Book shelves in Kathleen Major Library, St Hilda's College

College Library and Archive

Treasure Of The Month

St Hilda's Hall Eight Going Past the Barges in 1921

This wonderful image was featured in the lifestyle pictorial magazine ‘The Sphere’( 1900-1964). Student Ethel Collinson  [St. Hilda’s 1917] rowed in the VIII, which was coached by William Best. Collinson wrote over a hundred letters during her time in Oxford to her mother,  a number of which mention her passion for rowing.

In a letter dated 26th October 1919  she comments on the photographic session documenting the St. Hilda’s VIII. It is clear that the coach was not impressed:

“On Thursday, a man came to photograph us for the Ladies’ Pictorial or some such rag. Anyway [we all] had to trot down to the Isis at 1.10 to be photographed in the Eight. The joke is that it was a fixed seater, owing to Salters’[ the boatmakers]  mistake, and we should have had  some difficulty in rowing it if we had tried.. You should have seen Best and the photographer!  He wanted to take us across stream at first!  Then when Best stood up in the sten…the young man told him “you can sit down now”!  Best was finally provoked into remarking that he had been on the river 60 years!”   [PP 13/71]


St Hilda's Hall Eight Going Past the Barges in 1921