Fuller’s Head of the River Fours
All images (C) Fuller’s Head of the River
The Head of the River takes place every year in November. In 2018 the race is on Saturday 3 November – Provisional Time 12.00.
The event takes place on the River Thames along the four and a quarter mile Championship course from Mortlake to Putney (ie. the Oxford/Cambridge boat race course in reverse).
One of the largest rowing events in the world, hundreds of crews take part in the Fullers Head of the River Fours, which starts at the University Stone at Mortlake, near Tideway Scullers boat club at Chiswick Bridge, and ends at the University Stone at Putney.
Established in 1955, the event came about when the Tradesmen’s Rowing Club’s Association (the body who looked after real professionals – i.e. those who worked with boats for a living) decided they wanted a Tradesmen’s Tideway Head Race for fours. They were soon joined by members of the Thames Amateur Rowing Association. In the first race 34 crews rowed over a three mile course from Chiswick Steps to Putney Pier. The entry has grown steadily over the years and in 1990 the race was extended to the full four and a quarter mile Championship course – Mortlake to Putney.
The 2017 event had 2100 competitors enter and 100 or so race marshals, timekeepers and other volunteers. Spectators can watch the races from any point along the course without charge. Chiswick Pier is a good viewing point, as is Chiswick Boathouse, but most people head to Putney Embankment to see the finish. Despite the lack of pubs along the north shore, refreshments are sold at the rowing clubs and at Pier House and Chiswick Boathouse in Duke’s Meadows.