Kirkpatrick, Peter Crichton

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Kirkpatrick, Peter Crichton

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24 August 1916-5 October 1995


The following obituaries appeared in Regatta magazine:

"Peter Crichton Kirkpatrick was an oarsman of immense stature who brought wry humour to the towpath through a long life which began on August 24 1916 and lasted until he died in his sleep on October 5, aged 79. Son of a GWR engineer and grandson of Sir William Perkin who practically invented the British dyestuffs industry, he was educated at Monkton Combe and Queens' College Cambridge before going to work as a chemist for ICI's dyestuffs division in 1937. After war service in Italy and Greece with the Manchester Regiment and the Yorks and Lancs Regiment, and the eventual rank of major, he returned to ICI and took up the oar again for Thames Rowing Club and for Britain. He was also familiar with less grand byways of rowing, having competed for the Salford club Agecroft on the Irwell.

In 1967 Peter switched careers to do marketing for the General Post Office, eventually becoming a consultant to BT for long past his retirement. He was a passionate supporter of Thames and GB crews, appearing on the bank at international regattas and world championships whenever he could, raising a pint at their successes and an eyebrow at their cock-ups.

His sharp observations, as much on society or politics as on rowing, were delivered in perfectly-timed one-liners. It was Peter who likened the refurbished Remenham Club to a Tesco, and Peter who, regretting that every leaf of countryside on Henley's Bucks bank was obscured by tentloads of suits 'sponsored as newts' during the boom eighties, remarked that if alcohol were banned the regatta would collapse, but if rowing were banned nobody would spot the difference. Happily recession restored some countryside at Henley for Peter's last few visits. An imposing physical giant, he had a gentle nature which belied one of the toughest strokes of his generation."
"The death of Peter Kirkpatrick at the age of 79 robs the rowing world, and Thames Rowing Club in particular, of one of the most distinguished oarsmen of the immediate post-war period. Peter rowed for Monkton Combe in the Ladies' Plate at Henley in 1934 and 1935, reaching the semi-finals in the former year. He rowed for Thames in the Thames Cup in 1937, for Queens' College, Cambridge, in the Ladies' in 1938, and for Thames again in the Grand in 1939, but without success. In 1936 he had won a Trial Cap at Cambridge as a Freshman and many thought he was unlucky not to win a Blue.

After war service he began an outstanding period with Thames. A tall, powerful heavyweight, he stroked the winning Stewards' Cup four at Henley in 1947, with Hank Rushmere at three. That year, the four and the Thames Goblets pair, ├░Sparrow' Morris and Alan Burrough, became the first British entries for the European Championships, but neither reached the finals.

In 1948, Peter rowed six in the Thames eight that won the Head of the River Race. He then went on to stroke Thames to win the Grand at Henley, and he also stroked the winning Stewards' four again that year. Regarded by many as an outstanding crew, the four represented Great Britain in the 1948 Olympics at Henley but they went stale and, rowing well below their true form, failed to reach the final. The following year, with Kirkpatrick again stroking, Thames reached the final of the Grand but lost to Leander. A composite eight, drawn from these two crews, represented England in 1950 in New Zealand in what were then known as the Empire Games, but after a series of misfortunes they could finish only third, to take the bronze medal. In 1951, Peter stroked Thames for his third and final Stewards' win. In all these crews, Hank Rushmere rowed behind Peter and the two remained firm friends for the rest of Peter's life.

He became an occasional coach for Thames after retiring from active competition and took an active part in the club's administration. He was captain in 1950 and was elected a vice president in 1969. A keen, if critical, supporter of rowing, he could usually be found on the Remenham mound during Henley training with his old friend Ramsay Murray, who died last year. A frequent spectator at Lucerne and World Championships, his presence and strong personality will be much missed by a host of his rowing friends."


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