William East (rower)

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William (Bill) East
Born 1866
Title Professional Sculling Champion of England
Term 1891-
Predecessor Henry Ernest Searle
Successor G Bubear

William Giles East was born in 1866 in England. He is most known for his Sculling career.


Legend says that he was born in his father’s boathouse at Putney, but he was actually born close to Lambert Pier in London. He spent his whole life on or by the Thames, and became a waterman's apprentice in 1882, which was the year he won the Putney Badge. In 1887, Bill won the Doggett's Coat and Badge Race, and in 1891, he won the English Sculling Championship. However he never defended this title. Seven years later, in 1898, he was appointed a waterman to the Queen. He retired from professional sculling about 1903/04. In June 1906, he became the King’s Bargemaster. He also stroked in the winning Champion Fours in the National Regattas of 1890 and 1891, and also won the Champion Pairs.

Bill seems to have been a very popular person on the Thames and was early on connected to Cambridge University Boat Club, to train and coach the crews. In 1904, he published the ‘how-to’ book Rowing and Sculling.

Bill East coached Trinity Hall’s famous rower and sculler, the American Benjamin Hunting Howell to victories in the Wingfield Sculls in 1898 and 1899; the same years Howell also won the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley-on-Thames.

Like many other champion scullers he later in life became a publican. He ran the Prince’s Head hotel and then the Pigeon Hotel at Richmond.[1]

Bill East died in January 1933.


  1. ^ Amy Dyduch (8 March 2013). "The Victorian era's Steve Redgrave". Richmond and Twickenham Times. p. 18.