A few words from our President in memory of John who died last night.
I had been a member of MRC for a few years before John came to Monmouth as a master at the boys school. That was in the early part of the 60’s, when he arrived from Hereford and had already been instrumental in starting a rowing section at Whitecross school.
Before moving on, and to give more background John was born in the Southampton area, and from a early age was involved with his local rowing club. This gave him a grounding in what I call watermanship which was then combined with his Loughborough sports degree, making him a first class coach, and at the time one of the few people who were classified as Gold Medal. This was obviously to the great benefit of us all in the area, not least to the boys at Monmouth School many of whom went on to maintain great enthusiasm in rowing, including some who achieved Olympic, world and European medal success ( Robin Williams, Charlie Wiggin and Lord Colin Moynihan to name but a few).
Not long went by when John got together a few local members with a view to getting the first Monmouth club crew into Henley R.R. To help in achieving that he was instrumental in getting the River Wye Guild (?) to buy a coxless four for us, otherwise the club only had a shell coxed four which had an interesting twist in it’s hull. In 1966 the coxless four helped John and Monmouth achieve the goal of getting into the Wyfold Fours Event, and a notable win against Leander on the way!
At that time John was also working at resurrecting the Home International which a few years earlier had taken place on the Serpentine in London. The resurrected event was held at Monmouth in 1966 with only Scotland accepting the challenge invitation. From that enthusiasm of Johns, and as most of you will know, the event, now includes all the home countries and southern Ireland and has become a large fixture in the British Rowing calendar.
In the late 60’s John became involved with the day to day running of our club, becoming Chairman. The club house in those days was an old stone and wooden structure, being a former warehouse building on the town wharf. John planned for a new clubhouse. Remember we were a very small club and the hard graft fell on only a few shoulders but thankfully one of those were John’s. Success was achieved and the club house you all enjoy today resulted. If t were not for John’s dedication, energy, drive, enthusiasm and sheer dogged determination I have absolutely NO DOUBT that the club house would never have been built, he was the catalyst.
As if that wasn’t enough, a number of years later John returned as club Chairman and drove forward putting a pitched roof on the club, in filling the ground floor with changing facilities, training room, additional boat housing facilities and steps. Once again his was the engine that drove that to completion. All through these events he remained the boys school coach, producing some really good crews from such a small school club. He was also greatly involved in the early years in forming The Welsh Amateur Rowing Association ( now W.R.C.) to which he became Chairman and an organisation we are all affiliated to.
He spent a considerable number of years as Regatta Chairman/ Secretary, and it was due to his foresight that Monmouth Regatta moved to the Spring Bank Holiday date, - before many years had passed Monmouth was one of the largest one day river regatta’s in the country. A few times with entries around 300 and on one occasion 350. Again all this was indirectly down to J.H.
Towards the end of his teaching career John was the prime organiser for forming the Haberdashers Monmouth Girls rowing club, after he had completed his duties at the boys school. It wasn’t long before the girls were winning medals at National schools and National Championships.
I apologise that this background history of John Hartland has taken more space than perhaps some envisaged, but after starting to pen these words I found it impossible to précis such a fully achieved life without including some of the background to what he did.
It is indeed the end of an era and such a sad loss. It is the story of someone who has put into life so much more than most of us could ever envisage. MRC must celebrate a life dedicated to providing something better for us all. I feel that perhaps a new address for the club could be “ The John Hartland Boathouse, Wyeside, Old Dixon Road, Monmouth. Any other suggestions?
John Jenkins, 20/01/2021