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2016 · ISSUE 5



The Briefest History of OD Rowers

Between 1902 and 1924, three ODs

rowed in the University VIIIs: George

Drinkwater (OD 1894), Robert Bourne

(1901) and Patrick Mallam (1909).

Hugh (Jumbo) Edwards (1919) shone

in the 1930s, taking part in five

University Boat Races and winning gold

medals in the IVs and VIIIs as well as two

gold medals in the USA Olympic Games

in 1932.

OD involvement in the University

Boat Race continued. In the 1940s, John

Clay (1940) rowed for Oxford. In the 60s,

Edward Johnstone (1950), Nicholas Tinne

(1953) and Lesley Henderson (1957) took

part, with John Clay (1968) rowing several

times in the 70s. In the 90s, Ben Smith

(1999), Kajsa McLaren (1993) and Alec

Dent (2002) competed for Oxford and

Colin Swainson (1991) and Henry Adams

(1993) for Cambridge.

David Callender (1943) competed in

the 1952 Olympics and John Clay (1968)

won an Olympic silver in 1980. In 1996,

Stephen Ellis (1981) took part in the

Atlanta Olympics while Tom Middleton

(1989) rowed in Sydney in 2000. In

addition, Humphry Hatton (1975) won

a bronze at the Commonwealth Games

in 1986.

Anastasia Chitty (2007), studying

Medicine at Oxford, is now President of

the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club

and was in the winning Ladies’ VIII of

this year’s Boat Race. Will Geffen (2008),

studying Chemistry at Keble College,

rowed for Oxford this year and is Vice

President of the Oxford rowing team.

Currently, Frances Houghton (1993)

is a four-time World Champion and

two-time Olympic silver medallist. She is

aiming to compete in her fifth Olympic

Games in Rio next summer and her most

recent achievement was winning a gold

medal in the Ladies’ VIII in the European

Championships in Brandenburg this year.

*All dates in brackets are OD leaving dates.

1989 Parni’s final crew at The Dragon. From left back row: Jonathan Young (Malvern College), Mark Powys-

Smith (Radley J14/J15), Simon Cadbury (Eton-won U14 scullls), Mike Tew ( Oratory J14/J15 colts) ), James

Beale (J11 winner Pangbourne). Middle on bench: Giles Beale (St Edwards School boatman ), Hugo Machin

(Captain Boats and Cricket), Julian Hall (Radley Boatman), James Beale (J11 winner Pangbourne).

Front row: William Wittingham; Chris Ruddock, Ben Wilson, Charles Russell (St Edwards School J14 IV)

1960 The Dragon Barge by River Cherwell

by Bernard Gotch watercolour

In the 1950s rowing at the Dragon took off under the direction of David Parnwell (Parni),

who taught Latin, Science, English and Geography as well as coaching rowing until 1989.

Tim Crane took over from Parni in 1989, moving on in 1998. Michael Righton arrived

in 1997 and coached until 2005. Finally, Marcus Walker joined in 2005 to strengthen the

tradition. Marcus moves on to Oundle at the end of this year, leaving Dragon rowing in

fine fettle. He will be much missed.

Today the Dragon hosts its own regatta for pupils on the Cherwell River with 190

scullers and some 80 races. The annual Parnwell Cup is awarded to the best sculler of the

year, just one of several cups and awards.

Many Old Dragons continue to row in their

public school’s 1st VIIIs. ODs have won the

Princess Elizabeth and Temple cups at Henley

Royal Regatta. A number have gone on to row at

Ivy League universities on rowing scholarships.

Some have become coaches. There are Varsity

athletes from Oxford and Cambridge – men and

women; university presidents, British Empire

Games and Commonwealth Games athletes and,

recently, GB J16 Anglo-French gold medallists,

Coupe de la Jeunesse, Junior Worlds, GB Under

23s, Youth Olympics and Senior World athletes.

The Dragon can’t claim all the credit; the

variables are too great. It is more than chance

however and the Dragon has played its part.

Categorised with Activities and Clubs,

rowing has challenges to face if it is to continue

to produce international potential for the

future. Our current aim is to maintain the

Squad, Activities and Club sessions at the

height of the season and get 180-250 ‘bums

on seats’ in the summer.

The Dragon sculling staff aims to capture the

children's imagination, to inspire them to want

to wear the squad sculling kit and to emulate

what has been achieved in one of Britain’s most

successful Olympic sports.

The Dragon School Boat Club team are

committed to allowing every child the chance

to fulfil their dreams on the water and strive to

produce some of the best athletes that we can.

As the poet Shane Leslie described:

Though my nose be red and my fingers blue

I come to the river and sink my name and become

One eighth of an eight oared crew.

We do….

Marcus PWalker,

Master in Charge, Sculling


April 2016