Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 10.32.29Saturday, May 30. Noon until 2pm. South Shields Library in Georg Square (South Shields Town Centre).

Relatives of Harry Clasper, the famous North East rower, are being invited to a family re-union in South Shields to celebrate a play that commemorates the 170th anniversary of Harry and his brothers bringing the World Championship to the North East for the first time.

It was a feat that Jarrow-raised Harry Clasper repeated a further eight times from 1845, making him the most famous rower in the world.

Dunston-born Harry was the man the Blaydon Races was written for and 130,000 people crowded the streets of Newcastle to pay their respects when he died in 1870, aged 58.

“Hadaway Harry”, as he was nicknamed, will be the subject of a new play by North East playwright Ed Waugh, whose national and international hits, co-written with Trevor Wood,  include Dirty Dusting, Waiting for Gateaux and Maggie’s End.

Ed who is responsible for writing the popular Laffalang, and most recently The Accidental Activist, said: “This is an amazing story. As well as being a champion himself, Harry trained North East world champions and designed the boats still used in the Olympics and boat races today.

He continued: “I’ve had fantastic support from David Clasper, Harry’s great, great nephew, whose great great uncle was the cox in the winning team in June 1845 and who has written two books on the subject.

“Rowing was the mass sport of the working class before football and the Tynesiders beating the  “unbeatable” Thamesmen caused a national sensation.”

Harry,  a former Durham miner,  was one of 14 children and, in turn, had 12 children himself. Members of the Clasper family from all over the UK are coming to see Hadaway Harry.

Ed added: “I keep getting approached by people who are either related to Harry or who know people related to Harry and we thought getting members of the family together would be a fantastic way of officially launching the play.

“It’s a project that will hopefully bring to people’s attention how Harry was probably the greatest sportsman the North East has ever produced.”

The Clasper re-union will take place at South Shields Library in Georg [sic] Square in the town centre, as the prelude to a four-week Harry Clasper exhibition in Riddick’s, the former shoe shop on Fowler Street, South Shields (NE33 1NA).

The Clasper Family re-union runs from noon until 2pm on Saturday, May 30.

Anyone with  Harry Clasper memorabilia is asked to bring it along to show attendees.

As well as an exhibition about Harry Clasper, Ed will give a talk about why he wrote Hadaway Harry.

Entry to the event is free and everyone is invited to attend.

Hadaway Harry, which has been supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and South Tyneside Council, is a funny and poignant tribute to a North East hero, and will be performed in venues that have a resonance with Harry’s life.

All tickets on the tour cost only £10 and can be obtained as follows:


Maritime Trust (Boathouse), South Shields, NE33 1LQ

Monday, June 292.30pm/7.30pm

Tuesday, June 302.30pm/7.30pm

Wednesday, July 12.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 4247788


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

Thursday, July 27.30pm

Friday, July 32.30pm/7.30pm

Tel 03000 266600


The Low Light, North Shields, NE30 1JA

Saturday, July 47.30pm

Sunday, July 52.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 2574506



Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Tuesday, July 77.30pm

Wednesday, July 82.30pm/7.30pm

Thursday, July 92.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 232 6789 or (0191) 2774100


Bede’s World, Jarrow

Friday, July 107.30pm

Saturday, July 112.30pm/7.30pm

Tel (0191) 4892106 or 4247788

For further information visit