The Rowers of Vanity Fair/Fogg-Elliot CT

Fogg-Elliot, Charles ThurstonEdit

“Fogg” (Spy), March 22, 1894Edit


Unlike most ‘Varsity oars he does not come from Eton, but reflects credit on Durham School, where he first learned to pull under the winged words of Mr. R.H. Poole; who had himself gone through the mill at Oxford before he rowed bow of the Dark Blue Eight fourteen years ago. From Durham he went to Trinity Hall in the October term of 1890, got into the Cambridge Eight at No. 7 in the year following; sat on the same thwart for two years, was “promoted” to No. 3 last year, and rowed at No. 6 on Saturday: whence it is clear that he can row on either side of a boat. On the Cam he has won the University Fours and Pairs, and he has also rowed at the Head of the River; though last year, as Captain of the Hall Boat Club, he rowed in the second boat and suffered bumps. At Henley, too, he has had his successes, having helped to win the Visitors’ for his College, and rowing No. 3 in the high class Leander Eight which carried off the Grand Challenge last year. Having achieved so much he was very properly chosen President of the Cambridge University Boat Club, when Mr. G.C. Kerr, of Trinity (also, oddly enough, a Durham man), left that pinnacle of aquatic fame vacant last summer. For he is generally held to be both a good oar and a good fellow.

He is a very strong young man, whose hair and moustachios are as white as his face is sometimes red; and, like most of our strong young barbarians, he is quite a good-tempered fellow. He is known as “Fogg,” and he is a puzzle; for it is impossible to tell where his forehead ends and his nose begins. Yet is he quite a popular boy, who is not nearly so fierce as he often looks. He was only beaten last Saturday because the Oxford crew were better than his own.

He has occasional flashes of dry humour; and he thinks that he can wrestle.

After this appearance in Vanity Fair, Charles Thurston Fogg-Elliot (1870-1955) completed his rowing career by racing for Trinity Hall in the 1896 Grand. After university, he became secretary to Lords Barnard and Curzon, Curzon noting that Fogg-Elliot’s taciturnity and flowing yellow mustache made him seem “like of forlorn Viking.” In the 1914-18 war he was Captain in the Fourth Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.

Henley 1893: A Woodgate SamplerEdit


From about 1890 to 1906, W.B. Woodgate previewed and dissected the Boat Race and Henley Regatta for Vanity Fair. Here is one of his full Henley reports, from July 13, 1893:

A very thirsty Henley! Seldom, if ever, have more fluids been consumed on the course. On the third day even Leander were run out of mineral waters soon after 5 p.m. Houseboats were rather fewer. The very proper concession of Oxon frontages to some of the London Clubs has reduced the space available for houseboat moorings. In my opinion, every houseboat or owner thereof that advertised “to be let for the regatta,” after having obtained the favour of an anchorage, should be rigidly refused any entrée to the course in future. These moorings are dispensed to enable certain subscribers to the regatta to enjoy their holiday and to entertain, if they desire to do so. They are not given that they may be turned into cash by sub-letting. I hope the Conservancy will see to stopping this abuse in the future.

The throng on the river was great just before and after lunch each day and mostly so on Friday. I deprecate the current fashion of punt paddling when carried to any pace in excess of one and a-half miles in the hour. A punt holds a good deal of momentum, especially when laden with three or four damsels and their swains lounging on cushions in her. She is not under control like a boat handled with sculls: paddles cannot back water nor hold her sharply when collision is imminent. At the same time, the resource of paddling from the stern of punts or skiffs has great charms for the tyro. It looks easier, and is easier, to a beginner, than the manipulation of sculls in a crowd. Hence the superabundance of this mode of propulsion on regatta days. All sorts and conditions of land-lubbers loaf on the river at a modern Henley Regatta. Thirty years ago, when there was not one-sixth of the present fleet of pleasure craft, it was considered bad form to figure in a boat unless fully competent and up to racing class (at the regatta).

One piece of bad form has, I am glad to see, almost wholly vanished during the last four years -- namely, the display of coloured flannel coats (called “blazers”), pertaining to no recognised aquatic Club, still less to any Club that competes at Henley. Lawn-tennis jackets of an abnormal medley of colours, village cricket Club coats, etc., were for a season or two recently flaunted on the Reach by land-lubbers. Now they are properly scouted, and those who do not belong to contending Clubs wear plain mufti flannel jackets.

N.B.-- The old term “blazer” was applied only to a few of the more gorgeous College boating coats -- e.g., Lady Margaret, Magdalen, Balliol, Exeter; more sober jackets like those of Jesus (Cambridge), Trinity Hall, Pembroke Oxon, Dublin, the U.B.C.’s, Black Prince, and University College, each and all time-honoured on the course, were not so styled. When lawn tennis begat “Joseph coats” in every village nook, then the term “blazer” was snapped up and extended to these monstrosities.

The rowing was a very good standard in every entry. Leander were far ahead of all the Eights. They won the final heat of the “Grand” only half extended by London. London had beaten Thames with some ease, and Thames had disposed of the French crew. Black Prince was not in it, and Dublin, after a fast and gallant start, were equally left behind in their heat against Leander. Many had thought that a Cantab No. 7 might row “scissors” to an Oxford stroke; but Kerrison suited Kent well, and behind these two the rest of the men settled down to a mighty sweeping swing that carried all before it. The crew never once really galloped after halfway; had they done so, probably records would have been cut. As it was to win in 6 min. 56 sec. at a paddle from the head boat of Oxford (Magdalene) was a large order; and Magdalene had in their crew six “Blues,” two of them re-inlistments since the College races. The change of stroke, putting Guy Nickalls there, improved the Magdalene Eight in the last week; but they had not the all-round strength of Leander, nor were some of the men so long in the reach and swing, but untidy in finish, which hampered them. They improved much after they left their own storm-tossed tideway and reached smooth water. Another ten days, if they could have remained in England, would have made them very formidable for the Metropolitan Regatta.

London were second best; a good long reach forward, no bucket, and a ‘Varsity swing. Their fault was the feather under water; had they rowed as clean as Leander they might almost have won, for they were in better condition. One or two Leander men needed another fortnight’s training. Thames had some weak spots among their new hands, and though the general style was good, they had to lose their heat against their old rivals, London.

The "New Course" (1886 - 1922) from the 1893 program)

The Stewards’ Fours were a good lot -- either Thames or Chester good enough to win in many a season; but Magdalene were too good for all of them. The outcry against Thames for boring the Frenchmen in their heat was only excusable under the impulse of chivalry to visitors. No sane man who has seen Thames R.C.’s performances year after year ought to have dreamed of supposing that a bit of bad steering inferred foul play. The T.R.C. are too thorough sportsmen for any such game. Anyone may make an error in the heat of a race. The sportsman who shoots behind a hare or under a rocketer, and tailors his game for the nonce, might as reasonably be accused of blundering on purpose. Besides, with a competent umpire, lynx-eyed, in his wake, it would always be insanity for even an evil-disposed pilot to go out of his way to foul. If the race had been between two British crews, no one would have heard another word of the affair. The French style was quite British, and rather Oxonian; the French eight was about the stamp of a College crew halfway up the Oxford river. The men were weaker all round than most of their opponents, and not fully together. They would have made a good bid for the Thames Cup, and should about have won it; but as a matter of sport it was more correct and more plucky for them to fly at the highest game. Their four was better class than their eight; better together, cleaner, and speedier of its sort. The Frenchmen show that they appreciate the right principles of rowing. Some day, if they get stronger men and better together, they may turn the tables on us. Their boats are very well built, and fast.

Eton were a very hot crew, better than many of the Grand crews. Radley rowed exceedingly well, but had not the strength and age of the Etonians. It was a big order for the two boy crews to beat the various College crews, including the head of the Cam, in the way that they did. The pick of these two boy eights are going to Oxford, so it is said; which ought to make it rosy hereafter for the O.U.B.C. at Putney.

Third Trinity were a good College four, and well earned the Visitors’ Cup. Medway made a good début and a bold bid for the Wyfold. Their stroke’s recovery and finish might well be copied by many of the crack crews. Molesey just beat them; but the two crews were well ahead in merit of the rest of their field. In the Pairs, Fletcher and Vivian Nickalls were facile principes much the stronger; for style nothing was better than the Ford and Holland pair. Guy Nickalls had an easy win in the Sculls. Everyone appreciated the sportsmanlike manner in which he pulled up for a restart with Boyd, the Dublin sculler, when the latter had jammed his slide and stopped for repairs. Boyd and Kennedy, each in his turn, spread-eagled good opponents, but could make no headway against the resurrectionised ex-Oxford sculler, who seems to be as good an oar as ever -- may be even better.

There has been in certain journals a grumble against Leander and the composition of their crews, based upon the assumption that they monopolise all the talent, and so leave to other Clubs no material wherewith to win a Grand Challenge. Now, of last year’s winning Leander (Grand) crew, three of the best men were this year rowing for Magdalene, and another for New College, while Leander men were to be found in every crew of note. Each and all of these rowed for their College (or other) Clubs in priority to Leander; and the latter Club had to make up its team from what resources were left to it. That those remaining resources were strong is due to the prestige of the Club, which secures such a pick of membership.

Leander is not a “nursery” Club. It does not profess to educate oarsmen. Herein it differs essentially from University and from tideway Clubs, which teach the tyro ab ovo. Whereas the first rule of Leander is that the qualifications for admission to its pale are “good fellowship and proficiency in oarsmanship.”

Until an oarsman has graduated and has well earned his spurs, he is not even eligible for the Club. It is this principle which secures so much competition for admission to the Leander fold. The uniform is of itself a “diploma” in oarsmanship.