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August 2012

Posted on 01/08/2012

Rowing on the Cam, 1942



 BC PH/6/1/4/13    

Olympic fever has hit Royal Holloway this month as we welcome the rowing and canoe sprint competitors to the satellite village at the lower end of campus. Helen Glover and Heather Stanning’s outstanding performance to bring home Great Britain's first ever women’s Olympic rowing gold medal, and the team’s first gold of this meet, has inspired this month’s item from the archives.

The photograph shows the Bedford College rowing eight on the River Cam in Cambridge in 1942. The College boating club was founded in 1890 and Bedford students were said to excel in sports, particularly lawn-tennis and rowing. The girls would practice on the lake in Regent’s Park and compete in races with other students.

There are several photographs of students rowing in the archives but I’ve picked this one because it looks so atmospheric with the mist in the background evoking a cold wintery morning on the river. Despite the fact they’re braving the chill in shorts, the girls look keen and excited for the off, a brilliant demonstration of their enthusiasm for their sport.

Bedford College was based in central London but during the Second World War all students were evacuated to Cambridge to continue their studies away from the danger of the Blitz. Although some of the girls felt Cambridge was too slow paced after the hustle and bustle of Regent’s Park, they must have enjoyed the increased opportunities for rowing practice!

Find out more about the history of the two colleges which make up RHUL here:

Annabel Gill, College Archivist


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