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Newcastle Handicap

The famous Newcastle Handicap, over half a mile on the Tyne, used to last a week. The first prize was worth 70 and a gold medal, apart from money to be made in side-stakes. The winner had to race on seven days in succession. Scullers came to compete from all over the country. The first ever to win from 'scratch' in 53 years of Newcastle history was Bert Barry who managed it in 1933. He had competed nine times, reaching the semi-final twice and the final once. Ted Phelps won in 1926 at the age of 16 from the 16-second mark. There was always heavy betting on this race with daily call-over at which as much as 500 would be laid to 10.

The Newcastle Handicap ended during the second world war when the boat houses were bombed and all the boats used for the races were lost.


  • Jack Dodds of Hexham beat Ernest Barry by just over a length. Jack was 5 years older and much heavier and in a terrific battle Hylton Cleaver writes in his "A History of Rowing" that Dodds "got five cuts at the water before Barry left the stake boat". It was therefore assumed Barry was held back as was sometimes the case in those days when betting was high"
  • 1926
  • Ted Phelps won at the young age of 16 from the 16-second mark.
  • 1933
  • Bert Barry was the only sculler to win the handicap from scratch in the race's history.
  • 1980
  • The Newcastle Handicap event was revived for one year only, to celebrate the "Newcastle 900" years event. 54-year-old Jack Russell of South Hylton competed for the first time, his Father being a finalist in 1933.
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