DURHAM will be transported back in time as the North’s oldest regatta celebrates 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo this weekend (June 14-15).
In addition to the usual two days packed with competitive rowing, the River Wear will host re-enactment races and a procession of boats, rowers and spectators will don historic kit and there will be free ale and VIP treatment for descendants of the city’s Waterloo Men – 43 veterans of the crucial battle who were treated to complimentary food and drinks following the first official Durham Regatta in 1834.
There will also be a classic car show, live music and family entertainment.
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Races for 182nd Regatta will start about every two minutes between 8pm and 7pm on Saturday and Sunday, with 600 crews from across the region and beyond in action.
“We are really delighted that rowing and Durham Regatta are so popular that we have had to close entries well before our normal deadline,” said Secretary James Lamb.
A one-hour celebration of the Waterloo anniversary will begin at 1.30pm on Saturday.
There will be re-enactments of races from early regattas, including a crew using coal trimming shovels as paddles and a nine-abreast skiffs race.
A procession of boats will commemorate the original Waterloo celebrations and a crew from the injured forces charity Row2Recovery will take their Atlantic boat down the Wear.
Various bands will perform on the riverbanks, with the National Anthem heralding three cheers for the Duke of Wellington and a rendition of Rule Britannia.
Spectators and competitors are invited to don fashionable dress from any era in the last 200 years or historic rowing kit, with prizes awarded to the best dressed.
Following extensive research, a number of the original Waterloo Men have been identified and several relatives of one, Private Andrew Knox, are expected to attend the regatta and enjoy the free drinks, including a special Waterloo Ale from Durham Brewery.
Also present will be actor Jamie Brown, who is Harry Clasper in a new play about the 19th century rowing legend, along with descendants of Mr Clasper himself.
Preparations for the weekend, ongoing for months, are almost complete. All the organisers need now is good weather. The current forecast for Durham is wet on Saturday; dry and cloudy on Sunday.
For more information including the full draw, visit durham-regatta.org.uk