- Head of the River Fours
The Fuller's Head of the River Fours (HOR4s) is a processional rowing race held annually on the
Thamesin Londonon the 4¼ mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from Mortlaketo Putney.
The idea for a Tradesmen's Tideway Head Race for fours, was first mooted in the early 1950s by the
Thames Amateur Rowing Association. The TARA, was the Thames branch of the National Amateur Rowing Association, the governing body who looked after manual workers who could not join the ARA which did not recognise their amateur status.
Despite picking a date for the new race, the TARA soon dropped their plans after learning that the
Tradesmen's Rowing Clubs Association(the body who looked after real professionals — i.e., those who worked with boats for a living) had also started to organise a similar open fours race.
And so it was that the fledging "Head of the River 4's" was first raced in 1955. In the following years the race was known as the Tradesmen's Rowing Club's Association Head of the River Fours, though even at this stage ARA clubs were entering along with NARA and TRAC clubs.
In the late 1950s the ARA and NARA finally merged into the Amateur Rowing association of Great Britain. The event then became known simply as the Head of the River Fours, and was handed over to a new Committee in 1963 after the TRCA's eventual amalgamation.
Since that time many changes have taken place to the race, including the course length and alterations and additions to the status and boat classifications available. Of particular interest was the introduction of quadruple sculls in 1969 when there were three entries. A women's junior quadruple sculls event was added in 2005, in 2007, Women's Elite Coxed Fours were scrapped to be replaced with Women's Senior 2 Coxless Fours and the 2008 race will see the introduction of both Elite Open Lightweight and Elite Women's Lightweight quads for the first time.
The current breakdown of events of offer is as follows:
Quadruple sculls (4x) (Nine Events) Open Elite; Women's Elite; Open Elite Lwt; Women's Elite Lwt; Open Senior 1; Open Senior 2; Women's Senior 2; Open Junior; Women's junior
Coxless fours (4-) (Five Events) Open Elite; Women's Elite; Open Senior 1; Open Senior 2; Women's Senior 2
Coxed fours (4+) (Eight Events) Open Elite; Open Senior 1; Open Senior 2; Women's Senior 2; Open Senior 3 (Club and Academic), Women's Senior 3 (Club and Academic)
In the first race, 34 crews rowed over a three mile course from
ChiswickSteps 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 from Mortlaketo Putney(i.e., the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Racecourse in reverse).
For many years the entry exceeded the 500 permitted maximum, but in 1997 the
Port of London Authorityagreed to a request for 50 more crews. Even with 550 places available (the largest number of crews entered in a one race in the UK) the race is still heavily oversubscribed. Fuller, Smith and Turnerbegan their sponsorship of the Race in 1979 and event winners are rewarded each year with excellent hospitality in the Hock Cellar at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, where the prizes are presented.
* [http://www.hor4s.org.uk/ Head of The River Fours website]
*Cleaver, Hylton, "A History of Rowing"
*National Amateur Rowing Association,
London Metropolitan Archives, Catalogue Ref. A/NAR
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