Alec is mentioned. You may be interested in the book itself as it is a fascinating diary of “life aboard a destroyer in the Great War “. The author served on HMS Sarpendon including being present when the German fleet surrendered at Scapa Flow. It tells of life in Gateshead at the turn of the century. Also life as a sailor , including being operated on at home , near Coatsworth Road, on the kitchen table for a cyst on the eye caused by pressure from a telescope when reading flag and semaphore signals !
    Please let me know if you would be interested in reading it.



    • Ian Whitehead says:

      Hi Rebecca

      I haven’t been able to find Alec Hodges in the list of Tyne Christmas Open Boat Handicap winners. The closest I can come is Alex Barclay who won the 1901 Open Boat Handicap. £100 is about right for the first prize of that time though. I suppose Alec Hodges could have won a big race on the Tyne that was not the Christmas Handicap?

      I would be interested in reading the book about the nephew’s time aboard HMS Sarpedon and life in Gateshead at the turn of the century.

      I’ll e-mail you separately from this response.

      kind regards


      • Kirsten Scott says:


        I am Rebecca’s sister.
        Alec Barclay is our relation. Hodges was his sisters married name.
        Alec is our great great great uncle.
        My son has just started rowing at the Tyne rowing club

        Kind regards
        Kirsten Scott

        • admin says:

          Hi Kirsten
          Thanks for getting in touch and adding this useful information. Ian Whitehead has retired from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums now but I will endeavour to pass your information on to him as I’m sure he’ll be interested.

        • William Barclay says:

          Hi Kirsten,
          I have already replied to you, but I pressed the wrong button and it might have been wiped out, so I’m trying again. I’m Alec Barclay’s grandson. I would be grateful if you could get in touch with me as I have been doing Family History for a while, but there’s a lot of things missing which I’m hoping to fill in.

  4. Peter W Skevington says:

    Interesting article; I am involved with a project that is looking at the depiction of the North East working class in visual arts, my particular brief is those iconic rowers Chambers, Clasper and Renforth. I would be interested in availability of photos, catalogue etc of the “Oarsome” Exhibition held at Shipley Art Gallery c2002/2003. Is there any way of contacting David Clasper, the author of a book about Harry Clasper?

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