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 Robert Coombes

Robert Coombes

Birth
Lambeth, London Borough of Lambeth, Greater London, England
Death 25 Feb 1860 (aged 51–52)
Maidstone, Maidstone Borough, Kent, England
Burial West Brompton, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 12447 · View Source
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Oarsman. Born to a London waterman, a guild that traditionally ferried passengers across the Thames, he had been on the water from an early age. By the mid 19th century sculling races became a popular spectator sport, attracting huge crowds and a great deal of money at races on the Thames and the Tyne Rivers. Watermen had always raced, most particularly for the prestigious Doggett's Coat consisting of a scarlet waterman's coat with silver buttons. Coombes first expanded into scull racing for the Duke of Northumberland's prize money in July 1836. He earned the title, Champion of the Thames, in August 1846 after beating Charles Campbell in a Putney to Mortlake run in 26 minutes and 15 seconds. He would retain the title for six years. The sport was quickly adopted by the universities and Coombes trained the Cambridge crew for 1852. His instructions on rowing were published in the book 'Aquatic Notes or Sketches of the Rise and Progress of Racing at Cambridge.' His guild, meanwhile, was slowly made obsolete by the construction of bridges across the rivers. Coombes sank into poverty and loss of reason and at the age of 58 was committed to the Kent lunatic asylum at Maidstone where he died nine months later. He was buried at Brompton Cemetery at his friends' expense. Leading watermen of the day acted as pall bearers and attendants. He was laid to rest in a chest tomb of some seven feet, a carved figure of a waterman stood at each corner; Coombes' boat on top, upturned, with his waterman's coat lying across it. The inscription read: This monument was erected by public subscription/by the warm friends and admirers of/ROBERT COOMBES/Champion Sculler of the Thames and Tyne.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 13 Sep 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12447
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Coombes (1808–25 Feb 1860), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12447, citing Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .