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28 October 2014

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Celebrate the 1944 University Boat Race!
The 1944 Cambridge Boat Race Crew
The 1944 Cambridge Crew

On February 28th 2004, Veteran crews from the 1944 Oxford Cambridge Boat Race re-enacted a special wartime race that took place in Ely 60 years ago!

Check out our photo gallery from the special day »

  see also  

Two men in a boat...

Boat Race 2003

  internet links

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The diamond44 group have received a £20,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Initiative. The grant will help to establish a permanent exhibit in the Prickwillow Drainage Engine Museum and to create a six-mile triangular walk beside the river at Queen Adelaide.

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The Cambridge Crew from 1944
The Cambridge Crew from 1944
Back in February 1944, as the country was still in the grip of World War II, the Oxford Cambridge Varsity Boat Race took place in the heart of the Fens!

The course stretched for one and a half miles over the River Great Ouse in Ely, and it's the only time the boat race has not been held on the Thames in its 150 year history!

The 2004 veteran Cambridge Crew
The 2004 veteran Cambridge Crew

On Saturday 28th February 2004 university veteran crews re-contested the famous wartime encounter from 1944 when Oxford beat Cambridge by three-quarters of a length! This time round Cambridge got their revenge by beating Oxford by three lengths!

Alongside this special race was a whole day of fun activities including sailing demonstrations, music from the Ely City Military Band and a Spitfire flyover!

Boat Race celebration photo gallery »

The day was rounded off in style with a dinner cruise and an evening of dance to the Glenn Miller sound of the Umbrella Big Band at the Ely Maltings.

The Cambridge Crew from 1944
The Cambridge Crew from 1944

The big day - organised by a group called Diamond 44 - also included a Service of Thanksgiving in Ely Cathedral followed by a wreath-laying at the grave of former Dean of Ely, Charles Merivale, in Ely Cemetery. While a student at Cambridge University in 1829, he rowed in the first University Boat Race and it is believed he was responsible for instituting the event by challenging Oxford student Charles Wordsworth, a nephew of poet William Wordsworth.

For more details of this fantastic event and to see archive video footage, visit the diamond44 website:

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