Swaddle & Winship

From Northern Rowing History
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Swaddle & William Winship were boatbuilders based at Scotswood, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne who gained a reputation for being amongst the top boatbuilders in the country. Thomas Swaddle had been foreman at Jewitt's Boatbuilders before setting up in partnership with William Winship. The exact connections of the individuals to rowing families is not known but certainly in the late 1860s and 1870s there was a well-known oarsman called Thomas Winship, from ‘a well-known Tyne rowing family’. Between 1869 and 1871 he was part of the ‘Tyne Champion Four’ with Jimmy Renforth, James Taylor and John Martin. Their most notable victory came in 1870 when they defeated the St John, New Brunswick crew, champions of North America, on Lake Lachine in Quebec.

In 1876, for the first time, Swaddle & Winship supplied the winning boat to the University Boat Race, used by Cambridge UBC. Oxford rowed in a Clasper boat.

Swaddle & Winship’s influence went further afield as many of their boats were sold abroad. The Australian Town and Country Journal of 17 September 1880 noted that ‘The cost of a Swaddle and Winship wager boat delivered in Sydney, would be about £30 (as the boat cost £18, the cost of delivery from Newcastle to Sydney was, presumably, £12). This information comes from Trove, a splendid online resource provided by the National Library of Australia consisting of a vast collection of digitised newspapers, books and images. Trove shows that Australian papers had many references to Swaddle’s boats taking part in numerous races in Australia (and in England) between 1876 and 1889. It was not just singles that were imported, in 1882 Melbourne Rowing Club had an eight sent over. These were their ‘glory years’ when the name of ‘Swaddle and Winship’ was respected not only on the Tyne and on the Thames but also on the Parramatta and the Yarra and, no doubt, on many other famous (and not so famous) courses throughout the rowing world.

23rd November 1893
The Newcastle Daily Chronicle reported:
LAUNCH OF RACING CRAFT - That sculling still exercises a potent influence on Tyneside was made manifest yesterday afternoon, when a very large company assembled at the Javel Group boatlanding in the Close to witness the christening ceremony in connection with the four boats built by Mr. Tom Swaddle, of Scotswood, the dimensions of which have already been given in these columns, for use in the forthcoming Christmas open-boat handicap, promoted by Mr. James Cook, of the Cannon Inn. Close, and Mr. Joseph Owen, of the Countess of Aberdeen Inn, Sandhlll, Newcastle. Amongst those present we noticed Mr. Lance Jobling of Swalwell, one of the oldest followers of the aquatic sport on Tyneside; Mr. Robert Stavers, of Newcastle; two ex-champion scullers of England in the persons of Harry Kelley, who is at present chief manager for Mr. Wm. Ritson, of the Hexham House, Newcastle; and George James Perkins. who is now making a name for himself as a manufacturer of pills and embrocation; Mr. Ralph Hepplewhite, of the Crowley Hotel, Swalwell; Mr. James Thompson, of the Ship Hotel, Cowpen Quay, Blyth; Mr. Wm. Brodie, of the Market Inn. Waterloo, Blyth; Mr. Leonard Huish, of Crofton, Blyth; Mr. William Davis, of the Railway Inn, Wallsend, Mr. William Ritson, of the Hexham House, Newcastle; Mr. Rob Potts, of the Cumberland Arms, Close; Mr. Tom Winship, of the Close; Mr. Robert Gowans, Phoenix Inn, Gateshead; Mr. & Mrs. Donkin, of the Queens Arms Inn, Gateshead; Mr. Tom Johnson, of the Rokeby Arms Inn. Scotswood Road, Newcastle; Mr. J. Curry, Captain of the Lumley Ferry Rowing Club; Mr. Hutchinson, Boatbuilder, Pipewellgate, Gateshead; Mr. George Swaddle, of Scotswood ; Mr. Joseph Bewley, of the Close. Previous to christening ceremony the boats were closely inspected and evoked nothing but words of commendation, and they certainty appear to be the best craft of the kind ever brought into use in a handicap of this description. The christening ceremony was performed by Mr T.J. Forster, the president of the Northern Rowing Club.