Regatta Stream Stories

Reading Amateur Regatta - Reading RC vs WSV Düsseldorf Rowing Race

A special rowing race will be held at the 2022 Reading Amateur Regatta between:

Reading Rowing Club (1867)


Wasser-Sport-Verein Düsseldorf (1893)

Saturday: 1500m - Masters 4x
Sunday: 1000m - Mixed Explorer 4x+

Both Races during the lunch interval at around 12:45pm

Mmm, not quite clear who won the Saturday Race!

“It is only when we understand heritage that we can enable athletes to create history”

After a few years away Reading Amateur Regatta is back. In 2019 we had a fantastic regatta with crews coming from all over the UK, The United States of America, Ireland and even New Zealand. 2022 should be no less special and we are so excited to be back. 2022 will be the 180th anniversary of Reading Amateur Regatta (1842). It is more than just a regatta, it is part of Reading's history. 2022 is also the 75th anniversary of Reading Düsseldorf Association and also 200th anniversary of Huntley and Palmer’s biscuit factory. At the end of last year one of our committee members asked if Reading Amateur Regatta could help out with the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Reading Düsseldorf Association. The committee was delighted with the suggestion.

The story of Phoebe Cusden is very important within the history of Reading and it is a story that resonates as well today as it did then. Phoebe Cusden (then Mayor of Reading), answered a call from the Royal Berkshire Regiment for help for people who were hungry and homeless following the war. Phoebe sent help and invited six children to stay. A return visit followed, and a regular annual exchange of young people in both directions developed. There then followed a growing number of visits by orchestras and sports clubs and there have been numerous celebrations to commemorate the major anniversaries. The Reading Amateur Regatta 1842 Committee knows just how important sport can be in bringing communities together. It contacted Reading Düsseldorf Association and asked if it knew any of the rowing clubs in Düsseldorf. As luck would have it, the Membership Secretary of Reading Düsseldorf Association knew WSV Düsseldorf because one of her family members used to row there. And so a series of Challenge matches between Reading Rowing Club (1867) and WSV Düsseldorf (1893) was devised. WSV Düsseldorf rows more in explorer style boats than racing shells. As a result, the challenge match on Saturday will be in the faster racing shells over the 1500m course and on the Sunday will race the 1000m course in explorer boats.

It is only when we understand heritage that we can enable athletes to create history. The finish line of Reading Amateur Regatta has always been in Caversham Court Gardens. There is a plaque in the ground that holds the finish post. The very first race of the very first regatta was won by Mr H Simonds Junior. This family used to live at Caversham Court and was the family that dominated the brewing industry in Reading. So when The Friends of Caversham Court Gardens contacted us to ask if it could hold a reception for the visiting WSV Düsseldorf crew we were delighted. We think that it is so important that sports events remember their heritage. We know that it is the historic sporting events that athletes really want to win. It is these events where those athletes want to break records.

We could not run Reading Amateur Regatta without the help of the volunteer British Rowing Umpires. This year as a thank you present, we will give the umpires a special tin. We know how important the tins were in allowing Huntley and Palmers to grow. We also know that one of the first biscuits that Huntley and Palmer’s made were ginger biscuits. Alas, we could not find the actual original recipe for those biscuits, but we have a fairly good idea of what they were like. As a result, the umpires will find in their tin a pack of specially made ‘Reading Ginger Shortbread’ biscuits. These biscuits are made locally by a baker on ‘our’ stretch of the river. In fact, if the umpires on the start raft can smell baking, then it will be coming from that baker.

The Committee would like to say a very big thank you to every helper and particularly the army of helpers from Reading Rowing Club, every athlete, every coach, every parent, every grandparent, every spectator, all the residents of the the town, and all of the Reading Borough Council workers that manage it, for allowing the junior crews (the future of our sport) to develop and race in Reading. Thank you for giving masters crews the opportunity to show that they can still race whatever their age. Thank you for being part of an organisation that allows crews from all round the world and this year in particular our visiting crews from Düsseldorf to race on ‘our’ stretch of the River Thames. Thank you for being part of the history of Reading Amateur Regatta established in 1842.

The Committee