How it all began
The idea for a rowing race between the universities came from two friends - Charles Merival, a student at Cambridge, and his Harrow schoolfriend Charles Wordsworth (nephew of the poet William Wordsworth), who was at Oxford.
On 12 March 1829, Cambridge sent a challenge to Oxford and thus the tradition was born which has continued to the present day, where the loser of the previous year's race challenges the opposition to a re-match.
The first Boat Race took place at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and contemporary newspapers report crowds of twenty thousand travelled to watch. The race was stopped soon after the start and, following the restart, Oxford were clear winners. The event was such a resounding success that the townspeople later decided to organise a regatta of their own which duly became Henley Royal Regatta. After the first year, the early Boat Races took place at Westminster in London, but by 1845, when Westminster had become too crowded, the Boat Race moved six miles up-stream to the then country village of Putney. In 1856 the race became an annual event (excepting only the war years).
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