The 161st race was today. It has been annual since 1856, except for 1915-19 and 1940-45. All except the first have been rowed in London. Oxford have won 79, Cambridge 81, 1877 was a dead heat. History. List of results.
The first report in The Times was on April 4 1839 after the third race; the Cambridge win, by 35 lengths, was the strongest in the entire series; Melbourne (Trinity, Cambridge) was prime minister:
“Off the penitentiary” refers to Millbank Prison.
“Searle laid down the winning boat; King, of Oxford, that in which the vanquished pulled.” Laid down means designed or built. Searle was a London boathouse. It is mentioned earlier in the piece.
April 16 1840: “It is not a little refreshing to the real lovers of old English sports and manly exercise to find these sorts of amusements beginning to supersede the swindling, dangerous and absurd practice of steeple chasing – things merely got up by publicans and horsedealers to pillage the unwary and enrich themselves.”
Many races are on Pathé, including some of the unofficial wartime ones in the ’40s, which were held outside London and aren’t in the record. Here are the 1939 crews: