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
Bow – Norah Bailey, 2 – Owen Taylor, 3 – Billie Fewings, stroke – Winnie King, cox – Addy Ash.
Charlotte ‘Billie’ Wyndham Fewings
Thirza Innes, Billie Fewings, Margery Innes, Norah Bailey
The same crew getting ready to boat at Green’s boathouse.
More early crews
[Club kit had been developed. Note that the lady on the left is holding a cigarette! – Ed.]
Richmond Boxing Day Regatta 1927. From left: Vera Baker, Owen Taylor, Norah Bailey, Thirza Innes, Winnie King.
Members of the club with mascot – Rhoda Reynolds [presumably this is the name of the young girl rather than her doll? – Ed.]
Norah Bailey, G Taylor, Vera Baker, Thirza Innes and Winnie King. [Club kit having now been extended to blazers! – Ed.]
Thirza Innes, Evie Kirton, Owen Taylor, Margery Innes.
Bert Barry christening Thirza Innes’ sculling boat ‘George’. Also in the foreground: Bob Dowson and Tom Green, 1929.
Club regatta at Green’s boathouse, Barnes Bridge, 1929.
Thirza Innes, National Champion 1930.
Bourne Eights in 1933
St George’s win.
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.]
Connie Kimber, Thirza Innes, Barbara Innes, Cissie Lubich, D Parr.
Barnes and Mortlake Regatta 1936: Thirza Innes receiving the Senior Fours Cup (left) and Barbara Innes receiving the Senior Sculls Cup.
Jean Henwood, Barbara Innes, Gladys Peer, Margaret Jamieson, Martha Wright.
Jean Henwood, Barbara Innes, Thirza Innes, Margery Jamieson.
Australia trip 1938
The final selection [outside Civil Service boathouse]: Barbara Innes, Eleanor Gait, Elsie Matthewson, Violet Cyriax, Gladys Barnes, Phyllis Taylor.
England crew after winning Australian Championship at Sydney, 16th April 1938.
Barbara Innes, Senior sculler.
Shirley Radley, Eve Bailey and Carrie Harrington with Les Hefford, boatman.
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.]
Billie Fewings being congratulated on the club’s 25th anniversary, 1949.
Crew with Lady Fletcher after winning the Lady Fletcher Eights.
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.
Second Eight after winning the Lady Fletcher Eights 1954 with Bill Peer, coach.
Cox – Barbara Innes, stroke – Shirley Radley, 3 – Julie Johnson, 2 – Eve Bailey, bow – Lena Chandler.
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.
The winners of Junior/Senior Fours at Barnes and Mortlake Regatta in 1955. Helen Johnstone, Marion Bond, Tina Wallace, Pat McEldowney, Julie Johnson.
Stroke – Shirley Radley, 7 – Carrie Harrington, 6 – Eve Bailey, 5 – Julie Johnson, 4 – Pat Hill, 3 – Pauline Fordham, 2 – Jean Harrison, bow – Lena Chandler.
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).
Ruth Butler, Sheila Lambert, Ann Crewdson, Una Scott, Maureen Talbot.
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.
Valerie Thomas and Pauline Meikle.
Pam Skeggs, Pam Brown, Valerie Thomas, Gillian Rosenthal, Elaine Steckler, Jacqui Woodward, Pauline Meikle, Diana Hall, Terry Osborne.
Valerie Thomas, Jacqui Woodward, Pauline Meikle, Pam Brown, Sally Russell.
Gillian Rosenthal, Elaine Steckler, Diana Hall, Jacqui Woodward, Valerie Thomas, Pamm Skeggs, Pauline Meikle, Pam Brown.
Pam Brown, Pauline Meikle, Valerie Thomas, Jacqui Woodward, Elaine Steckler, Gillian Rosenthal, Barbara Innes, Sally Russell, Pam Skeggs, Diana Hall.
Pam Skeggs, Gillian Rosenthal, Elaine Steckler, Diana Hall, Barbara Innes.
Di Hall – later Di Ellis.
Land training prior to an outing.
More land training.
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
The crew at Weybridge prior to departure.
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.
The crew at the Bosbaan, Amsterdam with Bob Dowson and John Cork.
At the Bosbaan [with a somewhat different crew order from that indicated in the previous photo – Ed.]
Bob Dowson (left) and John Cork with a Russian coach.
Presentation to Bill Peer, Coach by Valerie Thomas, Captain.
More club crews
Final at Walton Regatta 1967 against De Vliet Holland. Controversial verdict of one foot given to the Dutch crew.
The St George’s Elite four boating from the University of London boathouse at Chiswick.
Bow – Elaine Steckler, 2 – Valerie Thomas, 3 – Jacqui Woodward, stroke – L Harmsworth, cox – Di Ellis.
First eight winning Hammersmith Head Trials, 1968.
First eight returning to the boathouse after winning the Women’s Head, 1968.
Second eight competing at the Women’s Head, 1969.
First eight winning the Bedford Head, 1969.
Winners of Junior Fours at Bedford Ladies’ Regatta, 1969.
At Bedford: Bow – Isobel Dominy, 2 – Penny Duttson, 3 – Doris Butcher, stroke – Pam Joseph, cox – Di Ellis.
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
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.
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.
John Fairfax and Sylvia Cook.
Sylvia still on her way across the Pacific.
Naming boats in the 1970s
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.
Christening of shell four ‘Julie’ by Julie Johnson 1972. From left: Julie Johnson, Barbara Innes, June Stuart.
Margaret Goodsman, Ann Shackell, Janis Long, Liz Walch, Jean Dennistoun, Agnes Morrell, June Stuart, Sue Couldwell, Julie Johnson.
Julie Johnson, Janis Long, Beryl Mitchell, Ann Shackell, Barbara Innes, June Stuart.
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
Coach Bill Peer putting the crew afloat.
Crew rowing up to the start.
Janis Long (bow), Beryl Mitchell (stroke), Margaret Goodsman (3), Ann Shackell (2), Di Ellis (cox).
The crew with their delighted coach.
Representing England in the Home Countries International Regatta in Coxed Fours, Lake Blessington, Dublin, 1972
From left: Beryl Mitchell, Mike Rosewell (Team Manager), Bill Peer (Coach), Ann Shackell, Janis Long.
Crew receiving their prizes.
Winning crew: Ann Shackell, Margaret Goodsman, Di Ellis, Beryl Mitchell, Janis Long.
Once more with a delighted coach, Bill Peer.
Celebrating the end of a successful season 1972
Janis Long, Isobel Dominy, June Stuart.
Julie Johnson, Margaret Goodsman, Beryl Mitchell.
Barbara Peer, Caroline Dowdall, Valerie Austin.
Valerie Austin, Jean Dennistoun, Ann Shackell.
National Championships 1973
St George’s crews win silver and bronze.
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).
The bronze medallists.
Winning four, Stourport Regatta 1973. June Stuart, Brenda Sharman, Sue Couldwell, Ann Shackell, Agnes Morrell.
Christening restricted sculling boat ‘John Parnham OBE’ 1974 outside Chiswick Boathouse. Marie Verstraeten, Beryl Mitchell, Janet Cansick, Caroline Dowdall, Barbara Peer, ?, Bill Peer.
Presentation to Barbara and Bill Peer, 1974, at Chiswick Boathouse.
Winning eight at Hammersmith Amateur Regatta, 1975. Maureen Thompson, ?, Janet Cansick, Liz Walch, Ann Uren, Toni Cann, Margaret Latham, also in crew, Agnes Morrell.
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.]
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 70th anniversary lunch. Bill Peer, with Barbara to the right of him, are seated at the table. (Photo © John Shore.)