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
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
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.
Master in Charge, Sculling