10:46AM, Tuesday 10 September 2019
Shenanigans on and off the water ensured that this year’s Cookham Regatta went down a treat once again.
Spectators gathered along the side of the Thames at Marsh Meadow on Saturday to watch a wide variety of boat races, from the canoe cats – two canoes joined together to form a catamaran, to the ferocious dragon racing.
There was plenty to do off the water too, with volleyball, the tug-of-war, live music and classic cars all on display.
Cookham Regatta has been running in its current form every year since 1988, but its history dates back as far as 1882.
In the 1890s, the event was so popular that trains would be scheduled especially from London, with as many as 10,000 attending in 1890.
The original races included skulls, dongolas, canoes and a parade of crafts, but more popular regattas at Molesey and Henley lead to a decline in entries, and in 1930 Cookham Regatta was discontinued.
The regatta lived on in the memory of artist Stanley Spencer, though, who immortalised the event in his 1953 painting Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Punts by the River, which fetched more than £3million at auction.
In 1988, the regatta was revived by two Cookham residents, Keith and Merle Jarret, and it is now run jointly by the Cookham Bridge and Marlow rotary clubs, and each year it raises about £15,000 for charity.
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