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RICHMOND AMATEUR REGATTA

Saturday 24th June 2017

 

RICHMOND REGATTAS - PAST AND PRESENT

The story of Regattas at Richmond, situated on one of the loveliest stretches of the Thames, goes back at least to 1735 when a Regatta was held in front of Ranalagh Gardens. Comment was made in the press that in the early days of Thames Boat Racing, Richmond was a favourite stretch.

 

In 1776, we read that "A Regatta was celebrated on the River Thames between Richmond and Kew in honour of the Prince of Wales' birthday. Their Majesties, and all the rest of the Royal Family were present and received by all ranks with the greatest marks of Affection and Respect: but excepting the number of boats and the crowds of people the show afforded little diversion. In the evening some very curious fireworks were displayed on an ait on the River Thames which had a very fine effect."

There are many mentions of this "professional and amateur" Royal Regatta in local reports towards the end of the century. The occasions were handsomely patronised by the Aristocracy and programmes were sometimes printed on silk. Always there were fireworks to crown the day, and plenty of music from Regimental and other bands. In 1881, the patron was His Serene Highness the Duke of Teck, and one prize was - how good it sounds - "A purse of Sovereigns." In the 1897 Regatta, which included swimming races with prizes of 6d and l/-, there was an Open Race for tradesmen resident within three miles of Richmond - Prize One Guinea.


Regattas have since come and gone and until 1965 there used to be a series of Boxing Day Regattas. In 1950, the Borough of Richmond celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. Among the many festivities held to mark the occasion, the Regatta was resuscitated and encouraged by the local council. Alderman Fred Gaines (Mayor 1950/51) with a number of river enthusiasts "took up the oars." Besides a programme of rowing events, there was an illuminated Procession of Boats, also a Beauty Queen Contest and Dancing on the lawn of Buccleuch Gardens. It was so successful that the Regatta became an annual occasion.

However, in 1973, through lack of financial support, the Regatta was abandoned but in 1974 it was back in the calendar and proved to be one of the best Regattas ever held at Richmond. The event was made viable by a substantial grant from Richmond Parish Lands Charity, and was sponsored by St. Georges Taverns Limited, who not only provided the prize one pint tankards but all the entertainments.

Today, Richmond rates as one of the largest Regattas on the River Thames with over hundred and fifty entries each year and attracts over a thousand spectators during the day. The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has cause to be proud of its Regatta.

 

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