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Balliol College Boat Club

Balliol College Boat Club (BCBC) is the rowing club for members of Balliol College, Oxford, England. It is one of the college boat clubs at the University of Oxford.

Balliol College Boat Club
Oxford boathouse 7.jpg
Balliol College Rowing Blade.svg
Balliol Boathouse (left) and Rowing Blade colours
Home waterRiver Thames (Isis)
Foundedc. 1840
Captain of coxesTobias Dirnhuber
  • Men: Ben Hubbert
  • Women: Jennifer Bright
Senior MemberDouglas Dupree
Head of the River
  • Men: 1851, 1855, 1859, 1860, 1873, 1879, 1952, 1955, 1956, 2008
  • Women: 2010, 2011
UniversityUniversity of Oxford
AffiliationsSt John's College, Cambridge (Sister college)

Balliol College also competes at external regattas including Marlow Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta.


An 1840s depiction of Balliol College's rowing outfit, including a blue bonnet with a chequered red, green and white band and jersey with thin red vertical stripes.[1]

The earliest definite allusion to Balliol rowing is in 1823, when there was a “boat match between the Rowers of Balliol and Christ Church, which was won by the former, after a well-contested race.”[2] Balliol was certainly one of the four colleges competing in an eight in the summer races of 1825. Two Balliol men rowed for Oxford in the first University Boat Race at Henley in 1829, in a boat lent by Balliol for the occasion.[3]

The Balliol College Archives have much material concerning the Boat Club from about 1840 onwards.[citation needed] The Buttery has an extensive collection of sports photographs and trophies including many to do with the Boat Club. Although it is questioned whether an official boat club existed until the 1850s.[4]

The base of the Boat Club for the latter part of the 19th century and much of the 20th century was a grand barge, which was moored on the River Thames at the south side of Christ Church Meadow. The barge was bought from the Skinners' Company in 1859.[5] The present boathouse (semi-detached, with New College occupying the other half) was opened in May 1959. The barge was on view in 1996 at Henley, when it was up for auction.[citation needed]

The first recorded headship by Balliol College was in 1851, bumping Wadham College on the first day,[6] and later they reclaimed headship in 1855 on the seventh night after bumping Brasenose College.[7] The College has been Head of the River in the Summer Eights many times, notably a longish run in the 1950s and also regaining the Headship in 2008. Balliol's previous last reign at the Head of the River was when they were head of Torpids for three consecutive years (1968–71).

At Henley Royal Regatta, Balliol has won the following events:[8]

  • Ladies Plate – 1855, 1858, 1890, 1891
  • Visitors' Cup – 1899


Famous Balliol oarsmen have included Lord Justice Chitty, Edmond Warre (Head Master of Eton), Frederick Septimus Kelly (composer, killed in France 1916: considered one of the greatest oarsmen of all time having won at least one event at Henley Royal Regatta each year from 1902–1906 and Olympic gold in 1908), Cardinal Heard, Dan Snow (three time 'Blue' and 2001 OUBC president), HM King Olav V of Norway and HM King Harald V of Norway (who was taught to row by fellow student Nick Bevan, later a rowing coach).


Not having traditionally been a "rowing college" over much of the 20th century, Balliol College has few rivalries with other Oxford colleges. However, the Balliol/Trinity rivalry is felt more recently,[when?] as Trinity has caught up with Balliol in Summer Eights, and Balliol has defeated Trinity to claim victory in Christ Church Regatta both in 2013.[9][10]

Recent formEdit

Balliol College 1st VIII rowing to the Summer Eights Headship in 2008.
Balliol College bumping St Catherine's College at Torpids in 2010.

In 2008, Balliol's Men regained the Head of the River in the Oxford Summer Eights competition, the first time in 52 years. As of 29 May 2010, the College's women are currently placed "Head of the River" in the Summer Eights. The club has a history of developing new talent, and the club's lower boats have also performed very well in recent years. The combined efforts of the more experienced oarsmen and a talented crop of novices helped BCBC to top the bumps charts for both Torpids and Summer Eights in 2008 and 2009. The BCBC Torpids campaign of 2008 was the most successful campaign by an Oxford University college on record, with the five crews entered by Balliol College Boat Club bumping on average 5.4 times over the four days of racing.

Eights headshipsEdit

  • Men: 1851, 1855, 1859, 1860, 1873, 1879, 1952, 1955, 1956, 2008
  • Women: 2010, 2011

Torpids headshipsEdit

  • Men: 1897–99, 1911, 1928, 1929, 1954, 1968–71


The boat club is governed by a committee consisting of student representatives and an overseeing Senior Member (currently Douglas Dupree). All are unelected, or elected by the previous committee, and volunteer their time to the club.


The Men's 1st VIII is currently[when?] coached by George New. The Women's 1st VIII were coached by Nick Bevan, attended Balliol in 1960 and has had a long history in rowing coaching at school level. He was originally approached by Balliol to help coach the Men's 1st and 2nd VIIIs but found a home with the Women of Balliol.


BCBC has greatly benefited from the generous donations of old Balliolites over the years. The current men's and women's first boats, the 'Beeland Rogers' and the 'Happy Rogers' respectively, reflect this trend. Beeland Rogers is a R86 Empacher while Happy Rogers is a more standard lightweight K series boat.

Training locationsEdit

Novice and development crews train on the stretch of the Thames, known as "The Isis" locally, which flows through Oxford, but senior crews train further afield at Abingdon.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sherwood, p. 81.
  2. ^ Sherwood, p.11
  3. ^ Jones, J. H. (2005). Balliol College: A History (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 189.
  4. ^ Sherwood, p. 16.
  5. ^ Sherwood, p. 92.
  6. ^ Sherwood, p. 118.
  7. ^ Sherwood, p. 120.
  8. ^ Sherwood, pp. 317–346.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


External linksEdit