This is a collection of memories of the history of CCCBC. It is compiled of stories from Friends as well as from the Pelican Record.    


1833:  John Peard (Exeter) built Corpus their first Four.

“1833 was the first year when little Corpus (as it then was) ever had a four on the river; and when the time for the
first race arrived they had neglected to provide themselves with a flag. It was ruled that they would not race without some sort of flag, so one of the crew produced a red pocket handkerchief, which was allowed to do duty not the nonce”. (PR Vol VI p72)    

1834-35: Head of the River

Crew: Giles, Brown, Slight, Pears, Renaud (cox)    

“Old Isis has seen in the year that is past
The little red rag at the top of the mast.”

Pears (Poet Laureate)    

1837: Corpus had its first VIII

“at all events Pears had no choice, the whole college being pretty well on board” (George Hext)    

“Poor old Exeter will Blush a deeper red still,
When she finds little Corpus is creeping ahead;
And the Johnian crew
Grow a ghastlier blue
When they find what a deuce of a dance they are led.”

George Hext (Poet Laureate)    


On racing: “In those days boats that came out of the Lock together, raced as a matter of course, and the centre enabled the cox to stand near the bow, ram his boat hook into the lock-gates and run back treadmill fashion to
his seat, securing a good impetus for the start” (George Hext)    


No Corpus boat except a joint one with Magdalen (“Caudlen”)    

G Hext: “I always held that rowing and reading go well together. The boat gives the health, and never wasters the time
of the reading man. Success on the river with us meant success in the Schools”.    


JF Young (Captain 1860) “In the Lent Term of the year 1858 the Corpus Christi College Boat Club was re-established at Oxford, owing to the praiseworthy and indefatigable exertions of three members of CCC viz
Messrs Arthus Carr, Richard Foster and Lewis Pugh Evans.”    


“We were rowing second at the time and No. 3 (D P J Evans) lost his oar out of his hand, and broke the string of his thowl. Unable to recover it, he gallantly jumped into the water and swam ashore; the rest of the crew rowing pluckily to the end.”   


Torpids – finished 2nd on river, perhaps owing to their strict diet:

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1868: Corpus carries off Varsity Head Cup

On the last day of Eights we were rowing head and were apprehensive of being bumped by Exeter. “To prevent this we started off with a much quicker stroke than we had before, and as the crew rowed all together in perfect time and with a splendid catch we never allowed them to gain an inch upon us, and the eight of the smallest college or even hall on the river rowed in head on the last night of the races and thus carried off the “Varsity Challenge Cup for 1868”    

1885: Corpus goes Double Head (Torpids and Eights)   


“The first week of training was interrupted by severe weather, during which the river froze below the Gut, and anything more than tubbing was out of the question on Friday and Saturday. A thaw soon set in and on Wednesday
in the next week the boat went for a long journey, accompanied by a large cavalcade of horsemen and runners…”. 


“fortunately it was just possible to row the final before the floods turned the whole of the meadows below Iffley into one enormous lake”. 


“The real reason why we were not successful this year was that we were treated as a better crew than we really were, and not enough attention was paid to the elementary principle of leg shoving” (123). 


Corpus was one of 3 colleges to enter “Varsity Fours” – Sinclair and Marsden of the “4” were picked up in Trials and were in the winning Blue boat.    

Late 1800s:

Robert Bridges (Poet Laureate 1913-1930) was Captain of CCCBC.    

Early 1900’s

Often it wasn’t possible to get a straight Torpid out, and instead Corpus entered a Togger (Rugby Torpid).    


“In a small college like Corpus, where all oarsmen are home-made, it takes three years to get together an experienced boat…”    


Corpus gets a College Barge.    

Now: Although it is no longer owner by Corpus, it is moored nearby down towards Donnington Bridge; it used to be student accommodation in the 1990s, but I believe it was freezing in winter.  Not to be confused with St. John’s College barge, moored down at Sandford. 

1931: Corpus went Head of River at Torpids   

Bow: B.G Bourdillon
2:       J.P Kent
3:       C.P.E.Hawkesworth
4:       J.W. Setten
5:       D.C. Quin
6:       E.S. Jackson
7:       I.K. MacAlaster
Str:    C.G.W. Blathwayt
Cox:  W. Merchant    

1978: CCCWBC founded and wins Blades   

The Boat: the shell we ended up sharing with the men’s eight during Eights Week. This was “the Great Grimsby,” a lovely, light boat much cherished by the men, and which they, through the year, refused to let the women use, because they were convinced we would wreck it.  We had to row a clinker called “the Pelican” instead.  Well, we complained to the SCR, who eventually ruled that the women should be allowed to use the boat.  During one of the first days of Eights, the men wrecked the Grimsby and everyone ended up having to use the Pelican!  The women triumphed with five bumps nonetheless, and were treated to our supper at High Table, with much celebration.” (Pat Rae)    

Pat Rae on Women Rowers:
“College will be very different now, I’m sure, but back then the prevailing view wasn’t at all confident that admitting women had been a good thing, let alone admitting a bunch of women who built up their muscles and ran around all the time in stinky sweat-suits!  So — the Bump Supper of 1978 was quite a significant moment in the history of the college, I think, in that everyone came and celebrated the women — and all of this can be credited to Leo, really.”    

Susan Rae on coxing: 
“The crew was half comprised of Blues and Half-Blues, several of whom were very tall and very strong. On the second day of Eights, as we were putting the boat in the water to go for our third bump (we’d got two on the first day), some wag from John’s boathouse next door shouted ‘Sex test!.    

Having coxed the women’s Blue boat in Hilary term, my voice was in very bad shape by Trinity.  It had dropped several tones and I could only project by speaking in a monotone.  I was studying for my DPhil in Old Norse sagas, and I had put together a ‘Norse curse’ from some strands of Norse poetry.  In rough translation, it went something like this:  
May this ship speed beneath us as if it has all the winds of the world behind it.  Let us take the example of wolves!   

At the start of each race, immediately after the one minute gun, I would shout this curse in Old Norse with my terrible
rasping, monotone voice.  Apparently our boat developed something of a reputation for this war cry.  After Eights Week, I was told by one of the rowers in the Linacre crew (our third bump) that their cox had said to them, just before the race, ‘I don’t care what you do, just get me away from that voice!’  Needless to say, they failed!    

The same Linacre cox was also rather disastrously unwilling to admit defeat at our hands.  We powered up very quickly behind them, and I was expecting a swift acknowledgement, but no hand went up.  I shouted (that terrible
voice again) ‘Acknowledge cox!’  several times, but with no result. By that time, we had significant overlap, with our bow rigger just behind their rudder.  In a moment of swift judgement, I shouted ‘Pull on hard two and four’, so that the front edge of our bow rigger hit their rudder and knocked it off.  I then applied our rudder hard to stroke side to pull our bows away and prevent them being damaged on the Linacre boat.  Needless to say, their cox’s hand shot up when he realised he had no steering gear left!”


“Further to the reference to the Corpus Challenge – I believe that the first erg competition at the Corpus Challenge was actually in Trinity 1991, when Cambridge visited Oxford. Having beaten them on the river a challenge was raised between the Cambridge Captain and me as the Oxford Captain over 1000m. I’m pleased to say Corpus Oxford won easily in a time a little under 3.10 as I recall.” (Antony Asquith)