A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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Newmarket Heath, for three centuries the headquarters of English flat-racing, (fn. 1) owes its position partly to the capacity of its chalk downland to provide extensive courses of elastic turf over smooth and open ground for both racing and training (fn. 2) and partly to the accident of royal favour. James I, impressed on a visit in 1605 (fn. 3) by Newmarket's fitness for his favourite diversion of hunting, selected that town, like Royston, as a centre for pursuing the sport. In 1608 he acquired a house there which was rebuilt as Newmarket Palace, (fn. 4) and spent many weeks hunting there each winter, drawing numbers of courtiers and officials to his retreat. (fn. 5) Charles I also visited Newmarket, although less regularly, for his winter hunting between 1627 and 1638. (fn. 6) Newmarket was thought the sweetest place and air in the world for hunting, hawking, coursing, or horse-races. (fn. 7) The first recorded horse-race near Newmarket was c. 1613, when the scarcity of lodgings in the town compelled many courtiers to stay at Linton near the other end of the course. (fn. 8) The king himself attended a horse-race at Newmarket in March 1619, (fn. 9) and matches between courtiers, on which substantial sums were staked, are recorded from the early 1620s. (fn. 10) By 1632, a 'gylden cup' was established for which there was in 1634 a 'general course of the running horses', to conclude the races. (fn. 11) The loss of royal patronage after 1640 did not at once destroy racing at Newmarket. Races were held there in November 1652 and November 1653, (fn. 12) but from 1654 all racing was frequently forbidden for six months to prevent Royalists from using racemeetings as places at which to assemble in insurrection. (fn. 13)
Racing at Newmarket revived with the restored monarchy. The royal palace and stables, sold in 1650 and much dilapidated, were repaired, (fn. 14) and Charles II was already expected there in October 1660. (fn. 15) Races were re-established by March 1663, when the duke of Monmouth attended them. (fn. 16) From 1666 the court regularly visited Newmarket twice a year, in March or April and in October, giving the Newmarket season its later framework. (fn. 17) By 1676, meetings at those times were recognized institutions; and the king and the jockeys would gather at the end of the year's sport to arrange matches for next season. (fn. 18) Although the court's recreations at Newmarket ranged from fox-hunting, cock-fights, and foot-races to such indoor pastimes as cards and gaming, (fn. 19) horse-racing was the sport peculiar to Newmarket, which was also becoming a centre for training horses. Charles II established there a permanent stable controlled by his Keeper of the Running Horses, (fn. 20) and in 1670 Evelyn passing over the Heath saw 'the jockeys breathing their fine barbs and racers and giving them their heats'. (fn. 21) So, although the running of horses at Newmarket was confined to a small circle of owners, mostly noblemen and members of the royal household, its races commanded wider interest. In October 1670 many thousands of people watched one great match, (fn. 22) and in 1680 visitors so crowded the little town, that people of the best quality had to share their bedchambers with unknown strangers. (fn. 23) The same year, John Nelson, who kept the register of proposed matches and bets, offered for 2s. 6d. to supply persons living far from London with copies of his lists. (fn. 24) By 1693 the rules of Newmarket against foul riding were quoted in those for a plate in Hertfordshire, (fn. 25) and, under Queen Anne, Newmarket's practice was cited as authoritative in a lawsuit about a bet. (fn. 26) Betting was already important at Newmarket under Charles II. The register of matches was kept in the office of the Groom-Porter who had charge of the court's gaming tables. (fn. 27) Two or three thousand pounds were wagered on a single match in 1675; (fn. 28) and from the 1670s the road to London was haunted by highwaymen eager to relieve successful gamblers of their winnings. (fn. 29)
Newmarket's rules and customs were well developed by the 1660s. It had a fixed terminology; established officials in the clerks of the course and of the race who held the stakes, supervised the running, and looked after the track; a regular routine for entering and scratching horses, and for weighing and starting; and some rulings on exceptional cases. Undetermined problems were referred to the judgement of the noblemen and gentlemen contributing to a prize, (fn. 30) or sometimes to the decision of the king himself. (fn. 31) The only recurring races, at Newmarket as elsewhere, were those for plates of up to £100, open only to gentlemen riders. The first one recorded at Newmarket, later called the Town Plate, was founded in October 1665. (fn. 32) By 1674 it was complemented by another at the spring meeting, (fn. 33) and in 1680 there were separate plates for stallions, and for geldings and mares. (fn. 34) Each competitor subscribed £1 for that year's winner and £3 towards the next year's prize. In the Town Plate the prize was supplemented by a rent from land. (fn. 35) At that period prizes were actually given in the form of plate. In 1669 Lord Roos had won two great candlesticks at Newmarket, and in 1671 Charles II won the 'flagon of 32 price'. (fn. 36) The plates were run for in three heats of 4 miles each, followed by a 'course' run off between the winners of the heats. The intervals required for rubbing down and resting the horses enabled a single contest to provide a whole afternoon's sport. (fn. 37)
The larger part of Newmarket racing, however, consisted of matches between individual horses, although even those were not at first very frequent. Only 16 matches were expected in October 1681. (fn. 38) In October 1683 James, duke of York, noted with surprise that there were more races than he could remember at any meeting, no day being without one and some days having two or three. (fn. 39) In 1698, however, there were only 12 matches, on seven days between 7 April and 4 May, although the king himself was there. (fn. 40) The lighter weights recorded for matches, 8½ to 10 stone in 1681, 8–9 stone in 1698, (fn. 41) compared with the 12 stone usually prescribed for the plates, (fn. 42) suggest that trained grooms were already employed to ride them. In 1669 a visitor saw the riders in a match wearing their masters' colours. (fn. 43) Matches also involved higher stakes than plates, ranging from £100 to £500, and occasionally rising to £1,000. Some peers c. 1700 might put up to £2,000 on a single race. (fn. 44) Because of emulation and since not many good horses were available, so that even plates seldom drew more than four or five entries, the same horses raced against one another repeatedly at short intervals. When Lord Wharton beat Lord Roos in 1698, Roos, because his jockey had not fulfilled his directions, insisted on running the race again within 15 minutes, and won. (fn. 45)
The usual distance for races was 4 miles, though matches over 6 and even 8 miles were not uncommon. (fn. 46) At the closing stages of the race the spectators, gathered on horseback near the Running Gap, rode in behind the runners to see the finish, at which the winner was greeted with drums and trumpets. (fn. 47) The original Long Course was 8 miles long, running from near the Fleam Dyke, through the Devil's Ditch at the gap made for the ancient Street Way, to the edge of the town, where by 1678 a stand, later called the King's Stand, had been built. On the first half, there stood at every mile starting posts with rubbing-houses, one commemorated in the name of Six Mile Bottom. The last 4 miles, north of the road to Cambridge, became the Beacon Course, normally used for matches. (fn. 48) About 1665 the Round Course, 3 miles 6 furlongs long, of rhomboidal shape, was laid out for the newly founded Town Plate, to bring the starts and finishes of the heats conveniently close together. (fn. 49) Later the Duke (of York)'s Course, running across from the Round Course start into the Beacon Course, provided another four-mile course for matches, starting nearer the town. (fn. 50) The courses were already marked out in the 1660s with white flagged posts. (fn. 51)
Newmarket's pre-eminence in racing was temporarily threatened after the great fire there in March 1683. (fn. 52) Charles II had already in March 1681 adjourned the plate to Burford, for easier access from the Parliament at Oxford, (fn. 53) and considered transferring his patronage to a meeting on the Hampshire downs near his projected palace at Winchester. (fn. 54) He eventually continued visiting Newmarket as well, but James II gave his countenance to the Winchester races, (fn. 55) and no meeting at Newmarket after 1685 is recorded until April 1688, when a plate of £100, raised by contributions, was once more run for. Another of £80 was advertised for October 1688, and a further £60 plate added in 1689. (fn. 56) These 'gold tumblers' were run for twice yearly until 1691. The widespread interest in them appears from the choice of the London banker Richard Hoare to receive the stakes. (fn. 57) William III occasionally spared time from campaigns and politics to visit Newmarket: (fn. 58) in April 1698 he brought the new French ambassador to a crowded meeting, to entertain him with races and cock- fights while discussing the Spanish Succession. (fn. 59) Anne regularly attended the races from 1705 until her husband Prince George died in 1708. (fn. 60) It was probably from William III that Newmarket received the first royal plate of £100 out of the Privy Purse, intended to encourage the breeding of strong horses with staying power, and therefore confined to gentlemen weighing 11 stone or more. A similar plate, for weights of 14 stone, was instituted in 1699 but soon dropped. (fn. 61) In 1706 Prince George added to the Queen's Plate of 100 guineas another of 100 guineas for mares carrying 10 stone. (fn. 62)
The organization of Newmarket racing was probably assisted by the long career of Tregonwell Frampton, 'the oldest and cunningest jockey in England'. He was a heavy better, £900 deep on a match in 1675 on an income of £120 a year. (fn. 63) He was also the first to make owning and training horses at Newmarket his profession, and the only commoner to run them frequently there in the early 18th century. Between 1708 and 1727 he was engaged in 97 matches there. (fn. 64) William III appointed him c. 1694 Keeper of the Running Horses, with an allowance of £100 for each horse in training at Newmarket, and the king's horses usually ran in Frampton's name. He held the office until his death in 1727, (fn. 65) and was succeeded by Thomas Panton, in whose family it became a sinecure until its abolition in 1784. (fn. 66)
Royal enthusiasm, though not formal royal support, departed from Newmarket with the Stuarts. The Royal Plates were still given, and later increased to three. (fn. 67) George I, seeking popularity in rivalry with his son, attended some meetings in 1716–18 and 1722, (fn. 68) but George II was there, briefly, only in 1728, (fn. 69) and the palace was leased in 1721 to the duke of Somerset. (fn. 70) Ascendancy at Newmarket was passing from the court to the aristocracy. Between 1708 and 1719, of about 430 entries in Newmarket races, 340 were made by Frampton and eleven peers, including seven dukes, mostly Whigs. (fn. 71) Because the meetings were no longer centred on royal visits, they also began to extend over longer periods. Thus the spring of 1720 saw 26 matches spread over 22 days between 10 March and 24 May, and the autumn 51 matches, between 20 September and 5 November. Most were still matches over distances of 4 to 8 miles, for stakes usually of 100–300 guineas; (fn. 72) the duke of Wharton would sometimes stake 1,000 guineas on a single match. (fn. 73) Some races were over shorter distances. There were two of 3 miles in 1713, and two over 'Rowley's Mile on the Flat' in 1714. (fn. 74) The increasing number of thorough-bred horses, with their owner's preference for larger prizes at a lower risk, assisted the introduction of races for several horses, in which, unlike the traditional plate, the winner took all the prize-money, the prototype of the 19th-century sweepstakes. The first such race recorded at Newmarket was run in 1709, for £200 'contribution money', having perhaps been transferred from Quainton (Bucks.). (fn. 75) By 1714, the 'noblemen's contribution money', run in October, to which eleven peers each subscribed 20 guineas, was firmly established. (fn. 76) The spring meeting had the Great Stakes, founded c. 1730 and worth 700 guineas, increased to 1,000 guineas in 1738, and the Wallasey Stakes of 600 guineas, transferred in 1734 from a once-popular Cheshire meeting. (fn. 77) The number of matches had also increased, from 23 in 1715 to 77 in 1720. (fn. 78)
The development of Newmarket racing was temporarily interrupted c. 1740. The various sweepstakes expired in 1739, and there were, apart from the royal plates, only five matches in 1740 and again in 1741, (fn. 79) despite Newmarket's exemption from the statute of 1740 which forbade races for under £50 prize-money. (fn. 80) The townspeople, faced with the decline of the sport that supported their livelihood, rallied in 1744 to subscribe 50 guineas prize-money for two Tradesmen's Plates, (fn. 81) and further purses of 60, 80, and 100 guineas were soon added. (fn. 82) By 1753 the town was again so crowded during meetings that even garrets were let for 4 guineas. A fresh royal patron appeared in the duke of Cumberland, who attended the races almost every year from 1753 to his death. (fn. 83) The Duke's Stand, called after him, was erected near the end of the Beacon Course by the 1760s, and he is said to have established a stud at Newmarket, which was becoming an important centre for training horses. (fn. 84) By 1760 several experienced 'training grooms' were managing stables there, at first as the servants of individual noblemen, wearing their liveries and working only on their masters' horses. (fn. 85) From the 1780s, however, some, such as F. Neale and John Pratt, set up as public trainers. (fn. 86) The number of thorough-breds assembled gave excellent opportunities for testing their abilities, one against another, before races. In 1761 Lord Grosvenor failed to kiss hands on his creation, having gone to Newmarket to see a horse tried. (fn. 87) By 1770 the Jockey Club was imposing penalties on those spying on the form of horses at their trials. (fn. 88) The club, which has done so much to establish Newmarket's supremacy in English racing, was founded c. 1750, when certain lords and gentlemen seceded from the promiscuous society of the Red Lion, Newmarket's main inn, to find privacy in their own coffee-room. It stood on a site which was leased on their behalf by 1771, when they added the New Rooms, and which the club still occupies. (fn. 89)
The Jockey Club was an association of owners rather than riders, although gentlemen still sometimes rode their own horses. In 1775 participation in the Sportsmen's Stakes was restricted to members of the fashionable London clubs. (fn. 90) The club was originally intended for its members' private benefit. Its first recorded act was to found in 1752 two plates of 100 guineas each, for which they alone could compete. (fn. 91) It also established races for the Whip c. 1756, and the Jockey Club Challenge Cup in 1768. (fn. 92) Its existence probably promoted the increase in the 1750s in the number and value of sweepstakes run at Newmarket. In 1758 there were two worth 800 guineas and 1,200 guineas, in 1759 two worth 3,000 guineas each. (fn. 93) In 1762, 21 out of 49 races were sweepstakes. (fn. 94) Since the club contained Newmarket's principal patrons, it could easily appropriate authority to manage the races there, which were now conducted with greater regularity. From 1754 future fixtures were normally published in the annual lists of races. (fn. 95) The number of meetings was gradually increased. In 1753 a second spring meeting was started in May, which included the club's two plates, (fn. 96) and in 1762 a second October meeting. (fn. 97) One match was run in July 1764, four the next year, and thereafter meetings in July, though sometimes containing few races, were regularly held. (fn. 98) Two further meetings were added to open and close the Newmarket season, the Houghton in November 1770, (fn. 99) named in honour of the eccentric earl of Orford who raced enthusiastically until he went mad, (fn. 100) and the Craven in March 1771, (fn. 101) called after the Craven Stakes, for many years the earliest race of the year.
The Jockey Club also undertook the administration of Newmarket. By 1759 it was receiving the fees paid on weighing-in and used them to endow a Weights and Scales Plate. (fn. 102) From 1769 its secretary and keeper of the match book was involved in publishing the yearly calendar of English races, (fn. 103) which after 1773 became the monopoly of James Weatherby, then secretary, and his descendants. (fn. 104) In 1772 the club replaced the ad hoc selection of judges by appointing a permanent paid judge, and later established a salaried starter and clerk of the scales. (fn. 105) By 1790 it was making rules for the use of the trial-grounds. (fn. 106)
The club's assertions of authority were backed by its acquiring a jurisdiction at Newmarket, which was gradually accepted at other courses. Already in 1732 John Cheny, who then compiled the lists of races, had suggested that a code for racing and betting be 'founded on the dictates or judgement of Newmarket'. (fn. 107) There were occasional appeals to Newmarket in disputed cases, as from Bridgnorth in 1740 and even from Ireland in 1757. (fn. 108) In the Jockey Club Newmarket possessed a permanent body ready to assume this responsibility. In 1770 the club appointed three stewards whom in 1771 it empowered to hear and settle all disputes arising at Newmarket over racing or betting. (fn. 109) It had already made rules, enforceable there, about excess weight in 1758 (fn. 110) and against various frauds in 1770. (fn. 111) To enforce them, it had the sanctions of exclusion both from its membership and from the races which its members dominated. Even the prince of Wales was told by the stewards in 1791 that unless he dismissed a suspected jockey no gentleman would race against him. (fn. 112)
The club's influence also promoted changes in the manner of racing, to make it livelier, which gradually altered the character of English racing. They discarded the former long drawn out races. At Newmarket most plate and purse races were reduced to two heats by the 1750s. In 1756, after disputes on placing in one of the club's plates, it was decided in a single 'dash'. (fn. 113) Heats had been entirely abandoned, except in the Royal Plates, by 1762. (fn. 114) Instead the number of races was increased. In 1762 there were 28 matches and 2 sweepstakes, in 1780 63 and 51 respectively. (fn. 115) The distances run were simultaneously reduced. The old Long Course was abandoned, and in the 1760s there was no rubbinghouse before the sixth mile post. (fn. 116) The traditional four-mile courses retained popularity for a time, but shorter races over courses of one or two miles near the end of the Beacon Course were coming into general favour. They included Ancaster's Mile (1774) and Abingdon's Mile (1776), and Fox's and Clermont's Courses, named after prominent racing aristocrats of the period. (fn. 117) Bunbury's Mile commemorates Sir Charles Bunbury, many times steward between 1768 and his death in 1821, who was probably responsible for introducing summer racing over that last mile of the Round Course. (fn. 118) Of 184 races planned for 1778 only 70 were of 3 miles or over, 40 about 2 miles, the rest a mile or less. By 1801 only 48 out of 140 races were more than a mile long. (fn. 119)
The age at which horses were raced also fell steadily. Under the Stuarts they did not run until they were fully mature, aged five or six. Four-year- olds first ran at Newmarket about 1727. (fn. 120) A plate founded in 1744 was expressly reserved for them. In 1751 they were admitted to the Royal Plates. (fn. 121) In 1756 a £50 prize was established for three-yearolds. (fn. 122) By the 1770s most of the horses running at Newmarket were three- or four-year-olds. In 1771 the racing of two-year-olds was formally permitted, though none probably ran until 1773, (fn. 123) and in 1776 there were still only 7 two-year-olds among over 700 entries. In 1796 they still provided only a fifth of the entries for races. (fn. 124) By 1785 a two-year-old course of only 5 furlongs on the flat was in use. By 1788 there was also a yearling course of 3 furlongs, though racing yearling foals was soon abandoned at Newmarket. (fn. 125) In 1786 the July Stakes was founded, the first important race for two-year-olds. (fn. 126)
Few Newmarket races survived from the 18th into the 20th century, for meetings did not yet have fixed programmes. A few achieved a certain durability, such as the Prince's Stakes started in 1785 to celebrate the prince of Wales's advent on the turf, (fn. 127) or the Oatlands Stakes, transferred from Ascot in 1792; (fn. 128) both attracted enough entries to require their division, until the 1820s, into three classes, only the winners of which could run at the following meeting for the 'main' of the stakes. Imitations of the popular Oatlands Stakes, originally held in spring, were established at the July and two autumn meetings. (fn. 129) Similarly the Riddlesworth Stakes, founded in 1814 as a 200-guinea sweepstake over 1 mile, had by 1834 an offshoot in the Tuesday Riddlesworth Stakes. (fn. 130) Other long-surviving races, such as the Port and Claret Stakes, recalled a custom of adding a hogshead of wine to the prizemoney. (fn. 131) Most sweepstakes, however, disappeared after a few years' existence, and even the more popular, such as the Oatlands and Riddlesworth Stakes, declined in the 1840s as shorter races came into favour. Through lack of entries they were reduced to matches, left to be won by walkovers, and eventually dropped, or like the Craven Stakes in 1859 converted to selling races. (fn. 132) Only the Two Thousand and One Thousand Guineas Stakes, started in 1809 and 1813, survived to become classic races. (fn. 133) Most early-19th-century races were still non-recurrent sweepstakes or matches, the sweepstakes gradually coming to outnumber the matches. There were 41 sweepstakes to 53 matches in 1799, but 71 to 34 by 1820. From year to year the length and frequentedness of the meetings varied greatly. Before 1800 the traditional meetings in April and October had seen most racing. Between 1800 and 1850, however, racing came to be concentrated on the two first and two last meetings of the season, which in 1820 comprised 90 out of 138 races, in 1843 141 out of 164. The three intervening meetings had by the 1840s been shortened to three days each, (fn. 134) and the second spring meeting was totally abandoned after 1855, when it had included only 12 races. (fn. 135)
The authority of the Jockey Club meanwhile continued to increase. In 1784 it acted for all racing interests in inducing Pitt to reduce a proposed tax on race-horses. (fn. 136) Its growing predominance appeared when it resolved in 1815 not to hear disputes from other courses unless the parties bound themselves in writing to accept the stewards' decision, and in 1831 to refuse appeals from races not conducted under the rules that it approved and had revised in 1829. (fn. 137) Its frequent practice was to make rules formally applicable at first only at Newmarket, which when tested there could be extended to cover all racing. Its control at Newmarket was strengthened by acquiring the ownership of the race-courses. In the inclosure Acts for Swaffham Bulbeck, Swaffham Prior, and Exning (Suff.) between 1798 and 1807 it took care to have spaces 50 yards wide along the Beacon Course reserved for racing. (fn. 138) In 1808 it acquired the freehold of the Beacon Course, and between 1805 and 1819 bought or leased much of the adjacent grounds for training and exercise. (fn. 139) From 1819 it imposed a 'Heath Tax' of a guinea, raised by 1900 to 7 guineas, on all horses training on that land. (fn. 140) It could also reinforce its moral sanctions with the legal right to exclude from its property, by 'warning-off', persons of doubtful reputation and conduct. It first exercised that power in 1821 against a tout spying on a horse-trial, and had it upheld in a lawsuit in 1827. (fn. 141) The same power was soon used to discipline trainers and jockeys who disobeyed its rules or instructions.
The inclosures, however, necessitated the realignment in 1807–10 of the Round Course on a shorter line, entirely within Swaffham Prior, while the Duke's Course was abandoned. (fn. 142) Only the last two miles of the former were by then much used, principally at the July meetings, although summer racing was not confined to the 'July Course' until the 1850s. (fn. 143) Other improvements to the courses were made by the duke of Portland in the 1820s, by returfing and levelling the dangerous ruts of the ancient cartways over the Heath. (fn. 144) The Portland Stand opposite the old King's Stand is sometimes ascribed to him, but a map of 1787 already shows 'the Duke of Portland's and Lord Craven's stand' there. (fn. 145) About 1810 a new stand was built at the end of the Rowley Mile, where so many races by then finished. (fn. 146)
The later 19th century saw traditional Newmarket racing at its apogee. Royal interest returned: the prince of Wales raced there steadily from 1877 and trained at Richard Prince's stables from 1893. (fn. 147) Newmarket was assisted by the coming of the railways. The first line from London was opened in 1848, (fn. 148) and in 1854 the Eastern Counties Railway which had taken it over gave £100 towards a handicap. (fn. 149) Newmarket thus became accessible to many provincial horse-owners, previously restricted to the old county meetings which now began to decline, as well as to the circle of aristocrats with permanent establishments there. The number of professional trainers at Newmarket rose. There were 19 in 1844, 15 public ones and 9 private in 1851, 26 by 1874, and 38 in 1900. (fn. 150) Newmarket's pre-eminence in training, in abeyance from the 1830s, was re-asserted when Matthew Dawson and his family came from Yorkshire to open training stables there c. 1860. (fn. 151) The number of races also increased from 164 in 1843 to 276 in 1862, (fn. 152) enabling the Jockey Club to revive the Second Spring Meeting in 1871 and add a Second July Meeting in 1890, by shortening other meetings. (fn. 153) The type of races was still changing. Matches gradually disappeared: 42 were run in 1842, 40 in 1862, and only 4 in 1893. Instead, meetings were filled out with selling-plates, which increased from 3 in 1841 to 35 in 1862 and 48 out of 201 races in 1893. Plates, for which competitors did not provide all the money, rose also from 20 in 1843 to 64 in 1893, but the number of sweepstakes remained constant, 87 in 1843, 84 in 1893. (fn. 154) Many were handicaps. Newmarket's two great autumn handicaps were founded in 1839, the Cesarewitch with a gift of £300 from the Grand Duke Alexander then visiting England, and the Cambridgeshire. (fn. 155) With swifter travel, handicapping became an art practicable on a national scale, and for over 20 years, from 1855 to his death in 1877, it was dominated by Admiral Rous, almost permanently steward of the Jockey Club. (fn. 156) Many sweepstakes by then recurred annually, and the stakes in them, often formerly standing at £100 or £200, seldom exceeded £50 in races established after 1850.
From the 1830s race-horse owners expected to meet the heavy expense of their stables less from prize-money than from betting. At Newmarket betting had once been confined to the circle of gentlemen watching the races on horseback near the traditional Betting Post. Aristocratic gamblers, seeking a substitute for the gaming that occurred openly at Newmarket in Georgian times but was gone by the 1840s, (fn. 157) found one provided by the professional bookmakers, then contemptuously called 'black legs', who appeared at Newmarket soon after 1800. Betting Subscription Rooms, on the model of Tattersall's in London, were opened at Newmarket in 1844, (fn. 158) and the betting ring where the great bookmakers plied their trade became a permanent institution on the Heath. (fn. 159)
Races were increased in number, providing more occasions for betting, and were therefore reduced in length. In 1868 fewer than 30 of some 250 races at Newmarket were of 2 miles or more, and almost 150 were under 1 mile. Those short courses were designed for young horses to cover at great speed, and accordingly the number of times two-year-olds ran there rose from a quarter of the total entries in 1846 to over half in 1866. (fn. 160) The change assured breeders of high prices for yearlings by affording owners a swift return on their investment in buying and training, but it aroused a dispute between those who held that the stamina of the English thoroughbred was being sacrificed to sheer speed by running horses too hard before they were fully mature for profit or entertainment, and others, led by Admiral Rous, who believed that gentlemen were entitled to treat their horses as they liked, or realized that reforms would disturb racing's financial basis, and risk forfeiting popular interest. After heated debates (fn. 161) the Jockey Club imposed some minor restrictions on two-year-old racing in 1869, which were rescinded in 1873. (fn. 162) An attempt to encourage staying power by giving larger prizes at Newmarket for longer races of up to 2 miles had little success. (fn. 163) The longer races still attracted fewer entries and in 1896 two-year-olds still provided over half the entries; only 20 races out of 200 were over a mile long, and 96 were of only 5 furlongs. (fn. 164) The club's efforts were the more necessary because the old Royal Plates had been abolished. Though no longer run in heats after 1851, they were until 1872 run over the traditional four-mile course. (fn. 165) While their value remained fixed at 100 guineas, other prizes rose. When the amalgamation of Newmarket's three plates into one of 300 guineas in 1876 failed to draw competitors, they were abandoned in 1887 and the money was diverted to prizes at horseshows. (fn. 166) The Town Plate of 1665 survived nominally, though separated from the regular meetings, and has in recent years been run as a race for local inhabitants.
The Jockey Club could attempt to influence entries, because a change in the origin of prizemoney enabled it to add something from its own resources to the product of the stakes. Such added money was first recorded at Newmarket in 1803. (fn. 167) In the 1830s and 1840s some came from the Town Race Fund, supported by local gentry, which contributed £100 to start the Cambridgeshire Stakes in 1839. (fn. 168) The club could not itself add much, until its finances had been restored by the prudent administration of Admiral Rous, as steward from 1859 to 1877. Starting with a deficit on managing Newmarket of £5,000, as in 1856, he had made £10,000 available for added money by 1876, raising the yearly receipts from £3,000 to £18,000, partly by steadily increasing the Heath Tax and by charges for entry to the stands and the new carriage enclosures. (fn. 169)
The new prosperity enabled the club to purchase much of the exercise-grounds, hitherto only leased to it. In 1882 it bought the whole Exning estate to prevent the building of houses overlooking the course. By 1950 it owned 3,500 acres. (fn. 170) It also improved the facilities. The old Duke's Stand was demolished about 1859, (fn. 171) the Portland Stand rebuilt c. 1865, (fn. 172) and the Rowley Mile Stand c. 1876. (fn. 173) At first the sums added to the stakes were not large, £100 to £300. The club was assisted by Tattersall's (fn. 174) and by wealthy breeders. One gave £1,000 to found the Middle Park Stakes in 1866, another £300 for the Dewhurst Plate in 1873. (fn. 175)
From the 1870s Newmarket began to feel the competition from the new enclosed courses around London, whose comfort, security and accessibility enabled the companies that owned them to attract large numbers of metropolitan spectators and so to offer prizes of up to £10,000. Newmarket could not compete with them on amenities. It was still the preserve of gentry and carriage-folk and its stands admitted only club members and their friends. As late as 1840 there were said to be only 500 spectators. (fn. 176) The real danger was that the higher prizes elsewhere would seduce owners from entering their best horses at Newmarket. By 1890 the number of races there had fallen from its peak in the 1860s to about 200. (fn. 177) The only answer was to enlarge the prizes. Thus the Champion Stakes was founded in 1877 and the Great Foal Stakes in 1879, each with £1,000 added money. The Newmarket Stakes, revived in 1889, was worth £7,500, (fn. 178) and in 1894 the Jockey Club Stakes and Princess of Wales Stakes were established, each nominally worth £10,000, yielded by high stakes of £115. (fn. 179) Some other races now had added money ranging from £500 to £1,000. The stakes for most races were then usually only £5 or £10, although the two classic races still produced £4,950 and £7,100 in 1914 from stakes alone. (fn. 180)
The disappearance of privately sponsored matches and sweepstakes enabled the Jockey Club between 1860 and 1900 to impose a greater regularity on the Newmarket programme. There were now four meetings of four days and four of three, all starting on Tuesdays: Monday racing had been abolished in 1889 (fn. 181) and Saturday racing abandoned long before. All had seven races daily, with definite programmes repeated from year to year without much change. (fn. 182) The club undertook technical innovations. Starting gates were first tried at Newmarket in 1900, before being brought into general use in 1902. (fn. 183) The Newmarket courses were rationalized. After 1886 the first part of the Round Course was devoted to training. (fn. 184) In 1888 the Cambridgeshire was moved from its traditional course, ending at the Beacon Course post, to the Flat, (fn. 185) and after 1903 only three miles of the old network of courses were in regular use.
After war broke out in 1914, racing at first continued as usual, despite some doubts of its seemliness. (fn. 186) From May 1915 the government was obliged, partly through genuine difficulties over transporting race-goers and feeding horses, and partly under pressure from puritan or egalitarian sentiment, to forbid racing generally. (fn. 187) The Jockey Club, however, secured exemption for Newmarket, because the town's livelihood depended so much on racing, and to maintain the English thorough-bred's quality. So, except during periods of grave crisis in 1917 and 1918, additional summer meetings were held there with races such as a 'New Derby' and 'New Oaks' to replace the most notable fixtures from closed courses, and newly devised races drew large entries from owners with no other outlet for their horses. (fn. 188)
After the war every effort was made to restore prewar normality. The customary programme of meetings and fixtures was revived in 1919 and repeated every year down to 1939 with few modifications. (fn. 189) The number of races declined, however, irregularly from 194 in 1914 to 168 in 1938 and 148 by 1966. Selling-plates dwindled from 42 in 1914 to 17 in 1938 and 5 in 1955. (fn. 190) Meanwhile, under a policy intended to secure to winners larger returns for lesser stakes, most plates of fixed value were gradually transformed into sweepstakes with low stakes and substantial added money. Even the classic races, whose stakes remained at £100, received additions equal to their nominal value. (fn. 191) The few remaining sweepstakes, mainly for two-year-olds, still popular enough to produce large prizes for numerous entries at high stakes without support, were eventually modified in the same way. Thus the July Stakes, which in 1934 brought the winner £1,130 for a £50 stake, from 1935 had £1,000 added to stakes of £20. (fn. 192) Owners ceased to provide directly most of the prize-money they competed for, expecting their winnings only to cover their rising expenses. (fn. 193)
The Jockey Club tried to divert some of the £200 million a year, supposed in 1928 to be wagered by the general public, (fn. 194) to support breeding and racing. The Totalisator authorized in 1928 (fn. 195) for the purpose was first operated at Newmarket in 1929, (fn. 196) though without achieving the expected profit. The club had rebuilt the Rowley Mile Stand by 1925 and the July Course Stand by 1935. (fn. 197) Meanwhile it was developing a more even balance between older and younger horses and between longer and shorter distances. Whereas in the 1920s two-year-olds still comprised almost half the number of entries, 902 out of 2,030 in 1926, by 1936 the races for them alone had fallen to 68 out of 181. By 1937 only 61 races were of 5 furlongs and 45 were more than a mile. Those proportions were preserved after 1945. In 1966 53 of 147 races were solely for two-yearolds. Races of under a mile barely outnumbered longer ones, being alternated with them in the programmes, and almost two-thirds of the entries were of older horses. (fn. 198)
The Second World War brought as much restriction to racing as the First, though less confusion. Since much of the Heath was requisitioned, racing was confined to the July Course, (fn. 199) on which, except in the summer of 1940, a series of two-day meetings was held supplementing the shortened traditional meetings. Owing to transport difficulties only horses in training at Newmarket were allowed to run, except in the substitutes for the classic races. The meeting established during the war in August was continued until 1947, (fn. 200) and, although the old sequence of meetings was otherwise restored in 1945, once the customary pattern had been deranged, further alterations to adapt it to contemporary social changes could be considered. Post-war technical innovations introduced at Newmarket included photo-finishes in the 1940s, (fn. 201) Camera Patrol, closed-circuit television, and mechanical starting stalls in the 1960s. (fn. 202) Reorganization began in the mid 1950s. In 1954 special stewards for Newmarket meetings, distinct from the Jockey Club's stewards hitherto nominally responsible, were appointed. (fn. 203) An August meeting of two days including a Saturday was started in 1955, and a second August meeting added in 1957. (fn. 204) Between 1957 and 1959 the circular Sefton Course was laid out on the Flat to enable longer races of up to 2 miles to be run in view of the Rowley Mile Stand. (fn. 205) That stand was reconstructed in 1967–8, and admission to it made less exclusive with the establishment of the Newmarket Race Club. (fn. 206) Meanwhile Newmarket's importance for English thoroughbreds was enhanced by the establishment there of the Animal Health Trust's Equine Research Station in 1946, (fn. 207) of the National Stud, moved there by 1967, and of Tattersall's new sale ring. (fn. 208) In 1962 the old racing programme was remodelled to attract the larger crowds of spectators available at weekends. The Second Spring, July, August, and October Meetings were abolished, and the remaining six reduced to two or three days each, some ending on Saturdays; the Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire had already been moved to Saturday in 1960. In addition races were held on six summer Saturdays, (fn. 209) and a seventh was added in 1963. (fn. 210) Prizes were substantially increased: the Champion Stakes had £7,000 added in 1958, £10,000 in 1960, and £30,000 in 1966, when 16 races had over £2,000 each added, and another 36 £1,000 each. The minimum was £450. (fn. 211) In 1968 the Jockey Club, on its amalgamation with the National Hunt Committee. relinquished the management of the Newmarket courses to a specially created body, the Newmarket Estates and Property Company. (fn. 212)
Racing elsewhere in Cambridgeshire was easily overshadowed by that at Newmarket. In 1735 races were held at Bottisham. Two prizes were run for, including one for galloways. (fn. 213) Races were recorded at Wisbech from 1738, consisting of a twoday meeting about the end of May, at which two plates of 10 and 20 guineas were offered. (fn. 214) By 1754 they were changed to two £50 plates in heats, one for hunters. (fn. 215) A third was added in 1774, (fn. 216) but they attracted few competitors, except when noblemen condescended to send over horses from Newmarket to win them. In 1738 one race was a walk-over, another had only three runners. (fn. 217) In 1776 two of the plates were not run, for lack of horses. Though the meeting was moved to July and later to June, it expired after 1783. (fn. 218) Wisbech races were briefly revived in 1868–9, with a £20 handicap and the £15 Trial Stakes, but could not be kept up. The racecourse lay beside the road to Elm. (fn. 219)
Sporadic attempts were made in the 19th century to hold races at Cambridge. In 1841–2 there was a Coronation Meeting including a Coronation Plate of £30, still run in heats, for gentleman-riders. (fn. 220) In 1857 meetings were revived on a larger scale including Tradesmen's, Town, and Members' Plates, which added up to £20 to small sweepstakes. In 1859 County and Ladies' Plates and a 'Cambridgeshire Handicap' were added. Some of those races were run yearly until 1868, with others 'too trivial to report'. (fn. 221) Races held in 1869–70 over Cottenham pastures consisted mostly of steeplechases. (fn. 222) A more elaborate two-day flat-race meeting was attempted in 1876 with three plates of £100 and two £50 selling-races run over the fashionable shorter courses. (fn. 223) Thereafter the race-course reverted to steeple-chasing.
Meetings, consisting mainly of steeple-chases with a few flat-races, mostly sweepstakes, added, were held near Royston from 1871 by the Royston Hunt and Harston and Junior Harston Clubs, in May or June. (fn. 224) At Newmarket itself Col. McCalmont, who then owned Cheveley Park, laid out at the Links a steeple-chase course which was used from 1896 to 1899 and then turned over to training. (fn. 225)
Cambridgeshire, with its slow-moving rivers and its numerous waterways, has long stretches of water suitable for boat-racing, but it has no large centre of population other than Cambridge. The sport has been confined hitherto, with one minor exception, to the county town, to which it was introduced by members of the university. (fn. 226) It was taken up subsequently by the townsmen, among whom there have been a number of enthusiastic oarsmen for over a century, but various considerations, of time and expense in particular, have made rowing in Cambridgeshire predominantly a university sport. In the 1960s, however, town rowing increased in importance with the reconstitution of the Cambridge regatta as an open event, and the founding of the Head of the Cam and the Head of the Cam Sculling Championship. At the same time, and as a result, clubs from a wider area competed in Cambridge rowing, which previously had been generally limited to Cambridge clubs. (fn. 227)
The two oldest boat clubs at Cambridge were both founded in 1825, at the two largest colleges in the university, Trinity and St. John's. At the former there were within a few years three clubs, First, Second, and Third Trinity, the last of which was confined to men from Eton and Westminster. First Trinity later drew its members from all the rest of the college since Second Trinity, except for a revival of a few months in 1894, ceased to exist in 1876. First Trinity and Third Trinity, after collaborating during the Second World War, amalgamated in 1946 into a single club called First and Third Trinity. At St. John's College the boat club has always been named after Lady Margaret, the foundress of the college. Apart from casual encounters between Trinity and St. John's there was no boat-racing at Cambridge until 1827, when clubs were founded at Jesus, Caius, and Emmanuel colleges, the Cambridge University B.C. was founded, and organized racing began. The narrowness and meanderings of the Cam precluded boats from racing abreast, and they were therefore forced to adopt the system which had been in vogue at Oxford for some years, the bumping-race. The system has remained essentially unchanged. Chains are fastened to the riverbank at equal distances apart, and at a warning signal the boats, arranged in the order in which they finished in the previous race, are pushed out into the stream, each coxswain holding the end of his chain. When a starting-gun is fired the coxswain drops his chain, and the boats start rowing simultaneously, each trying to overtake and touch the one in front. If it does so it is said to have made a bump, and the victorious and the vanquished crew draw into the bank to allow the other boats to pass. The way is thus left clear for an exceptionally good crew to score an overbump by touching the boat which started three places ahead. On the next day, boats which rowed over the course in the previous race without being involved in a bump start from the same places as before, but those which made a bump or an overbump change places before the start with those which they bumped, thus being able to work their way gradually up the river to the headship.
The bumping-races have always, apparently, been managed by the university boat club. (fn. 228) In 1827 and 1828 they were spread over the three university terms, but since then have been rowed in the Lent and Easter ('May') terms only. For many years Lent races and May races ranked equally, so that two colleges sometimes shared the headship of the river in the same year. For some time the number of races in a year, or in a term, fluctuated. There were 32 in the first year, 23 in the second, and 18 in the third. Only once after 1833 were there more than 11, but the number still fluctuated. It was not until 1868 that the Lent races were fixed at their present duration of four days a year. The May races were fixed at six days a year in 1865 and at four days, their present duration, in 1887.
In the early bumping-races there were no rules about the dimensions of boats or the number of oars. In 1827, for instance, a ten-oar competed with eightoared and six-oared boats. The ten-oar disappeared early, but a six-oar was still rowed against eights in 1846. By that time, however, six-oared boats had lost the popularity which they had formerly enjoyed at Cambridge and elsewhere, and the bumpingraces were finally restricted to eight-oared boats. Early eights were heavy keeled boats, about 40 ft. long, with a beam of from 3 to 5 ft., and had no outriggers.
For the first eight years the racing took place much nearer the town than it did later. At that time there was a lock opposite the Pike and Eel public house at Old Chesterton, and another opposite the Fort St. George on Midsummer Common. It was between those two locks that the races were rowed and then, as later, they were rowed upstream. The starting-posts were 90 ft. apart and the bottom boat started just above the lock, but no bumping was allowed until the sharp corner at the Horse Grind had been passed. The finishing-post stood on the site of the First and Third Trinity boathouse.
Those arrangements lasted until the autumn of 1834 when the upper lock was moved higher up the river to its present position by Jesus Green, and the lock at Old Chesterton was abolished. As a result, there was an unbroken stretch of water for 3½ miles, from Jesus Lock to Baitsbite Lock. There was no desire among rowing men for a change of course, but the removal of Chesterton Lock made the water over the old course so shallow that they were forced to move lower down the river. From 1835 onwards the first boat started at First Post Corner, the finish being at the ditch by Morley's Holt. The change of course was resented at first but was soon found to be of advantage to rowing, since the new course was both longer and wider than the old, and its increased length enabled the starting-posts to be placed 140 ft. apart. Consequently the old course was not used again, even when subsequent improvements to the river made it possible to return there.
Rowing continued to grow in popularity, and the bumping-races became more and more interesting as one college after another founded a boat club and joined in. By the middle of the century further stimulus had been given by the establishment of three races for smaller boats. The first was the Colquhoun Sculls, founded in 1837 by a member of the Lady Margaret B.C. Until 1842 the race was sculled on the Thames, but in that year it was transferred to the Cam. Two years later the Magdalene Pairs, founded by the Magdalene College B.C., were rowed for the first time. Both those races were from the first open to any member of the university but, whereas control of the Pairs was subsequently given to the university boat club, the Colquhoun Sculls is still managed by Lady Margaret. The third event was a race for four-oared boats, established by the university boat club in 1849. Four-oared boats had rudders and coxswains, but pair-oared and sculling boats had neither.
For a number of years all but the final heats of the small-boat races were decided by the method which had already become traditional at Cambridge. A series of bumping-races was held among the competitors who drew lots for their places each day, retiring from the contest when they had been bumped. When all but two or three boats had been eliminated the final heat was decided by a time-race. If the competitors in the preliminary heats were fairly evenly matched the bumping-races took a long time, so long, indeed, that the principle of time-racing was ultimately extended to all the heats. The force of tradition was so strong, however, that it was not until 1871 that bumping-races were entirely banished from small-boat events. Until 1892 there were often three boats in a heat. Since then, with very rare exceptions, there have not been more than two. The starting-posts for such time-races are a hundred yards apart.
The new racecourse had been in use only eleven years when the Eastern Counties Railway was extended from Cambridge to Ely. It crossed the Cam below Morley's Holt, and the wooden piers of the bridge by which it crossed were so close together that, from 1846 onwards, races had to finish below the bridge. To compensate for this the starting-posts were pushed farther down towards Baitsbite Lock, and the number of boats allowed to compete in the bumping-races was limited to 24. In the same year in which these changes took place outrigged boats were used for the first time. Perhaps as a consequence the popularity of rowing increased, and in 1854 the demand was met by increasing the number of places on the river to 31, the boats being grouped in two divisions. The second division, headed by the sixteenth boat, rowed first, and the boat which finished at the top rowed again later at the bottom of the first division. If it made a bump it stayed in the first division, and the defeated boat rowed next day at the top of the second division. Thus was instituted the sandwich-boat, which still links the various divisions of the bumping-races. From 1860 onwards the boats in the first division, which had been keelless since 1858, did not row in the Lent races, and the headship of the river consequently belonged thenceforward only to the club which finished head of the Mays. In 1870 the boats were grouped in three divisions, the third of which rowed in the Lents only, and the first, as before, in the Mays only.
Towards the end of the same year the railway bridge was so rebuilt that the course was lengthened in 1871 or 1872, when the finishing-post was moved up the river to the Pike and Eel. At the same time, or a few years previously, the distance between the starting-posts in bumping-races was increased to 175 ft. It was recorded in 1872 that the fours also 'were rowed over a much longer course than usual'. In 1874, in order to lessen the disadvantage from which the lower boats in any division of a bumpingrace suffered in having to row a longer course than the upper boats, it was decided that the first eight (subsequently seven) boats in each division should row to a post still higher up the river, just below the Horse Grind, but that the lower boats should finish at Morley's Holt, with the option of bumping any of the first eight boats anywhere before the upper finishing-post. These rules still persist. Fouroared boats row the full course to the Horse Grind, but pair-oared and sculling races have always finished below the railway bridge.
During these changes two important improvements in boat-fittings were introduced at Cambridge, the sliding seat and foot-steering. Footsteering, using pulleys and rudder-lines leading to one of the oarsmen's stretchers, made it possible to dispense with coxswains in four-oared boats. Both inventions were used in the University Fours in the autumn of 1872, and the event has since remained coxswainless. A race for coxed fours, with sliding seats, was, however, instituted in 1886, its original intention being to give junior oarsmen experience in the use of slides. Slides were used in the first division of the May races from 1873 onwards, and in 1887 were extended to all May boats, but were not used in Lent races until the 20th century. Early slides had a play of about 6 in. only, and long slides, with practically unlimited play, were not used at Cambridge until 1883. Swivel rowlocks, introduced into England in 1876, did not entirely oust fixed rowlocks from Cambridge until 1951.
The year 1874 marks the end of a revolutionary period in Cambridge rowing which had an uneventful history during the next twelve years, the only important change being that in 1883 the May races were transferred to June, though they retain their old name. In 1887, however, the organization of the bumping-races was thoroughly overhauled, and a new system was established which was a great improvement on the old one.
Until then the Lent races and the May races formed an organic whole, since the boats in the second division rowed in both sets of races, starting in one from the places where they had finished in the other. Under the new scheme Lents and Mays were made entirely separate events, the boats in each being arranged in two divisions connected by a sandwich-boat. Each Lent boat started henceforward from where it had finished in the previous year, and similarly each May boat. Small clubs were protected by a rule that no first boat could be bumped off the river, and were further helped by the exclusion from the Lent races of any oarsman who had rowed in the first division of the previous Mays. This last rule has been varied slightly from time to time to meet changing circumstances, and the number of divisions has grown. In all other respects, however, the 1887 system, including a proviso that the first division of the May races should be rowed in carvel-built boats ('light ships') has remained unchanged.
From 1887 to 1914 there is little to record beyond the facts that in 1898 the starting-distances in bumping-races were reduced to 150 ft., that a third division was added to the Lent races in the following spring, and that two new small-boat races were established: the Lowe Double Sculls, founded by the Lady Margaret B.C. in 1894 and still controlled by it, and the Forster-Fairbairn Trial Pairs, founded in 1910.
On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the university emptied rapidly, and no races were held under the auspices of the university boat club until hostilities ended. There were, however, many races on the Cam among the cadets quartered at the various colleges, including a number for the headship of the river. After the armistice the university quickly filled again with undergraduates, and normal rowing events were resumed with the May races of 1919. It was soon found, however, that existing facilities for rowing were unequal to the demands made upon them, since the undergraduate membership of the university was 40 per cent higher than in 1914. To meet those demands a fourth division was added to the Lents in 1920, and a third division to the Mays. In the same year sliding seats were used in the first division of the Lent races as an experiment, which was not repeated for some years. In 1929, however, slides were used in all Lent boats, and have been used ever since. Partly, no doubt, as a result of the change, rowing became more popular than ever in the university, and to cater for the increased demand a fifth division was added to the Lent races in 1932 and a fourth to the Mays. Three new races were founded after the First World War: the Fairbairn Junior Sculls and the Bushe-Fox Freshmen's Sculls in 1920, and the Fairbairn Cup in 1929. The latter is a time-race managed by the Jesus College B.C., and is the only race which departs from the Cambridge tradition of rowing upstream; it is also the one which is rowed over the longest course, from Victoria Bridge to the Little Bridge at Baitsbite.
Rowing continued during the Second World War. The Lents and the Mays were replaced by bumpingraces known as the March Eights and the June Eights which were rowed on three days each, and were open to town and services' clubs. When the war ended the Lents and Mays were re-established on the old lines, except that the colleges started in 1946 in the order in which they had finished at the end of the war, and not as in 1939. The great increase in the size of the university led to the addition of fifth and sixth divisions to the Mays in 1948 and a seventh division in 1949. There were eight divisions in 1971 when 129 boats took part. (fn. 229)
From 1827 to 1874 one or other of the two largest colleges in the university, Trinity and St. John's, was head of the river on 55 occasions out of a possible 64, but medium-sized colleges predominated afterwards. From 1875 to 1885 Jesus College was head without a break, and Trinity Hall from 1886 to 1897 with only one break. The headship then returned to Trinity College for nine years and next to Trinity Hall for two years. From 1909 to the outbreak of war in 1939 only five clubs held the headship: Jesus College seventeen times, Pembroke College five times, First Trinity and Third Trinity twice each, and Lady Margaret once. The most notable feature was the rise of Pembroke College, which was never head until 1923. During the substitute races in the Second World War Clare was head four times. After that war Lady Margaret was head eight times, Jesus College six times, First and Third Trinity four times, Queens' College three times, and Trinity Hall and Clare once each, the latter for the first time in peacetime. Fitzwilliam was head from 1969 to 1971. (fn. 230)
Of the women's colleges Girton College held only sculling races until the Second World War, including an occasional contest with Newnham College. At the latter a boat club was formed in 1893 but there was no serious rowing until 1919, when the club put its first eight on the river and rowed at Marlow against the London School of Medicine for Women, both crews using fixed seats. Sliding seats were adopted in 1920, and numerous races were rowed against women's crews representing Oxford University, London University, and other clubs, the course being generally about a mile. From 1929 to 1933 the club competed in the race of about 3 miles for the Fairbairn Cup. In 1931 it beat one of the men's crews by 13 seconds, and in 1932 beat two of them. The crew had to wear skirts while rowing until 1925 when they were allowed to wear shorts instead, and a few years later they were permitted to wear socks instead of stockings. In 1940 Girton and Newnham Colleges formed a combined Cambridge University Women's B.C., which subsequently rowed a number of races against the Oxford University Women's B.C. and other clubs. The race against Oxford was apparently discontinued after c. 1954 and the club itself lapsed. It was re-established in 1956, and was affiliated to the Women's Amateur Rowing Association in 1958. New Hall also provided club members in the 1960s, when the club rowed in both eights and fours against other universities and clubs, and in a number of regattas and competitions. The race against Oxford was revived in 1964, and was won by Cambridge every year until 1971. By that time the club also recruited members from Darwin and University colleges. (fn. 231)
It is not known when the townsmen of Cambridge first formed a boat club. In 1844 they rowed an eight-oared race against Caius College which represented the university as head of the river. Subsequently there was racing from time to time and several town rowing clubs were formed, the earliest being the Cambridge Town (later City of Cambridge) R.C. in 1863. In 1868 those clubs formed a Cambridge Eight-oared Racing Committee, later called the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association, and organized some bumping-races in which ten boats took part. Those races, generally rowed in the week before the old August bank holiday, have been held every year since, except in 1894, when time-races were substituted, and during the two world wars. Entries increased from 22 in 1931, when the races were rowed in two divisions for the first time, to 32 in 1951. There were 34 entries in 1971. (fn. 232) The Rob Roy B.C., founded in 1880, held the headship from 1897 to 1911 except for one year, and has been head more times than any other club. The headship has also been held by, inter alia, the Cambridge '99 club, named after the year in which it was founded, and the City of Cambridge club. In 1971 the Rob Roy B.C. was head of the river.
The Cambridgeshire Rowing Association had 19 affiliated clubs in 1971. (fn. 233) In addition to bumpingraces for eights, for many years it organized races for small boats. During the 19th and early 20th centuries races for four-oared, pair-oared, and sculling boats were rowed on different evenings, but after 1909 they were merged into a single regatta held in September, which was a closed event for members of the association. (fn. 234) The regatta was reconstituted as an open regatta in 1956. (fn. 235) There were 169 entries in 1970 when the regatta was held in May over a course from Ditton Corner to the Blue Post. There has also been a time-race for eights since 1930 on the lines of the Fairbairn Cup. It is rowed a fortnight before the bumping-races over a course from the railway bridge to Victoria Bridge.
The Head of the Cam race was founded in 1962 by two members of the Cantabrigian R.C. and is managed by the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association. (fn. 236) It is an open time-race for eight-oared and four-oared boats rowed in May from the Gun Sheds to the railway bridge. (fn. 237) There were c. 95 entries in 1970.
The Head of the Cam Sculling Championship was begun by the Rob Roy B.C. in 1966. It is an open time-race (fn. 238) rowed early in November from Baits- bite Lock to the Chesterton footbridge. Placings increased from 67 in 1966 to 123 in 1970.
Of the extinct Cambridge rowing clubs the Ancient Mariners, founded in 1857, was a university club with membership restricted to M.A.s and fellows of colleges. Although it did not, apparently, race after the year of its foundation, when it participated in the university bumping-races, it existed until the early 20th century. The Cambridge Amateur R.C. was founded in 1896. It concentrated on small-boat racing and rowed at various provincial regattas, mainly at Evesham and Bedford. In addition, it held an annual regatta at Cambridge in July, from 1900 to 1913. Most of the competing crews were from Cambridge colleges, supplemented by entries from Oxford and provincial clubs. Although the club was not revived after the First World War it was not formally dissolved until 1923. The University and College Servants' Boat Club manned a boat in the town bumping-races of 1867, and was head of the river a number of times. After 1906 time-races for eights were organized between the employees of the various colleges during the Easter vacation, and in the long vacation a representative crew rowed against a similar crew from Oxford alternately at Cambridge and Oxford. The club has not raced since 1950. (fn. 239)
Apart from Cambridge the only place in the county where there has been any serious rowing is Ely, where the river Ouse is wide enough for rowing abreast. Following the introduction of bank holidays an annual regatta was held at Ely on August bank holiday from 1872 to 1876. Among the variety of competitors local clubs, for instance the Etheldreda Boat Club, rowed against working men's clubs from Cambridge and college clubs from Cambridge, Oxford, and even Dublin. There were also races for professionals. There was a City of Ely R.C. in the 1880s, and also during part of the 1920s. About 1951 there was some racing between the King's School and the theological college. There is no longer a regatta at Ely but the straight Adelaide course of about 3 miles has long been used by the Cambridge University B.C. to practise for its annual race with Oxford. The university trial eights race, which has been rowed at Ely since 1863, is also rowed over the Adelaide course, towards the end of the Michaelmas term, the boats starting at Littleport and finishing at the Adelaide bridge. The university boat race itself has never been rowed in Cambridgeshire, being first rowed at Henley in 1829 and thereafter on the tidal waters of the Thames. Including the 1971 race, Cambridge had won 65 times, Oxford 51 times, and there was a dead-heat in 1877. (fn. 240)
The earliest records of football in Cambridgeshire come from the university. (fn. 241) In 1579 a match played between some students and the townspeople of Chesterton developed into a brawl. In the following year the university and college authorities ordered that football might be played only among the members of a college within their own college precincts. The 'little green' between Trinity College and the river was reserved for the use of members of that college only. (fn. 242) In 1595 the vicechancellor again prohibited the 'hurtful and unscholarlike exercise of football' except within the college grounds. (fn. 243) Football was one of the games proscribed under the statute against unlawful games in 1477, finally repealed in 1863. (fn. 244) The university's object, however, was probably not to enforce a statute which was already ignored but to prevent the brawls which often accompanied competitive matches.
A royalist pamphleteer alleged that Oliver Cromwell was a keen football-player during his residence at Sidney Sussex College (1616–17). (fn. 245) In spite of regulations, inter-college rivalry was strong in the early 17th century, and resulted in occasional riots. There were said to be two principal factions, one headed by St. John's and the other by Trinity. In 1679 regulations were issued at Magdalene College against the holding of parties after football matches. (fn. 246)
Association Football. The status of football at Cambridge improved in the earlier 19th century, although it was still generally regarded as being merely a boys' game. Undergraduates brought with them the rules favoured by their public schools. (fn. 247) In 1846 two undergraduates from Shrewsbury School succeeded in forming a club with some Old Etonians and played matches on Parker's Piece. Two years later an attempt was made to reconcile the codes of five of the leading schools. A set of rules was produced which, it has been claimed, embodied the basic principles of the modern Association code. The rules, however, were purely local at that time. In 1863 Cambridge produced a revised code which prohibited hacking and made no mention of running with the ball. The revised Cambridge rules formed the basis of the code finally adopted by the Football Association when it was formed in the same year. (fn. 248)
The Cambridge University Association Football Club was formed in 1870 and was effectively an association of the various college clubs. (fn. 249) The first match between Oxford and Cambridge under Association rules took place in 1874 at Kennington Oval. Up to and including the season 1966–7 Cambridge had won 36 matches in this series, Oxford 31, and 17 had been drawn. (fn. 250) In 1877 a cup competition was organized between the Cambridge colleges on a cup-tie basis; it was changed to a league system in 1898. (fn. 251) In 1895 the university association and rugby football clubs combined to purchase their own ground in Grange Road, Cambridge. (fn. 252)
Many fine footballers played for Cambridge in the late 19th century. W. N. Cobbold, captain in 1885 and 1886, is generally credited with introducing in the match against Oxford the revolutionary tactic of dropping back one of the two centre forwards to be a centre half-back. In 1886 there were eight players in the Cambridge team who subsequently attained international status. The high standard of university soccer continued in the early 20th century. In 1921 Cambridge had four players who later became full internationals: C. T. Ashton, A. G. Doggart, F. N. S. Creek (England), and J. R. B.Moulsdale (Wales).
Shortly afterwards, however, the increasing popularity of rugby football at the public and grammar schools began to have an adverse effect on the standard of university soccer. Various efforts were made to revive interest in the game and improve its quality. The Cambridge Falcons club was formed in 1925 as a university second eleven. In 1931 Cambridge first used the facilities of a professional club to assist in training. (fn. 253) After the Second World War the universities were enabled to obtain coaching from professional footballers under a Football Association scheme. (fn. 254)
The Pegasus club was formed in 1948 to stimulate interest in Association football at the universities. It was a combined Oxford and Cambridge side which achieved notable success shortly after its foundation by winning the F.A. Amateur Cup in 1951 and 1953. (fn. 255)
The influence of the university is evident in the early development of organized Association football in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 256) Although Parker's Piece was said to have been very 'calm' in the winter months c. 1870, by 1884 many clubs had been started in the Cambridge area. In that year the captains and secretaries of some of them, led by F. B. Westcott of Trinity College, decided to attempt to form a county association. That object was achieved at a public meeting at the Guildhall in the same year. The Cambridgeshire Football Association's original object appears to have been to arrange representative matches against other counties, and a trial game was immediately played to select a county side. The teams for the game were drawn from seven Cambridge clubs: Old Perseans, Modern Perseans (Perse School), and Cassandra played on one side and Granta, Rovers, Printers', and Albert on the other. Newmarket, Linton, Sawston, Swifts, and Cam also joined the association. In the first season matches were played against Lincolnshire, Essex, Norfolk, and the East Midland Counties F.A. In 1886 a challenge cup competition was instituted and seven clubs entered. Granta defeated Perse School in the final.
Growth was fairly slow to begin with. The anxiety of the authorities to protect the grass of Parker's Piece caused a number of fixtures to be abandoned at short notice in bad weather. In 1887 Wisbech St. Augustine's and West Wratting Park joined the association. In 1890 the secretary reported that 'little satisfactory' had occurred during the previous season. A crisis seems to have been reached in the following year when it was stated that the season 1890–1 had been of a 'most unsatisfactory character in every respect'. Difficulty had been found in raising representative teams and no county fixtures had been arranged for the following season. Only six clubs entered the challenge cup competition and the final could not be played. It was decided to widen the scope of the association and an invitation was issued to all clubs of whatever standard to join and thereby 'assist in extending the game and increasing its popularity in the villages'. The cup competition was reorganized on a league system but no great revival is immediately discernible. In 1892–3 the competition was again uncompleted because most of the fixtures were left until December and January when bad weather often prevented play. The season 1893–4 saw greater interest in the cup competition. The Cambridge Commons Committee, however, continued to close Parker's Piece to football at short notice if there was danger of damage to the cricket pitches and play was rarely allowed there after January.
In 1897 the challenge cup was resumed on a cuptie basis and a new Junior Cup competition was started. The Junior Cup immediately proved popular and 18 clubs entered it in the first season compared with 4 entries for the Senior Cup. Although many clubs still came from Cambridge, the Junior Cup also attracted teams from Sawston, Ely, Chatteris, March, Wisbech, and Barrington. The association was growing rapidly: 10 clubs joined in 1899 alone. Various local leagues became affiliated to the county association. Increased competitiveness is probably reflected in the growing number of reports of unruly behaviour by both players and spectators. Pitches were still difficult to find, but Midsummer Common was used by the association and the university and college grounds were sometimes available. In 1906 the Junior Cup Final at the university ground attracted a record attendance. The association was then well established and in 1907 was granted direct representation on the Football Association Council. In the same year the county first played in the Southern Counties Amateur Cup (now Competition), and introduced the Junior Shield competition for which 22 clubs entered. In 1909 Cambridgeshire obtained a county ground in the Romsey Town district of Cambridge. It is not known when this ground ceased to be used.
The First World War interrupted the association's activities. After the war, however, a major reorganization of its competitions was effected. The Senior and Junior cups were renamed the Challenge Cup and Minor Challenge Cup and the Junior Shield competition was terminated. The Cambridgeshire League was formed in two divisions, the competition beginning in 1921–2. The league, in which most Cambridgeshire clubs play, had expanded to five divisions by 1967. In 1966 about 170 clubs were affiliated to the Cambridgeshire F.A. (fn. 257)
There are few professional clubs in the county. The best known are probably Cambridge City and Cambridge United. The Cambridge City (formerly Town) Football Club (fn. 258) was founded in 1908 by the committee of the Cambridge St. Mary's club which was in existence by 1897. The new club followed the university association in joining the Amateur Football Association (later Alliance) and was thus excluded from the Cambridgeshire F.A.'s competitions. It played in the Southern Olympian League until the First World War. After the war it was without a ground of its own and played its ordinary matches on the college pitches and important cupties on the university ground. Cambridge Town became a member of the Southern Amateur League and won the championship five times before joining the Spartan League in 1935–6. The club, meanwhile, had obtained its ground in Milton Road in 1923. Several fine players appeared for the club in the period, including V. Watson, later of West Ham United and England, who returned to Cambridge as trainer-coach. The team was also strengthened by the support of players from the university. Cambridge Town won the A.F.A. Senior Cup in 1930–1, 1946–7, and 1947–8 and the East Anglian Cup in 1930–1, 1935–6, 1942–3, 1943–4, 1945–6, and 1947–8. The club also won the championship of the Spartan League in 1947–8 and 1948–9. Cambridge Town joined the Athenian League in 1950 but in 1958 became a professional club in the Southern League. The club won the championship of the premier division of the Southern League in 1963. (fn. 259)
The Cambridge United Football Club (fn. 260) was founded as Abbey United in 1919. The name was derived from the club's close connexions with the church of St. Andrew the Less, known as the abbey church, whose curate, W. Warr, became its first president. Abbey United entered the third division of the Cambridgeshire League, but achieved immediate success and speedily obtained promotion to the first division. In 1925 it won the county challenge cup. The club played its earliest matches on the public parks of Cambridge but later rented a piece of ground known as the 'celery trenches' near the Newmarket road and finally the ground later called Abbey Stadium was lent to the club. Abbey United continued to play during the Second World War with the assistance of players from the armed services. After the war, however, it became a professional club and joined the United Counties League. In 1949 it purchased the freehold of its ground. In 1951 the club changed its name to Cambridge United and entered the Eastern Counties League. It was admitted to the first division of the Southern League in 1958 and, three years later, gained promotion to the premier division. Cambridge United finished second in the premier division in 1963 and won the Southern League Challenge Cup in 1962 and 1965. The club has tried to gain admission to the Football League, and has undertaken substantial improvements to the stadium, including the construction of a new grandstand, to further that end.
Rugby Football. Albert Pell is usually credited with introducing into Cambridge University in 1839 the style of football played at Rugby School. (fn. 261) This form persisted in spite of efforts to develop a uniform code. The Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club was formed in 1872; in that year the first match was played against Oxford at the Parks, Oxford, which Oxford won. The return match was played on Parker's Piece in 1873. The match thenceforward became an annual one, interrupted only by the two world wars. It was played at Kennington Oval in 1874 and later at Blackheath and Queen's Club before moving to Twickenham in 1921. (fn. 262) Up to and including the season 1966–7 Oxford had won 39 matches, Cambridge 34, and 13 had been drawn. (fn. 263)
Most of Cambridge University's early matches were played on Parker's Piece, but in 1881 the town authorities prohibited the playing of rugby football there because of the damage done to the turf. The Corpus Christi ground was hired for the next 14 years until the university soccer and rugby clubs combined to purchase the Grange Road ground in Cambridge. (fn. 264) It is said that some of the university's early rugby-type matches induced spectators to intervene to stop what they thought to be brawls. (fn. 265) The popularity of rugby football at the university increased greatly towards the end of the 19th century and, in spite of opposition from the boating, cricket, and athletic clubs, 'blues' were awarded for both types of football in 1884. (fn. 266) Cambridge University rugby has maintained a very high standard and has tended to overshadow the Association game there.
Rugby football was rather slow to establish itself in Cambridgeshire outside the university. The Leys School, however, adopted the game shortly after its foundation in 1875. The Old Leysians Club was formed in 1877 and soon rose to prominence, being strong enough to defeat Cambridge University in 1882. The fixture with the university continued until 1955. Since 1950, however, the club has played only occasional matches. (fn. 267) Perse School and Cambridge High School later adopted the game.
The Cambridge Town Rugby Union Football Club was formed in 1923, although some fixtures for a town club were made in 1913–14. In 1961 the Cambridge club was reorganized with the intention of producing a strong senior side in collaboration with other local clubs. Perse Wanderers, formed in 1949, associated itself with the venture. (fn. 268) Perhaps the most outstanding player to represent Cambridge was R. E. G. Jeeps, who captained England from 1960 to 1962. (fn. 269) The Old Cantabrigians Rugby Football Club, raised from former pupils of Cam- bridge High School, was first formed in the 1920s. (fn. 270) By 1928 enough rugby was played in the county for Cambridgeshire to join the Eastern Counties Rugby Union, which already comprised Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex. (fn. 271) Shelford Rugby Union Football Club was formed in 1933 for young players who were unable to play elsewhere. It began with a Thursday XV but later expanded to two teams. Though disbanded during the Second World War, it resumed its activities afterwards and by 1963 fielded four teams. In that year the club obtained its own ground, called Davey Field, (fn. 272) and two years later received a government grant to assist the provision of a new club-house. (fn. 273) Since the Second World War rugby clubs have also been formed at Wisbech (1947) and Ely (1951). (fn. 274)
The earliest known reference to cricket in Cambridgeshire, (fn. 275) outside the university, comes from 1744 when a match was advertised between March and Wisbech on March Common for £5 a man. (fn. 276) In 1757 a team representing the town of Cambridge was defeated by Saffron Walden (Essex) on Jesus Green, Cambridge, but won both the matches played against the same opponents in the following year. (fn. 277) In 1767 Ely defeated Bury St. Edmunds by 63 notches, and in 1783 Wisbech lost two matches to Methwold (Norf.). A Chatteris team is mentioned in 1794 (fn. 278) and one from Manea three years later. (fn. 279) There are further 18th-century references to cricket at Cambridge and Wisbech. (fn. 280)
Although it is evident that much cricket was being played in the county by the end of the 18th century, it is not certain that any regular clubs had been established. Two teams, however, called the Morning and Evening clubs, appear at Cambridge in 1795 (fn. 281) and in 1801 eleven men from the Wisbech club played Sir John Shelley of the Marylebone club, J. O. Hunter, and nine men of the Hertfordshire militia. The match was closely contested and ended in a dispute about which side had won. Wisbech finally conceded victory 'to prevent the mischief of contending in such a multitude'. (fn. 282) In 1804 a cricketer described as a member of the Cambridge cricket club defeated six townsmen. (fn. 283)
References to the game become far more frequent in the early 19th century, especially concerning Cambridge itself. The earliest reports of matches played in the town give Jesus Green as their location (fn. 284) and that ground was still used in 1804. (fn. 285) A match advertised between Cambridge and Newmarket (Suff.) in 1792 was to be played on Parker's Piece, (fn. 286) which was to become the principal cricketground in Cambridge. It was one of the most famous cricket-pitches of that period and has been called 'one of the finest open spaces of any town in England'. (fn. 287)
Several clubs appear to have been established in Cambridge in the early 19th century. A team called St. Andrew's the Great played in 1811, (fn. 288) and in 1816 the Cambridge town club selected an eleven from various unnamed clubs in the town. Some clubs of the period took their names from inns: the Union club (1824), the Castle club (1825), and the Hoop club (1827) seem to have been the most prominent. The last was described as the 'celebrated Hoop club' in 1828. (fn. 289) The town team, representing several clubs, appears to have been very strong. In 1816 the 'respectable' townspeople gave a feast at the Castle inn for the Cambridge cricket club 'in compliment to their superior skill as cricketers'. (fn. 290) The town occasionally sent an eleven to play against twentytwo of another place. (fn. 291)
In 1813 a match was advertised between Cambridgeshire and Kent at Ickleton Abbey, (fn. 292) but it is not known whether it took place. The Cambridge town club appears to have acted as a 'town and county' side at that time. In 1823 Cambridge visited Lord's and defeated the Gentlemen Cadets of Woolwich. (fn. 293) Lord's was also the scene of a match with the M.C.C. in 1832 and, two years later, the town team played Nottingham. (fn. 294) The Cambridge Town and County Cricket Club was formed in 1844 (fn. 295) but had only a brief existence, for it had disappeared by 1851. (fn. 296)
By 1837 cricket was firmly established in Cambridgeshire. Besides those places already mentioned, teams are referred to at Thorney (1810), Leverington (1813), Doddington, Ickleton, and Kingston (1815), Duxford (1819), Bassingbourn (1820), Fulbourn (1825), Bourn, Downham, and Longstowe (1826), and Chesterton (1833). (fn. 297) Some teams may have been raised for one occasion only but by the middle of the century cricket was apparently played in most villages of the county.
The establishment of Fenner's as the university cricket-ground in 1848 (fn. 298) had important consequences for Cambridgeshire cricket. Parker's Piece became unsuitable for top-class cricket as the game became more sophisticated. It was a public place where anyone could set up wickets and play a match, and the unruly behaviour of the spectators caused the M.C.C. to refuse to play there. (fn. 299) Following the move to Fenner's the university club employed a number of professional cricketers to provide practice for its members, an example later followed by the colleges, which appointed 'custodians' for their grounds. The university professionals were available to play for Cambridgeshire, (fn. 300) and with their aid Cambridgeshire was able to field a strong side, though at first no regular county organization was established. The matches had to be financed by subscriptions raised for individual games. (fn. 301) In 1857 Cambridgeshire played Surrey at Fenner's (fn. 302) and in the following decade met most of the leading counties including Kent, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, and Yorkshire. Home matches were usually played at Fenner's or Parker's Piece, but a match was played against Yorkshire at Wisbech in 1867. (fn. 303) The county's strength was firmly based on the professionals, in particular Robert Carpenter, Thomas Hayward, George Tarrant, and William Buttress, all of whom ranked amongst the foremost cricketers in England, and were engaged on the ground-staff at Fenner's. (fn. 304) In 1861 Carpenter was said to be 'top of the tree' among English batsmen. (fn. 305) Hayward has been called the 'best all-round cricketer in England' of that period. (fn. 306) Tarrant was a fast bowler, and some have thought Buttress the 'father of leg-break bowling'. Two other prominent Cambridgeshire players were A. E. Diver and J. Smith. (fn. 307)
Cambridgeshire thus became one of the leading counties for cricket. In 1861 it was the only county to defeat Kent, which had twice beaten England elevens. (fn. 308) Inspired by such successes, efforts to form a county club were successful in 1866 when a club was formed under the presidency of H. J. Adeane. (fn. 309) It was dissolved, however, early in 1869, its failure ascribed to lack of funds. (fn. 310) For a short time the occasional county match continued to be played, (fn. 311) but Cambridgeshire was unable to maintain its position in relation to the better organized counties.
Apart from Cambridge itself the county had no large centres of population and there were few aristocratic patrons to offset the deficiency. The university and college matches also provided counterattractions. By the early 20th century, moreover, fewer professionals were employed at Fenner's and the college grounds, with the result that several fine cricketers left the county to follow their profession elsewhere. (fn. 312) Thomas Hayward, nephew of the Thomas Hayward of the 1860s, was born in Cambridge and played his early cricket for the Y.M.C.A. there. He joined Surrey, however, and was one of the leading batsmen of his time. (fn. 313) Sir John Berry ('Jack') Hobbs, one of the greatest of all cricketers, was the son of a groundsman at Jesus College and played as an amateur for Cambridgeshire in 1904 before qualifying for Surrey as a professional. (fn. 314)
In 1889 the Cambridgeshire Cricket Association was formed to regulate the game in the county. (fn. 315) The county club was established in 1891 and entered the minor counties competition. (fn. 316) Handicapped by inadequate support, its record has not been outstanding. Cambridgeshire did not win the minor counties championship until 1963. (fn. 317) In that season the county secured the services of J. H. Wardle (formerly of Yorkshire and England) and his bowling skill contributed substantially to the success. (fn. 318) The championship victory marked the close of the career of M. A. Crouch, who first played for Cambridgeshire in 1936 and captained the side 1949–63. (fn. 319) Cambridgeshire was admitted to the Gillette Cup competition in 1964 and became the first minor county to take part in it when defeated by Essex at Sawston. (fn. 320) In 1967 the club achieved its first victory in the competition by defeating Oxfordshire at Fenner's. (fn. 321) Cambridgeshire plays its county matches at Ely, March, Sawston, and Wisbech as well as at Fenner's. (fn. 322)
Cricket may well have made its appearance at Cambridge University by the early 18th century. One of the earliest known descriptions of a cricket match is contained in 95 lines of Latin verse in Musae Juveniles by William Goldwin, published in 1706 when the author, a fellow of King's, was living in or near Cambridge. (fn. 323) According to Wisden cricket was mentioned at the university in 1710. (fn. 324) In 1755 two matches were played at Cambridge between the gentlemen of Eton and the gentlemen of the university, and a similar match may have taken place the previous year. (fn. 325) It is likely that Eton School played a leading part in the introduction of cricket into the university as an important pastime. In 1788 the Etonians were said to have been more than a match for the rest of the university for the past 30 years. (fn. 326) In the early 19th century King's was clearly the leading college for cricket and could raise a side to play, and defeat, the rest of the university. The university, including King's, played Cambridge town in 1816, the first known record of the 'town and gown' match which was to become a highlight of the Cambridge cricket season. (fn. 327)
The Cambridge University Cricket Club was formed in 1820 under the management of two (later three) treasurers, of whom all were Old Etonians in 1824–5. The first match between Oxford and Cambridge universities was played at Lord's in 1827 and ended in a draw. The Cambridge captain was H. Jenner (later Jenner-Fust), the most celebrated Cambridge cricketer of the period. The match became an annual event from 1838, interrupted only by the world wars. Including the 1968 season, Cambridge had won 50 matches, Oxford 44, and 30 had been drawn. (fn. 328)
In its early days the university club appears to have played most of its games on Parker's Piece. The ground became unsuitable for the club's needs principally because of lack of adequate facilities for practice. In 1846 F. P. Fenner obtained a lease from Caius College of the ground in Gresham Road later called Fenner's. Two years later the university club leased the ground from Fenner. Fenner's immediately established the reputation, which it has retained, of being a very fine cricket-ground and thereafter the university played all its home matches there, except for the traditional 'town and gown' match on Parker's Piece. (fn. 329)
Cambridge University cricket has been described as rather primitive in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 330) The opening of Fenner's, where the university could 'practise free of annoyance', (fn. 331) and the encouragement given to the game by the college authorities as a harmless outlet for undergraduate energies (fn. 332) seem to have raised its quality and status. Other clubs were formed with close connexions with the university club; the most prominent was the Quidnuncs (1851). College teams became more important and some obtained their own grounds. In 1862 the master of Trinity initiated the scheme for his college's cricket-ground. The Corpus Christi club rented land for a pitch from its college in 1867. By 1873 Jesus, St. John's, and Caius also had cricketgrounds of their own, and most other colleges followed their example. (fn. 333)
The foundation of the Cambridge University Athletic Club in 1865 improved the financial position of the cricket club by attracting considerable crowds to Fenner's for athletics meetings. A large part of the cricket club's revenue was employed to engage the ground-staff of professional cricketers for which Fenner's became celebrated. That ambitious policy and the growth of college cricket strained the university club's resources and its financial position was precarious in 1878. The situation improved after 1881 when the M.C.C. began to pay annual subsidies to Oxford and Cambridge derived from the profits of the university match at Lord's. In 1895 the cricket and athletic clubs were able to purchase the freehold of Fenner's. (fn. 334)
The decades before the First World War probably marked the high-point of Cambridge University cricket. Visiting Australian sides were defeated in 1878 and 1882 (fn. 335) and it has been said that the team was at its strongest in the 1880s, the outstanding player being S. M. J. Woods, who later played for both England and Australia. (fn. 336) Many fine cricketers have played for Cambridge, and among them the following have captained England: G. O. Allen, the Hon. Ivo Bligh (later Lord Darnley), F. S. Brown, the Hon. F. S. G. Calthorpe, A. P. F. Chapman, E. R. Dexter, A. E. R. Gilligan, Martin, Lord Hawke (d. 1938), the Rt. Hon. Sir F. S. Jackson, A. O. Jones, F. G. Mann, F. T. Mann, P. B. H. May, C. A. Smith, and N. W. D. Yardley. In addition F. Mitchell captained South Africa, and F. C. M. Alexander the West Indies. (fn. 337)
In spite of the high quality of the cricket played at Fenner's, the university's matches have rarely attracted large numbers of spectators and the club was subjected to the same financial difficulties as county cricket in Cambridgeshire. A financial crisis during the Second World War was alleviated by an appeal for funds. (fn. 338) Later the M.C.C. subsidized Oxford and Cambridge universities from the profits made from tours by visiting international sides, and in 1965 each university received £2,250. (fn. 339)
Only the southern part of Cambridgeshire, away from the Fens, is suitable for fox-hunting. (fn. 340) That area, because of its relative lack of pasture land, is known as 'plough' country, and has been called the best of its kind in England. (fn. 341) To the south-east of the county, in the country of the Newmarket and Thurlow hunt, there are more ditches, posts, and rails, and one or two woodlands. (fn. 342) To the south-west, in the Cambridgeshire country, hunting was still c. 1960 'of the real, old-fashioned sort, depending entirely on the working qualities of the hounds, who generally have to do it all themselves'. (fn. 343) Hunting was evidently faster in the mid 19th century than in the 1960s, the wide grass headlands and lack of drains providing better scents. (fn. 344) Three small areas in the south are hunted by the Puckeridge, the East Essex, and the Essex. (fn. 345)
The county was not divided into well defined hunting countries until c. 1830. From the early 18th century it is probable that the later Cambridgeshire country was hunted, in part at least, by the FitzWilliam in the north and by the pack of the duke of Bedford in the south. (fn. 346) Smaller private packs emerged later in the century, and c. 1780 Maj.-Gen. Charles Barnett kept one at Stratton Park, near Biggleswade (Beds.). In the early part of the 19th century until 1827 part of the country was hunted by the Croxton, a pack kept by Sir George Leeds at Croxton Park. The pack was then taken over for two seasons by the Hurrell family and in 1830 it passed to Charles Barnett of Stratton Park, under whom the country was defined. (fn. 347) It stretches from Huntingdon in the north to Royston in the south and reaches slightly east of Cambridge. (fn. 348) Its western boundary takes in parts of Huntingdonshire and Bedfordshire.
Under Charles Barnett as master in 1830 the hitherto private pack became known as the Cambridgeshire. (fn. 349) An autocratic man, Barnett had some difficulties with shooting interests, but was on the whole backed by landowners, particularly by Lord Hardwicke of Wimpole Hall. Jack Ward, huntsman for 20 seasons, laid the foundations of a strong pack, but few others stayed with Barnett long enough. Barnett's mastership ended in 1867, and under his successor, Charles Newton, the hounds fell off. After 1870, under Charles Lindsell, a new pack was built up. The three succeeding masterships, between 1887 and 1893, were uneventful. In 1893 'the one and only Mr. George Evans, now one of the doyens of the fox-hunting world,' began a decade as master, with J. A. Fielden as joint-master from 1894 to 1896, and Col. Frank Shuttleworth from 1896 to 1903. George Smith-Bosanquet held the mastership from 1903 to 1906.
In 1906 Douglas Crossman of Gransden Hall, 'one of the great names in Cambridgeshire [hunting] history', became master, and held the office for 30 years. Under his guidance the Cambridgeshire was established as 'one of the best-bred packs in East Anglia'. From 1921 to 1932 G. R. C. Forster, of Anstey Hall, Trumpington, was joint master. He was succeeded by Noel Thornhill, of Diddington Hall (Hunts.). Crossman resigned in 1935, and R. Parker (1935–60), Mrs. Crossman (1935–53), and W. H. F. Brunskill (1935–8) became joint masters. Continuity was thus provided through the war years. The Crossman family continued active after the war, Mr. Douglas P. Crossman becoming jointmaster in 1946. S. C. Banks and Lt.-Col. J. A. Redman held similar office for a short while. In 1957 Mrs. Pemberton became joint-master, and was joined in 1960 by Mrs. D. P. Crossman and Mr. J. Capon. Mrs. Crossman and Mr. Capon still remained joint-masters in 1965. (fn. 350)
In 1964–5 the Cambridgeshire had 35 couple of hounds, kennelled since 1871 at Caxton. (fn. 351) The country, c. 20 miles square, and still largely 'plough', requires well-bred stout horses. Hunting-days are Tuesdays and Fridays; (fn. 352) before the Second World War Mondays were also regular days, and occasionally Saturdays. (fn. 353)
The Newmarket and Thurlow became an independent hunt in 1883 when the Suffolk was split. (fn. 354) Known then as the Thurlow, it hunted the country south-east of Cambridge, running with the northern boundaries of the Essex and the East Essex around Linton. (fn. 355) At its inception it was supported by the duke of Rutland, whose kennels at Belvoir produced the most sought-after hounds. (fn. 356) Jesser Coope was the first master. (fn. 357) Under W. H. Pemberton Barnes (master 1896–1901) and the Revd. Sir William Hyde Parker, Bt. (master 1902–6), the hunt prospered in a limited way, though in 1910 it was said that, as in 1800, 'foxes and subscriptions are damnably short'. (fn. 358) The position improved during the mastership of Col. Edmund Deacon (1910–12). In 1934, the first year of the mastership of his son, Lt.Col. E. H. Deacon, with Harry Turner from the Craven as huntsman, 28 brace of foxes were killed, a record for the county. (fn. 359) The construction of an airfield near Thurlow (Suff.) in the 1930s and the increase in stud farms around Newmarket threatened to curtail the activities of the hunt before the Second World War. (fn. 360) During the war the pack was kept in being by the Taylor family, and during the post-war years the hunt owed much to the exertions of Harvey Leader, master until 1956. (fn. 361) He was succeeded, after one season, by Col. D. R. B. Kaye (1957–9) and Mr. J. P. N. Parker (1959–62). (fn. 362) Mrs. R. H. D. Riggall became master in 1962. The country extends c. 19 miles from north to south and 15 miles in breadth. The kennels, near Little Thurlow, are in Great Bradley (Suff.), and huntingdays are Mondays and Thursdays. (fn. 363)
The rivers of Cambridgeshire (fn. 364) form part of the complex system of waterways both natural and artificial which drain from the east Midlands into the Wash. The principal river is the Great Ouse which flowed through the heart of the county until the 17th century when most of its waters were diverted at Earith (Hunts.) into the Old Bedford (or Counterwash) and New Bedford (or Hundred Foot) rivers. The old course of the Ouse, known as far as Streatham as the Old West river, is joined by its tributaries, the Cam, Lark, and Little Ouse before rejoining the Bedford rivers at Denver (Norf.). Between the Old Bedford river and the Nene, which flows through the north-west of the county, the fens are crossed by numerous drains and dykes, the most important of which are Morton's Learn, Whittlesey Dyke, the Twenty Foot river, the old River Nene, the Forty Foot drain, and the Sixteen Foot river.
Thus a considerable amount of water is available to the angler, although improved pumping methods have recently reduced the water level in many of the drains with consequent damage to the fishing. (fn. 365) The broad, slow-moving rivers abound with many varieties of coarse fish; trout are restricted to the upper reaches of the Ouse's tributaries which flow through the chalk uplands.
William of Malmesbury commented on the quantity and variety of the fish in the neighbourhood of Ely, (fn. 366) which almost certainly derived its name from the abundance of eels in the district. (fn. 367) The significance of that fish in the economies of many fenland settlements in the Middle Ages is amply attested by the numerous eel-rents recorded in Domesday. (fn. 368) The town of Cambridge attached great importance to its fishing rights. In the late 17th century its mayors still asserted those rights by ceremonial fishing expeditions on the river which had become festive occasions. (fn. 369) The transformation of fishing in Cambridgeshire from a means of livelihood pursued with nets into a sport followed with rod and line is probably comparatively recent. By the beginning of the 19th century the county was a resort for sporting fishermen and the fishing was excellent on many stretches of the Cam, especially near Cambridge, with good trolling for pike and angling for perch. (fn. 370) Large pike, bream, perch, and other fish were to be found in the fenland meres. (fn. 371)
The development of fishing in Cambridgeshire as a popular and organized recreation probably dates from the later 19th century. In the 1870s angling societies began to be formed. One of the most prominent of the early clubs, the Cambridge Angling and Fish Preservation Society, was still in existence in 1968, as was the Cambridge Albion club, another early society. A Cambridge and Ely angling society was in existence by 1883. (fn. 372) Outside the county town the Over and Swavesey and the Whittlesey clubs were established in the early 20th century. The number of clubs has grown with the development of fishing from an individual's recreation into a competitive field-sport. By 1968 there were some 24 clubs affiliated to the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Federation of Anglers, the county organization for the sport. The federation is represented on the Great Ouse Fishery Consultative Association which in turn works closely with the river authority.
The waters of Cambridgeshire, relatively free from pollution, have also attracted numbers of anglers from outside the county, particularly from industrial districts. The London Anglers' Association rented water on the Ouse at Huntingdon by 1900 and by 1909 a stretch between Littleport and Ely with another on the river Lark. (fn. 373) The association remained active in the area in 1968. Sheffield angling societies have long rented stretches of river in Cambridgeshire. Both the Sheffield and District Anglers' Association Limited and the Sheffield Amalgamated Anglers' Society have much water in the county, especially in the Wisbech area. (fn. 374) The arrival of large parties of anglers at weekends, notably from the London area, is a marked feature of Cambridgeshire fishing.
The Ouse and Cam Fishery Board was formed in 1928, under an Act of 1927, (fn. 375) to control the fisheries of the Ouse system. The Nene and Welland board was formed in 1929. (fn. 376) The Sixteen Foot river and Middle Level drain formed the boundary between the two authorities. (fn. 377) The Ouse board's first concern was with pollution. Until the 1920s that had not been very serious in a predominantly agricultural and thinly populated area; one of the greatest hazards to fish was the washings from tarred roads. (fn. 378) In 1925 three beet sugar factories were opened alongside rivers flowing through the county, (fn. 379) including the Ely Beet Sugar Factory north of Ely, (fn. 380) and almost immediately great numbers of fish were killed by the effluent. The severest losses were probably suffered between Ely and Denver Sluice in October 1929 after a very dry summer. In 1930 the Ouse and Cam board secured a conviction against the Ely factory for polluting the river (fn. 381) and in 1931 C. T. Nicholls, owner of the fishery belonging to Littleport manor, obtained an injunction restraining the factory from polluting the river. (fn. 382) The actions led to improved methods of treating and disposing of sugar beet effluent and averted a threat to the county's fisheries. The fishery boards made efforts to improve the waters in other ways such as restocking, especially with trout, and enforcing the statutory close season for coarse fish.
After the Second World War the work of the boards was assumed by the Great Ouse River Authority and the Nene River Board. Considerable progress has been made in freeing the rivers from pollution. The most serious problem on the Cam has become industrial effluent from the city of Cambridge. Concern has also been growing over the polluting effects of silage and agricultural chemicals. The river authorities have also engaged in restocking, particularly with fish such as dace which are especially susceptible to pollution. Fish are taken from enclosed waters or trout-streams and placed in stretches of river which chemical and biological surveys have indicated are suitable for the particular fish.
Rivers have been increasingly used for recreations other than fishing and the larger Cambridgeshire rivers are navigable by small boats. Boating has tended to conflict with angling and the Ouse river authority has in consequence banned water ski-ing, except on enclosed waters, throughout its area.
Cambridgeshire's reputation for fishing rests almost entirely on its coarse fish. Salmon may formerly have been found in the Ouse, but obstacles to their passage, erected in draining the Fens, made their ascent of the river impossible except at times of very high flood. (fn. 383) In 1807 a salmon caught in the Cam near Jesus Green sluice was said to have been the first ever caught so high up the river. (fn. 384) By the 20th century salmon were thought to be entirely absent from the area. (fn. 385) In 1967, however, a live salmon was caught at Huntingdon, thought to be the first such fish taken alive from the Ouse for many years. Its ascent of the river had been facilitated by a notch cut in Brownshill (or Bluntisham) Staunch to allow the passage of sea trout. The notch and the reduction of pollution may eventually lead to the return of salmon regularly to the Ouse.
The brown trout is indigenous to the upper reaches of the Cam or Rhee, the Essex Cam, the Granta or Bourne, and similar chalk streams. The fish were, however, long neglected and suffered severely from pollution. By the 1930s interest in trout-fishing in the county had been renewed (fn. 386) and successful efforts have been made to preserve and restock suitable stretches of water with brown trout. The river authority has its own trout hatchery at Snailwell. The introduction of rainbow trout to Cambridgeshire waters has been less successful and constant restocking with that species is necessary.
Game fishing still provides, however, a very small proportion of the total sport in the area. It has been said that 'the fame of the Ouse as a big-fish river is founded on its bream'. (fn. 387) The statement remains broadly true, although some authorities have claimed that bream-fishing has declined since the late 19th century, possibly owing to over-fishing. (fn. 388) Bream are largest and most plentiful in the Ouse in its lower reaches from Ely and Littleport to Denver. There the river is broad and deep and the bream shoal in the centre stream. In the late 19th century the Old West river was said to contain bream surpassing those in the Ouse in both size and quality, (fn. 389) but that is no longer true. Many large bream are also found in the Nene and the fen drains. Although the area tends to produce large numbers of mediumsized fish, bream of 6 lb. are commonly found throughout the lower Ouse and the fens. (fn. 390)
Roach (fn. 391) are extremely plentiful throughout the area but do not usually attain great size. The largest specimens are probably caught in the higher reaches of the rivers, particularly the Cam. Rudd have always been less plentiful than roach but reach a higher average weight. The fen drains provide ideal conditions for rudd, and specimens as large as 2 lb. are taken. Tench were formerly rather scarce in the Ouse, although the Old West river contained some notable fish. In 1939, however, tench were said to be 'coming back to the Ouse', (fn. 392) and they survived pollution better than many other fish. The small fen drains are especially noted for the tench they contain. Perch are fairly common throughout the area, but the best are to be found in the fen drains, particularly the Forty Foot. Dace are plentiful though they suffered heavy losses from pollution on both the Ouse and Cam, and considerable restocking has been necessary.
The rivers are also well stocked with pike, and in the 1930s pike-fishing was said to be improving. The largest pike, weighing over 20 lb., are found mostly in the fen drains. Although often regarded as a nuisance, pike are not usually removed from the rivers, except trout waters, but are allowed to remain as a balancing factor in the fish population. Coarse fish, particularly pike, were formerly caught for food, but social changes have almost entirely ended the practice. Few fish are taken from the rivers of Cambridgeshire and killed, and predators like pike help to thin the fish population, thus allowing the survivors to attain a greater size.
The lower Ouse and the fens swarm with eels, the importance of which has been mentioned above. Eels were still fished commercially on quite a large scale as late as the 1930s. Nets and traps were placed across the rivers to intercept them on their way to the sea to spawn. By 1968, however, commercial eel-fishing had greatly declined and only a few parttime eel-trappers remained in the area. Few anglers set out to catch eels for sport, although the National Anguilla Club hunts for specimen fish. Like pike, eels are generally allowed to remain in the waters as a balancing element, in spite of their unpopularity with many anglers.
Wildfowling and shooting
The waters, marshes, and reeds of the Fens have for long been the haunt of a wide variety of wildfowl which for the most part provided the inhabitants of the area with a source of food and income, and only comparatively recently became the quarry of sportsmen. (fn. 393) The fenman whose livelihood rested solely on fowling in winter and reed-cutting and fishing in summer and autumn still persisted in isolated places until the beginning of the 20th century, (fn. 394) but at the latest by the end of the 18th century, and almost certainly earlier, sportsmen were making regular appearances in the area, and by the end of the 19th century organized shoots were held, notably at Wicken Fen. (fn. 395)
The abundant wildfowl which so amazed William of Malmesbury in the 12th century (fn. 396) were probably taken in drives or in flight nets. (fn. 397) Driving moulting or young birds into nets was certainly the chief means of capture in the 15th and 16th centuries, 3,000 birds at a time being taken in a single net in Lincolnshire. (fn. 398) It is probable that nets were already used to catch birds in flight, a practice which continued until modern times. (fn. 399) Hawking could not be successfully practised in the marshes, but the fenland provided the quarry: in 1623 Sir Edward Peyton was allowed to take 100 partridges each year from the Isle of Ely and elsewhere in the Fens 'where gentlemen cannot hawk' to plant them at his own charge in the open country around Isleham and Newmarket. (fn. 400) Five years later Christopher Walton was permitted to use 'nets, trammels, or any other engine' to take partridges and other fowl to improve the stock of the king's game near Royston and Newmarket. (fn. 401)
Fears that draining the Fens in the 17th century would cause wildfowl to disappear were dismissed by Dugdale who, writing at the instance (fn. 402) of Lord Gorges, surveyor-general in the Fens, argued that the meres and lakes still survived, that the new rivers and channels provided additional expanses of water, and that decoys, 'whereby greater numbers of fowl are caught', could be constructed only in comparatively dry areas. (fn. 403) Decoys, from the Dutch word eendenkooi, meaning a duck cage, seem to have originated in the early 17th century as a means of taking wildfowl, and had been introduced into the Fens by about 1650. (fn. 404) A decoy constructed at Chatteris apparently by Col. Valentine Walton was destroyed at the Restoration. (fn. 405) Dry areas were essential for the construction of the small expanses of tree-lined water, planned to include branching channels or 'pipes' covered by nets, along which wildfowl could be persuaded to swim after tamed decoy ducks or dogs. Large numbers of fowl were caught in nets at the ends of the channels and sent to the London markets. (fn. 406) Apart from the Chatteris decoy, there was one at Leverington, sited near Decoy Farm in the parish, (fn. 407) which probably went out of use c. 1780; (fn. 408) and others at Whittlesey, where there is also a Decoy Farm, (fn. 409) and Tydd St. Giles. (fn. 410) Outside the Fens there was a decoy pond in Arrington in 1948, (fn. 411) but in 1954 there were said to be none in use in the county. (fn. 412)
In practice, the draining works in the 17th century still left large expanses of water and marsh, particularly in the winter, and by the end of the 18th century parts of the Fens had returned to their original state. (fn. 413) Decoys thus gave place to driving by the Fen slodgers, and to the extensive use of flight nets. The mallard, teal, and pochard usually taken in the decoys (fn. 414) were found in Cambridge market in the early years of the 19th century with snipe, hitherto usually shot, but later more often taken in nets. (fn. 415) Flight nets trapped curlew, knots, stints, widgeon, plover, and larks in large numbers. (fn. 416) Plover-netting was practised extensively until declared illegal in 1927, and Ernest James, of Welney, claimed 824 plovers in one week. (fn. 417) About 1900, when other work was scarce, larks were caught which fetched from 1s. to 1s. 9d. a dozen. (fn. 418)
Shot snipe, and no doubt other fowl, were to be found in abundance in Cambridge market in the 1770s where they sold at from 3d. to 5d. each. (fn. 419) The increasing use of flight nets and the consequent fall in the demand for shot birds seems not to have affected seriously the fowler using firearms for profit as well as for pleasure. Individuals like John D'Oyly, an undergraduate at Corpus Christi college in the 1790s, and the members of the 'Upware Republic', meeting at 'The Five Miles From Anywhere, No Hurry' in the 1850s, were able to shoot unhindered in the Fens simply for amusement. (fn. 420) At least from the beginning of the 19th century bank- and punt-gunners sought their livelihood in the area. The former, using 6- or 8bore guns with barrels 6 ft. long, stalked fowl from the banks of washes, firing through the reeds from the water's edge. Punt-gunners, some few of whom still practise their art, were active on the shallow washes which appeared in winter. Their weapons were muzzle-loaders, often more than 8 ft. long, with a bore of 1¼ inch, mounted in clinker-built punts or occasionally in hard winters, on sledges. The guns, discharging small shot, produced enormous bags. Ernest James in 1943 accounted for 68 green plover with one shot, and in 1948 for 48 widgeon also with one shot. In the hard winter of 1947 the ice kept the duck in open water, and James shot 200 in a week. (fn. 421) Among notable punt-gunners were James Smart and George See, the leading speed skaters of the district; Ernest James himself was also a prominent skater. (fn. 422) Since the Second World War, however, puntgunning has declined throughout the Fens, and by 1954 only a few professionals were to be found. (fn. 423)
Increasingly effective drainage and the reclamation of land during the Second World War has circumscribed the haunts of wildfowl; the only fen to survive is at Wicken, where a 700-a. peat digging on a bulb-farm reverted to reeds and water between the wars. (fn. 424) Mr. James Wentworth Day bought the neighbouring Adventurers' Fen in 1935 (fn. 425) and recreated the area as it had been in the 1880s and 1890s, when a day often yielded two or three bittern—'the fenman's Sunday joint'—six or eight species of duck, and 30 or 40 couple of snipe. In the late 1930s a shoot at Wicken often produced over 70 duck in a morning, including mallard, teal, shoveller, tufted duck, pochard, widgeon, gadwall, and occasionally garganey. Grey geese, black-necked grebe, and Montague's harriers were also found there. (fn. 426) An area known as the Poors' Fen at Wicken, where villagers formerly cut sedge for thatch, and thus kept it short, was an admirable place for shooting snipe. Up to 1,000 wildfowl a year were also taken from Burwell Fen until it was drained during the Second World War. (fn. 427) Adventurers' Fen was drained at the same time, (fn. 428) but Wicken is preserved by the National Trust.
Apart from water birds, the Fens contain, for example, numbers of pheasant and partridge. The former were found in the dense undergrowth of Wicken Fen (fn. 429) and in the sugar beet which was grown extensively between the wars. Partridge were said before the Second World War to be 'in moderate supply' but little rearing or keepering was done in the area, in striking contrast to the remainder of the county. Cambridgeshire, with Norfolk and Suffolk, has been considered among 'the pick of the English counties for game', (fn. 430) and contained at Cheveley, at the end of the 19th century, 'almost the finest partridge ground in England'. (fn. 431) The distinction rests on the highly preserved partridge and pheasant manors around Newmarket and Royston.
Horse-racing provided an impetus to the development of organized partridge-shooting in the Newmarket area, though even so early as the beginning of the 17th century wildfowl and game were being preserved for James I within 12 miles' compass of the town. (fn. 432) Charles, duke of Rutland (d. 1787), and his son and heir John (d. 1857) provided shooting for their guests at Cheveley in the mornings before racing began in the afternoons, (fn. 433) and in 1808 the house was said to be seldom inhabited by the duke, except during the shooting season. (fn. 434) It was no unusual occurrence for the 5th duke and his guests to shoot 100 brace of partridge there, or 'make an immense bag' of pheasants and hares at the Links. (fn. 435) By the end of the 19th century the Cheveley estate and others in the area were commanding 'immense sporting rents', and members of the Jockey Club were to be found on them during race meetings. (fn. 436)
The greatest shooting estate in the county was at Six Mile Bottom, first developed along modern lines by Gen. John Hall (d. 1872), who planted belts and coverts to give the maximum of high, fast birds under all conditions. In so doing he took the advice of Thomas, Lord Walsingham (d. 1919), perhaps the finest shot of his day. (fn. 437) On a shooting day village schools for miles around were closed to provide enough beaters. (fn. 438) In 1869 9 guns killed 970 brace of partridge in four days in drives at Six Mile Bottom, (fn. 439) a record broken in 1930 when 8 guns killed 703½ brace in only one day. (fn. 440) The duke of Cambridge acquired the shooting on the estate after Gen. Hall's death. (fn. 441)
By the end of the 19th century the leading shooting properties included Cheveley, purchased by Henry McCalmont, (fn. 442) Chippenham Park, which disputes with Heveningham (Suff.) the claim to be the birthplace of partridge-driving, (fn. 443) Capt. Machell's estate at Dullingham, C. R. W. Adeane's at Babraham Hall, and Dalham Hall. Cecil Rhodes, who is said to have bought Dalham Hall from Sir Robert Affleck simply on the evidence of the game bags, stocked the park with black rabbits and white pheasants. (fn. 444) Stetchworth Park, with bag records virtually complete from 1914, provided partridge, pheasant, hare, rabbit, pigeon, and, occasionally, woodcock. (fn. 445) In the 1930s Babraham Hall still had 'really excellent partridge-shooting, high pheasants, and, above all, some of the best pigeon-shooting in the whole country'. (fn. 446) Wilbraham Temple, Bottisham Park, Fulbourn Manor, Gogmagog Park, and Fordham Abbey, all in the neighbourhood of Newmarket, also showed good partridge-shooting in the 1930s. In the south of the county, around Royston, the Fordham family and Lord Hampden owned good partridge land, but the large shoot at Wimpole Hall suffered when the estate was broken up. Similarly, by the 1930s, the Cheveley estate had been divided into a number of stud farms and small holdings, thus ending its history as a great shooting estate. (fn. 447)
Since the Second World War significant changes have taken place in Cambridgeshire as elsewhere. (fn. 448) Many of the large estates have been divided, and smaller units run by owner-farmers or small syndicates are numerous. The growing cost of rearing, keepering, and hiring beaters has raised the cost of a gun in a large syndicate from £4–7 a year before the war to £15–35. Scientific farming methods and the demand of syndicates for regular shooting have contributed to the replacement of the partridge by the pheasant. (fn. 449) Many hedges, the habitat of the partridge, have been removed, and winter cover and food are becoming increasingly limited by the disappearance of grass leys. Similarly, bare areas in cereal crops which gave chicks safe places to dry after rain, and weeds which harboured insects vital to their early survival, have been eliminated by improved husbandry. Despite the increase of the hardier red-leg partridge, able to exist on bare plough in winter, numbers have fallen. Pheasant, easier to breed and rear, and therefore providing regular and ample stocks, are present in much greater numbers. At Stetchworth, for example, the pheasant clearly predominates. (fn. 450) Between 1954 and 1966 on the same estate hares came second in point of numbers, usually followed by pigeons. Bags of partridge varied considerably, and a few woodcock occurred. Before the disappearance of rabbits in the early 1950s they, too, were shot at Stetchworth in large numbers, varying in the period 1934–52 from over 1,000 to over 5,000 each year.
Despite the eclipse of the partridge, which had given the county its reputation for game, Cambridgeshire is still considered an area of high game potential, based on barley acreage, game bag, and the frequency of large holdings. (fn. 451) Six Mile Bottom, Dullingham, Stetchworth, and Chippenham remain the leading shooting properties in the county, but there is much activity also on the smaller units into which much of the rest of the game areas of the county have been divided.
The Fen country, often the first area to be affected by frost, has made the northern part of Cambridgeshire, together with portions of Lincolnshire, Huntingdonshire, and Norfolk, the centre of outdoor speed skating in England. (fn. 452) Until the Second World War, indeed, residents of the area dominated both the professional and the amateur championships organized by the National Skating Association, itself founded in Cambridge.
Speed skating upon iron or steel keels, or blades, was probably introduced from Holland by refugees in the 16th century. (fn. 453) The sport was at first confined to rivers and dykes, but Whittlesey Mere (since drained), (fn. 454) Lingey Fen, Swavesey, Cowbit Wash (Lincs.), and Bury Fen (Hunts.) provided broader skating areas, and others appeared in times of flood. At such times the areas were so extensive that a certain Francis Drake, of the Bedford Level Corporation, was said to have skated in 1799 from Whittlesey Mere across the county to Mildenhall (Suff.). (fn. 455) From the end of the 19th century until the Second World War most of the championship races were held within Cambridgeshire; Lingey Fen in Haslingfield parish and adjoining Grantchester was the most usual meeting place, chiefly because of its size and shallowness. Since the war, however, Bury Fen, near St. Ives, and later Tongue End, near Spalding, have been used. (fn. 456) An artificial rink at Littleport was popular for about two years at the end of the 19th century, (fn. 457) and championship matches have also been held on Mere Fen near Swavesey, and at Welney.
Speed skating in the form in which it was imported from Holland, where it was practised on canals and rivers, consisted either in a long straight course, or in a short course with several turns, usually round a barrel. The latter was favoured, and the Dutch seem to have preferred a course of a mile with five or six turns. There is evidence of such courses in England, but by 1826 a course of two miles with three turns had become general in Cambridgeshire. The need for popular support, however, forced skating from the rivers to stretches of flooded land, where reduced courses encouraged more spectators. (fn. 458) A course of a mile and a half with three turns was established, though the turns were more numerous if ice was limited; that length remains the standard. After the First World War an oval course, as used on the continent, was introduced. There are two tracks, the competitors skating one lap on the inside and one on the outside, changing over at a given point. The system compensates for the disadvantage of losing the toss, and enables the public to see the whole of the race.
The first recorded race in the area was in 1814 at Ramsey (Hunts.), when Youngs, of Mepal, beat Thompson, of Wimblington. Thompson was then referred to as 'famous' which implies that racing had been established for some years. Youngs later beat Dyalls on Whittlesey Mere for a prize of £20 and won a silver cup at Chatteris by defeating Hicklin, of Crowland (Lincs.), and was acclaimed 'champion'. (fn. 459) Other prominent skaters c. 1820 were E. J. and C. Staples, of Crowland, J. and R. Young, of Nordelph (Norf.), John, William, and Matthew Drake, of Chatteris, and Ayres and J. Gittam, of Nordelph. (fn. 460) In 1818 Gittam was beaten by one of the Staples brothers, but in 1820 he won against Ayres at Mepal Washes, (fn. 461) and raced at Crowland for 5 guineas. A Mr. Woodward backed him for £100 to run a straight mile with a flying start in less than three minutes. The feat was said to have been performed at Prickwillow on 4 Jan. 1821 with seven seconds to spare. (fn. 462) In that year James May, of Outwell, won a silver cup at Upwell which was still in existence at the end of the century. (fn. 463)
The winter of 1822–3 was severe, and ice on the popular Whittlesey Mere was strong enough to bear donkeys, carts, and booths. (fn. 464) Skaters seized the opportunity and races took place throughout the Fens. Amateurs from Chatteris beat those from March on the Forty Foot drain to win £10; J. Young beat Trower, of Upwell, at Wisbech; (fn. 465) and two skaters from Crowland challenged two from Nordelph at Crowland. In the final race Gittam beat Charles Staples. (fn. 466) In the same year, on 14 January, a memorable race was held at Carter's Bridge, on the Forty Foot drain near Chatteris. An engraving of the event, (fn. 467) showing the end of one of the heats, indicates the sharp turns of the up and down course. The Wisbech coach is pulled up at the bridge to allow passengers to watch the skating, the Chatteris band plays in a lighter frozen in the river, and an old man dispenses gin. For this race the sixteen best professional skaters of the district were selected by a committee, and the winner was Young, of Nordelph, who beat Bradford, of Farcet (Hunts.), in the final. (fn. 468)
No other considerable skaters emerged until 1854; for more than twenty years after that date skating in the county was dominated by two men, William 'Turkey' Smart and W. 'Gutta-Percha' See, both from the village of Welney (Norf.). (fn. 469) A race at Mepal in 1878 marked the emergence of their successors, George 'Fish' Smart, 'Turkey's' nephew, and George See, 'Gutta-Percha's' son. (fn. 470)
The increasing popularity of skating necessitated an organization to control and encourage the sport. The National Skating Association was formed in Cambridge in 1879 as the result of a public meeting. The duke of Devonshire, the earl of Leicester, and the lord lieutenant of the county (C. W. Townley) were elected presidents, H. Rance, then mayor of Cambridge, became treasurer, and James Drake Digby honorary secretary. Apart from the promotion of amateur and professional speed skating championships, the aims of the association were to establish standards for figure skating, provide rules for 'the game of hockey on ice', and establish international contests. The headquarters of the N.S.A. remained at Cambridge until 1894, and one of its most prominent presidents was Lord Downham, a native of Downham, through whose persuasion the prince of Wales presented a cup for the amateur championship, on condition that it should always be skated for in the Fens. A number of Cambridgeshire men were also prominent in the establishment of the International Skating Union in 1892.
After the establishment of organized championships professional and amateur races were held regularly. (fn. 471) George 'Fish' Smart won the professional title in 1879, 1881, and 1887. He was followed by his brother James, also from Welney, who was champion in 1889, 1890, and 1895, and by George See (Welney, 1892). Amateur champions during the same period were F. Norman (Willingham, 1880, 1881), R. Wallis (Thorney, 1887), W. Loveday (Welney, 1889, 1890), W. Housden (Upware, 1891), J. C. Aveling (March, 1892), and A. E. Tebbit (Wentworth, Ely, 1895, 1900, 1902, 1905). Skaters from Welney, the 'metropolis of speed skating', thus dominated the championships until the beginning of the 20th century. Professional champions since 1900 have included F. Ward (Sutton St. Edmund (Lincs.), 1900, 1905), J. Bates (Leigh (Lancs.), 1902), S. Greenhall (Landbeach, 1908, 1912), D. Pearson (Mepal, 1929, 1933, 1936), R. W. Scott (Welney, 1947), and N. Young (Wisbech) who won for the fourth time in 1963. (fn. 472) Amateur champions for the same period included F. W. Dix (Raunds (Northants.), 1908, 1909, and 1912), C. W. Horn (Upwell, 1927, 1929, and 1933), H. J. Howes (Aldwych Club, London, 1947), P. Sheer (Aldwych Club, 1951), and A. Bloom (Diss (Norf.), 1962). (fn. 473) The 1951 time of 4 mins. 38.8 secs. for the 1½ mile is a record. Other records include that set by 'Fish' Smart in 1881 of a mile with a flying start in three minutes at Cowbit Wash, which was beaten in 1912 by F. W. Dix. In long-distance skating James Smart covered 10 miles at Spalding in 36 min. 39 sec., and A. E. Tebbit and H. A. Palmer skated a dead heat of 37½ miles from Cambridge to Ely and back in 2 hr. 1 min. 11 sec. A. E. Tebbit, four times amateur champion, also won the Duddleston and Cameron cups twice each. C. W. Horn, three times amateur champion, won the Prince of Orange Bowl (presented in 1890 for an international amateur race) once, the Duddleston Cup twice, and the Cameron Cup, together with other prizes in London.
The appearance of foreign skaters in England resulted in the introduction of the faster Norwegian skate which gradually replaced the old Fen runners or 'pattens', and also provided a greater number of contests. Among the earliest visitors from abroad were J. F. Donoghue from America and J. J. Eden and Martin Kingma from Holland. (fn. 474) In 1890 Donoghue skated 1½ mile in 4 min. 46 sec. on Lingey Fen. At about the same time Cambridgeshire skaters including 'Fish' and James Smart and George See went to Holland to take part in races there. James Smart won the Two Miles International Race at Amsterdam in 1887, with George See second. (fn. 475)
The game of bandy, (fn. 476) or hockey on ice, seems to have originated in Cambridgeshire. The game, played with a round, solid cat, roughly the size of a tennis ball, and a bandy, or bent stick, varied from place to place, and not until about 1890 were the rules of the Bury Fen club accepted as universal. Definite records of that club begin in 1814, and show that the game was played within a fairly small radius of the Fen. The Bury Fen club itself drew its players from the village of Bluntisham cum Earith (Hunts.), and the club remained unbeaten for 76 years. Only during the last decade of the 19th century did the game begin to extend beyond the area. Leading Cambridgeshire skaters encouraged its adoption elsewhere in the country and also on the continent. In 1890–1 the Bury Fen club, including five members of the Tebbutt family, introduced the game into Holland. (fn. 477) The modern game of ice hockey has taken its place.