Harry Clasper is a new play which is suitable for pupils aged 13+ Posted on: 12 Jun 2015



The Blaydon Races was written for Harry and when he died in 1870, aged 58, more than 130,000 lined the streets of Newcastle to pay tribute to the “greatest rower of his generation”.

The show starts on Monday, June 29, in SOUTH SHIELDS and visits NORTH SHIELDS, DURHAM, NEWCASTLE AND JARROW

Harry Clasper, the first North East sporting superstar, is to be remembered in an exciting new play that will tour the region in June and July to mark the 170th anniversary of the World Rowing Champions title coming to the North East for the first time.

Written by Tyneside-based playwright Ed Waugh, Hadaway Harry, tells the story of how Harry, his three brothers and “Awld” Uncle Ned brought the coveted accolade to the region in June 1845.

When Harry and his brothers took the title from the London rowers on the Thames it caused a sensation locally and nationally.

The Blaydon Races was written for Harry and when he died in 1870, aged 58, more than 130,000 lined the streets of Newcastle to pay tribute to the “greatest rower of his generation”.

As well as being a champion sculler, Dunston-born Harry trained and influenced Geordie world champions and designed the rowing craft seen today at the Olympics and the Oxbridge boat race.

Ed, who has co-written, with Trevor Wood, national and international hits like Dirty DustingMaggie’s End and Waiting For Gateaux, explained: “This is a brilliant story of a true working class hero.

“Harry was raised in Jarrow and later, as a Durham miner in Hetton le Hole, was involved in the Great Strike of 1831,  before becoming a professional rower.

“Rowing, or aquatics as it was known in Victoria times, was the sport of the working class before football came along. Harry was known nationally and internationally as a champion and an innovator.

“Set against the background of the industrial revolution and the development of great cities like Newcastle, Harry’s is a story of the underdog fighting against all the odds to become a world champion.”

He added: “The region can proudly boast sporting greats and world champions like Brendan Foster, Alan Shearer, Jackie Milburn, Steve Cram and Glenn McCrory but Harry Clasper was arguably the greatest of them all.

“Sadly being a working class athlete in the Victorian era, his story was never documented. This is a small contribution to once again celebrating the achievement of a Geordie sporting hero.”

We’re visiting venues that have a resonance with Harry’s life.  All tickets on the tour cost only £10 and can be obtained as follows:


Marine Trust (Boathouse), South Shields

Monday, June 29 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Tuesday, June 30 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Wednesday, July 1 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 4247788

Gala Theatre,  Durham (as part of the Durham Miners Gala programme)

Thursday, July 2 – 7.30pm

Friday, July 3 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Tel 03000 266600

The Low Light, North Shields

Saturday, July 4 – 7.30pm

Sunday, July 5 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 2574506


Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Tuesday, July 7 – 7.30pm

Wednesday, July 8- 2.30pm/7.30pm

Thursday, July 9 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 232 6789 or (0191) 2774100

Bede’s World, Jarrow

Friday, July 10 – 7.30pm

Saturday, July 11 – 2.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 4892106 or 4247788

For further information visit www.edwaughandtrevorwood.co.uk