St George’s Ladies Rowing Club

All of the material on this page comes from an album compiled by Barbara Innes to record the history of St George’s Ladies RC which was presented to Twickenham RC following the clubs’ merger. Twickenham entrusted it for safekeeping to Christine Maddox, a former Captain of St George’s and Vice-President of Twickenham RC, who in turn donated it to the library at British Rowing headquarters where it remains. It is reproduced here with the enthusiastic support of Christine and of Di Ellis, and the permission of British Rowing.

St George’s Ladies RC, founded October 1924, held an inaugural dinner at the Boulogne Restaurant on 7 February 1925. Two of the founder members, Miss Addy Ash and Mrs Winnie Browne (née King), remained with the club as Vice Presidents until it ceased to function, and a third founder member, Mrs Charlotte ‘Billie’ Wyndham Fewings, was an active member and president until her death at the age of 71. The club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner dance at the Star and Garter Hotel, Richmond on 12 October 1974.

The club’s headquarters were at Tom Green’s boathouse, Barnes Bridge, where the facilities were very primitive. All boats, with fixed rowlocks, were hired, a four costing 3/- for an hour’s outing, plus 4d for a boatman. Members’ subscriptions were 10s 6d per annum. In the early days a ferry (rowed by Bob Dowson) operated between the Surrey bank and the boathouse. The cost for the crossing was 2d. The club remained at Green’s boathouse until 1937 when it moved to the Civil Services boathouse.

The club acquired its first boat in the early 1930s when a second-hand coxed shell four was purchased from Eton College for £20. After the war the club made real progress in building up a good stock of oars and sculls and a fleet of boats consisting of new shell and clinker eights, coxed shell and clinker fours (both of which could be adapted for use as quad scullers), a tub pair and a coaching launch. The club was also well euipped with ancillary equipment such as loud hailers, speaker equipment for an eight and weights for land training.

Over the years St George’s LRC has had notable successes internationally and nationally, some of which are listed below:

1929: Evie Kirton as the first English woman international, won a 1,200m sculling race at an international regatta on the river Vistula, Warsaw, Poland.

1930: Thirza Innes won the National Sculling Championship when she broke the record for the Putney to Mortlake course. Her time of 25 minutes 25 seconds stood until 1948.

1938: Three St George’s members (Thirza Innes, Barbara Innes and Joan Henwood) were in the squad of nine from which a IV+ [and reserve] was selected to represent England in the Australian Championships and regattas an Brisbane, Hobart and Melbourne. Barbara Innes coxed this crew which won all its races in Australia. [In the end only Barbara went on the trip along with Eleanor Lester, Violet Cyriax,  Phyllis Taylor, Gladys Barnes and Elsie Matthewson – Ed.]

1951: Julie Johnson and Eve Bailey were selected to row in a composite VIII to represent Great Britain in the European Championships, Macon, France. [Strictly speaking, they were representing England not GB and the event was just an ‘international regatta’ rather than an official European Championships although it was one of FISA’s ‘test events’ which led to the inauguration of European Championships for women. More on this here – Ed.]

1966: A St George’s eight was selected to represent Great Britain in the European Championships, Amsterdam, Holland. [You can read more about this in the report on 1966 – Ed.]

1971/2: On 26 April 1971 Sylvia Cook, a member of St George’s LRC, left San Francisco in Britannia II to row the Pacific with John Fairfax. They arrived at Hayman Island, Australia on 22 April 1972, 363 days after leaving San Francisco.

1972: A coxed four won gold medals at the first National Championships held at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham. The same crew represented England in the Home Countries International, Lake Blessington, Dublin where they also won.

1973: Coxed fours won silver and bronze medals at the National Championships.

In 1972 the club moved from the Civil Service boathouse to the new Hounslow Borough Council boathouse which had been built at Chiswick next door to the old Green’s boathouse. Constantly rising costs made it impossible for the club to continue there and arrangements were made to join Sons of the Thames RC at Hammersmith. This move proved disastrous. The boats were put in store [Bill Colley kindly housed the two eights and two fours at his workshop behind the Rutland for free – Ed.] and for nine months the club was without headquarters, during which time a number of members joined other clubs in order to continue active rowing. In May 1979 Twickenham Rowing Club formed a ladies section when the club accepted the remaining members and equipment of St George’s LRC on a two-year trial basis. This trial proved to be successful and St George’s LRC ceased to exist as an active club.

St George’s Original Four

The first St George's LRC crew

Bow – Norah Bailey, 2 – Owen Taylor, 3 – Billie Fewings, stroke – Winnie King, cox – Addy Ash.

Charlotte Wyndham Fewings

Charlotte ‘Billie’ Wyndham Fewings

St George's Ladies Rowing Club

Thirza Innes, Billie Fewings, Margery Innes, Norah Bailey

Tom Green's boathouse

The same crew getting ready to boat at Green’s boathouse.

More early crews

Women's rowing in the 1920s

[Club kit had been developed. Note that the lady on the left is holding a cigarette! – Ed.]

Richmond Boxing Day Regatta 1927

Richmond Boxing Day Regatta 1927. From left: Vera Baker, Owen Taylor, Norah Bailey, Thirza Innes, Winnie King.

St George's LRC with mascots

Members of the club with mascot – Rhoda Reynolds [presumably this refers to the young girl rather than her doll? – Ed.]

St george's club blazers

Norah Bailey, G Taylor, Vera Baker, Thirza Innes and Winnie King. [Club kit having now been extended to blazers! – Ed.]

Women rowers

Thirza Innes, Evie Kirton, Owen Taylor, Margery Innes.

Boat naming by Bert Barry

Bert Barry christening Thirza Innes’ sculling boat ‘George’. Also in the foreground: Bob Dowson and Tom Green, 1929.

Club Regatta

Club regatta at Green’s boathouse, Barnes Bridge, 1929.

Sculling Champions

Evie Kirton, sculler

Thirza Innes

Thirza Innes, National Champion 1930.

Bourne Eights in 1933

St George's LRC win

St George’s win.

Crew with trophies

From top left: Peggy Roberts (2), Barbara Innes (bow), Kay Ley (6), Marjorie Harris (3)m Peggy Shaw (4), Beatrice Stratford (5), Doris Bowers (7), Jean Henwood (stroke), Thirza Innes (cox). [The tiny trophies were typical of women’s rowing at the time which lacked the history to attract donors of more impressive silverware – Ed.]

More crews

Women rowing

Connie Kimber, Thirza Innes, Barbara Innes, Cissie Lubich, D Parr.

Barnes and Mortlake Regatta 1936

Barnes and Mortlake Regatta 1936: Thirza Innes receiving the Senior Fours Cup (left) and Barbara Innes receiving the Senior Sculls Cup.

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Jean Henwood, Barbara Innes, Gladys Peer, Margaret Jamieson, Martha Wright.

St George's LRC members relaxing

Jean Henwood, Barbara Innes, Thirza Innes, Margery Jamieson.

Australia trip 1938

English rowing crew for Australia

The final selection [outside Civil Service boathouse]: Barbara Innes, Eleanor Gait, Elsie Matthewson, Violet Cyriax, Gladys Barnes, Phyllis Taylor.

Australian rowing tour 1938

England crew after winning Australian Championship at Sydney, 16th April 1938.

Post-war crews

Barbara Innes

Barbara Innes, Senior sculler.

Women's coxed pair

Shirley Radley, Eve Bailey and Carrie Harrington with Les Hefford, boatman.

St George's LRC socks

Thirza Innes, Barbara Innes, Tony Moore, Valerie Raymond, Eva Long. [This is the first picture of the red and white striped St George’s LRC socks which continued to feature for the rest of the club’s existence – Ed.]

St George's LRC 25th Anniversary

Billie Fewings being congratulated on the club’s 25th anniversary, 1949.

Lady Fletcher was a rowing patron

Crew with Lady Fletcher after winning the Lady Fletcher Eights.

Macon 1951

The composite eight that raced at Macon in 1951. St George’s members Julie Johnson and Eve Bailey are 3rd and 4th from the right.

Lady Fletcher Eights

Second Eight after winning the Lady Fletcher Eights 1954 with Bill Peer, coach.

Women's four

Cox – Barbara Innes, stroke – Shirley Radley, 3 – Julie Johnson, 2 – Eve Bailey, bow – Lena Chandler.

Rowing at Rotherhithe

Demonstration at Rotherhithe 1953 on the inauguration of Rotherhithe Rowing Club’s Ladies’ section. Bow – Carrie Harrington, 2 – Jean Harrison, 3 – Julie Johnson, stroke – Eve Bailey, cox – Shirley Radley.

Racing in 1955

The winners of Junior/Senior Fours at Barnes and Mortlake Regatta in 1955. Helen Johnstone, Marion Bond, Tina Wallace, Pat McEldowney, Julie Johnson.

St George's Ladies rowing

Stroke – Shirley Radley, 7 – Carrie Harrington, 6 – Eve Bailey, 5 – Julie Johnson, 4 – Pat Hill, 3 – Pauline Fordham, 2 – Jean Harrison, bow – Lena Chandler.

Rowing at the Serpentine in 1958

Serpentine Regatta 1958. Bow – Audrey Muggleton, 2 – Ruth Butler, 3 – Pat McEldowney, stroke – Julie Johnson, cox – Ann Bridger. Crew victorious over Sport Nautique Compiegneois Ladies Club  (French Champions).

St George's LRC

Ruth Butler, Sheila Lambert, Ann Crewdson, Una Scott, Maureen Talbot.

At Civil Service boathouse

At Civil Service boathouse 1964. From left: Jan Dapp, Gillian Morley, Angela Fortesque, Joy Williamson (Kenny), Carole Beechey, Terry Osborne (Collins), Pam Skeggs (Sutton), Sally Russell, Linda Tappin.

1965

Val and Pauline width=

Valerie Thomas and Pauline Meikle.

Squad

Pam Skeggs, Pam Brown, Valerie Thomas, Gillian Rosenthal, Elaine Steckler, Jacqui Woodward, Pauline Meikle, Diana Hall, Terry Osborne.

Members of St George's Ladies RC

Valerie Thomas, Jacqui Woodward, Pauline Meikle, Pam Brown, Sally Russell.

St George's LRC

Gillian Rosenthal, Elaine Steckler, Diana Hall, Jacqui Woodward, Valerie Thomas, Pamm Skeggs, Pauline Meikle, Pam Brown.

Crew members

Pam Brown, Pauline Meikle, Valerie Thomas, Jacqui Woodward, Elaine Steckler, Gillian Rosenthal, Barbara Innes, Sally Russell, Pam Skeggs, Diana Hall.

St George's members

Pam Skeggs, Gillian Rosenthal, Elaine Steckler, Diana Hall, Barbara Innes.

Di Ellis

Di Hall – later Di Ellis.

Warm up on land

Land training prior to an outing.

Warming up

More land training.

Pam Brown, oarswoman

Pam Brown.

HHT winners

The winners at the Hammersmith Head Trials – overall and Clinker division.

St George’s represent Great Britain at the Women’s European Championships in Amsterdam, 1966

Training at Weybridge

The crew at Weybridge prior to departure.

St George's represent GB

From left: 3 – Alicia Arthur, bow – Pam Skeggs, stroke – Diana Hall, 5 – Jacqui Woodward, 2 – Gillian Rosenthal, 6 – Pauline Meikle, 7 – Elaine Steckler, 4 – Valerie Thomas, cox – Barbara Innes.

GB women's eight 1966

The crew at the Bosbaan, Amsterdam with Bob Dowson and John Cork.

Bosbaan

At the Bosbaan [with a somewhat different crew order from that indicated in the previous photo – Ed.]

Bob Dowson and John Cork

Bob Dowson (left) and John Cork with a Russian coach.

Bill Peer and Val Thomas

Presentation to Bill Peer, Coach by Valerie Thomas, Captain.

More club crews

Walton Regatta 1967

Final at Walton Regatta 1967 against De Vliet Holland. Controversial verdict of one foot given to the Dutch crew.

St George's boating at UL

The St George’s Elite four boating from the University of London boathouse at Chiswick.

St George's coxed four

Bow – Elaine Steckler, 2 – Valerie Thomas, 3 – Jacqui Woodward, stroke – L Harmsworth, cox – Di Ellis.

Hammersmith Head 1968

First eight winning Hammersmith Head Trials, 1968.

WARC Head 1968

First eight returning to the boathouse after winning the Women’s Head, 1968.

WARC Head

Second eight competing at the Women’s Head, 1969.

Bedford Head

First eight winning the Bedford Head, 1969.

Racing at Bedford 1969

Winners of Junior Fours at Bedford Ladies’ Regatta, 1969.

Bedford Ladies Regatta 1969

At Bedford: Bow – Isobel Dominy, 2 – Penny Duttson, 3 – Doris Butcher, stroke – Pam Joseph, cox – Di Ellis.

Club display

Club display at River Festival, Hammersmith, 1969. Penny Duttson, Barbara Innes, ?, Jackie Gurteen, Pauline Meikle, Joan Rapaport, Isobel Dominy, Doris Randewich, Pam Joseph.

Sylvia Cook – the first female ocean rower

Sylvia Cook in a St George's 4+

Bow – Elaine Steckler, 2 – Sylvia Cook, 3 – Christine Maddox, stroke – Valerie Austin, cox Di Ellis (out of shot): winners of Junior/Senior Fours at Bedford Regatta, 1970.

Party

Farewell party for Sylvia Cook on the eve of her epic row across the Pacific Ocean with John Fairfax, 1971. Doris Butcher, Valerie Austin, Gillian King, Janis Long, Sylvia Cook, Enid Guyett, Isobel Dominy, Pat Judd, Jean Dennistoun, Daphne Faulkner.

Sylvia Cook

Sylvia Cook.

John Fairfax and Sylvia Cook

John Fairfax and Sylvia Cook.

Sylvia Cook rowing the Pacific

Sylvia still on her way across the Pacific.

Naming boats in the 1970s

Boat naming

Double sculler christened in the name of Gladys ‘Brownlie’ Peer, 1971. From left: John Peer, Christine Peer, Julie Johnson, Barbara Innes, Elaine Steckler, Christine Maddox.

Naming Julie

Christening of shell four ‘Julie’ by Julie Johnson 1972. From left: Julie Johnson, Barbara Innes, June Stuart.

Naming the new boat Julie

Margaret Goodsman, Ann Shackell, Janis Long, Liz Walch, Jean Dennistoun, Agnes Morrell, June Stuart, Sue Couldwell, Julie Johnson.

Boat naming

Julie Johnson, Janis Long, Beryl Mitchell, Ann Shackell, Barbara Innes, June Stuart.

First outing of new boat

Stroke – Ann Shackell, 3 – Margaret Goodsman, 2 – Beryl Mitchell, bow – Ross Somner, cox – Barbara Innes.

Winners of the gold medal for Coxed Fours, National Championships, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, 1972

National Rowing Championships 1972

Coach Bill Peer putting the crew afloat.

Nat Champs 1972

Crew rowing up to the start.

St George's crew 1972

Janis Long (bow), Beryl Mitchell (stroke), Margaret Goodsman (3), Ann Shackell (2), Di Ellis (cox).

Crew and coach

The crew with their delighted coach.

Representing England in the Home Countries International Regatta in Coxed Fours, Lake Blessington, Dublin, 1972

St George's Ladies Rowing Club 1972

From left: Beryl Mitchell, Mike Rosewell (Team Manager), Bill Peer (Coach), Ann Shackell, Janis Long.

Prize giving

Crew receiving their prizes.

England W4+ 1972

Winning crew: Ann Shackell, Margaret Goodsman, Di Ellis, Beryl Mitchell, Janis Long.

St George's represent England

Once more with a delighted coach, Bill Peer.

Celebrating the end of a successful season 1972

St George's members at a party

Janis Long, Isobel Dominy, June Stuart.

St George's members at a party

Julie Johnson, Margaret Goodsman, Beryl Mitchell.

St George's members at a party

Barbara Peer, Caroline Dowdall, Valerie Austin.

St George's members at a party

Valerie Austin, Jean Dennistoun, Ann Shackell.

National Championships 1973

Photo finish at the National Championships 1973

St George’s crews win silver and bronze.

W4+ silver 1973

Silver medallists: June Stuart (bow), Liz Walch (2), Margaret Goodsman (3), Beryl Mitchell (stroke), Di Ellis (cox). Bronze medallists: Agnes Morrell (bow), Jean Dennistoun (2), Caroline Dowdall (3), Marie Verstraeten (stroke), Janis Purchase (cox).

W4+ bronze 1973

The bronze medallists.

Final years

Stourport Regatta 1973

Winning four, Stourport Regatta 1973. June Stuart, Brenda Sharman, Sue Couldwell, Ann Shackell, Agnes Morrell.

Boat naming

Christening restricted sculling boat ‘John Parnham OBE’ 1974 outside Chiswick Boathouse. Marie Verstraeten, Beryl Mitchell, Janet Cansick, Caroline Dowdall, Barbara Peer, ?, Bill Peer.

Barbara Peer and Bill Peer

Presentation to Barbara and Bill Peer, 1974, at Chiswick Boathouse.

Hammersmith Amateur Regatta

Winning eight at Hammersmith Amateur Regatta, 1975. Maureen Thompson, ?, Janet Cansick, Liz Walch, Ann Uren, Toni Cann, Margaret Latham, also in crew, Agnes Morrell.

St George's at the HOR4s

Head of the River Fours, 1975. Stroke – Beryl Mitchell, 3 – Agnes Morell, 2 – Liz Walsh, bow – Margaret Latham, cox – Di Ellis. [Beryl had competed for GB at the World Championships that summer – Ed.]

Since 1979

The surviving members of St George’s continue to meet each year for a lunch on or close to St George’s day.

The photo below shows their gathering to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the club in 1994 to which members travelled from as far away as Switzerland. At the time, those who were still working hard to help further women’s rowing included Ann Southey (née Shackell) a founder member of Henley Women’s Regatta; Margaret Adams, Chairman of HWR; Agnes Morrell, secretary of HWR; and Di Ellis, Chairman of the ARA.

1994-St George's 70th anniversary

1994 70th anniversary lunch. Bill Peer, with Barbara to the right of him, are seated at the table. (Photo © John Shore.)