With the kind assistance of the Brasenose College Archives, the history of the BNC Boat Club is coming alive in time for the bicentenary of the first Summer Eights, which BNC won. This race was also the first ever race between rowing clubs, making BNC BC and JCBC the oldest competitive rowing clubs in the world.
The BNC BC History Project is significant because the sport of modern rowing began at Oxford with our college and Jesus. More importantly, it provides a unique insight into the social history of the college in the 19th and 20th centuries.
For 200 years now, rowing has been part of the social fabric of Oxford and of Brasenose College. Without the lead from BNC there would be no Torpids, no Summer Eights, and indeed no Boat Race.
Surprisingly, research to date seems to suggest that the Father of Oxford Rowing may well have been Thomas Morres, a one armed man who came up to Brasenose in 1813 and who seems to have rowed in the Childe of Hale from 1815 to 1820. Morres later became a priest, but returned to row in a match race between a BNC four and a Jesus four in 1824. He walked the thirty miles from his parish to Oxford on the morning of the race, and still won!
Light is also being shed on other extraordinary Brasenose members who rowed for the College, and who went on to become bishops, judges, war heroes, authors and even Prime Ministers. It shows that at Brasenose, the formation of well rounded people capable of contributing to society has long involved more than just scholarship, but endeavour as well.
An abridged version of the first chapter of the forthcoming BNC BC History is available at: https://www.academia.edu/10614788/Brasenose_College_and_the_Origins_of_Oxford_Rowing. Further portions of the project will be published from time to time.
Old members who wish to contribute are most welcome, and should contact the College Archives, or William O’Chee at firstname.lastname@example.org.