Clare College Cambridge

June 2011 - Messing about in punts


June is the time of the academic year when students can finally relax after weeks of coursework and examinations, and everyone begins to look forward to the annual Clare May Ball. The most typical way to relax in Cambridge has to be punting, with a trip to Grantchester and The Orchard tea garden in Grantchester as the epitome of this much loved Cambridge pasttime.

Punting as a leisure activity began in the late 19th century and as the photographs below show it was just as popular in the 1920's as it is today.

These pages of photographs date from 1923 and come from one of a pair of photograph albums (ref: CCPH/6/19) that were recently acquired by the archives. As well as containing copies of sports team and May Ball photographs that we did not previously have, they provide a wonderful insight into the life of an undergraduate at Clare during the 1920's.

That particular undergraduate and original owner of the albums was Richard Bennett (1901- 1976), who came up in 1920 and amongst other things went on to be a founding member of 'the Boot club',  a group of Clare students that had a mutual appreciation of 'The Boot', a pub in Dullingham.

Richard Bennett was also the nephew of Arnold Bennett, the well known writer and author, with whom Richard often corresponded whilst at Clare. This correspondence was deposited with the archive collections held by the University Library Manuscripts Department and can be found there under the reference number MS Add7650.

Richard can be seen ninth from the left of the fourth row from the front in the May Ball photograph, standing beside someone sporting a particularly lacey top.