Published on September 6th, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour


Scull days the best of a superstar’s life

A new beer has been produced to wet the whistle in anticipation of the one-man play Hadaway Harry opening at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle in February 2017. 

Newcastle-based Brinkburn Street Brewery has produced Canny Sculler (3.6% abv) in honour of Harry Clasper, the Dunston-born and Jarrow-raised rower who led a team from Tyneside to win the World Championship in 1845 and whose training methods and boat innovations put the North East at the centre of the aquatics world for the next 25 years.

Hadaway Harry, which charts the sporting superstar’s life, was written by Ed Waugh and toured the region in 2015. Harry Clasper eventually owned several pubs and it was from one of them, The Tunnel in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, that his funeral cortege left in 1870, attended along the way by 130,000 spectators.

Before football, rowing (aquatics) was the sport of the working-class. Local heroes were created on the major rivers and the top rowers were feted in the manner that football stars are today. Taking the World Championship title from the “unbeatable” London rowers on the Thames caused a sensation locally, nationally and internationally. Tyneside “anthem”, The Blaydon Races, was written in Harry Clasper’s honour.

And rather neatly, Lee Renforth, owner of Brinkburn Street Brewery, is a direct descendant of another great Tyneside rower, James Renforth, who became world sculling champion in 1868 following a match from Putney to Mortlake on the River Thames.

Like Harry Clasper – whose funeral he attended as a pallbearer – James Renforth owned pubs in Newcastle; The Belted Well Inn in Scotswood and the Sir Charles Napier in the city’s Queen Street.


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Alastair Gilmour

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