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Mystery of the Canon’s watch solved!

3rd August 2020 in Alumni, Archives Centre, Conservation, Our Collections, People

The identity of the couple whose names appear on the back of Canon Noel Duckworth's watch has now been revealed. 

Last July we shared the story of the kind donation of Noel Duckworth’s stroke watch to the College archives by Angus Mackay (G70), and many of you will also have seen this reported on p. 21 of the recent Churchill Newsletter. Angus had rowed in a coxless pair for the College at Henley with Dan Moore (U67) called ‘Threesacrowd’ in 1973. The watch is inscribed ‘Marya and Alan, 6-9-60’, or so we thought. By complete coincidence, the donor of the watch to the Canon was depicted in a photo on the same page of the Newsletter (see below), because he had attended the boat club dinner in 2019 to reunite with members of the ‘postgraduate eight’ of the late 1960s, it being a 50 year anniversary. The watch had been given to Canon Duckworth by Alan Repko (G66), pictured second on right at dinner, as the Canon had officiated at his wedding to Marya in 1969 – the watch inscription has been so worn that we read the ‘9’ as a ‘0’.



As we recounted in our article, it was fortunate that Angus MacKay rediscovered the watch while unpacking a bag that had been undisturbed since the 1970s competitions in Threesacrowd. In his words to Alan:

I am glad that the provenance of the Canon's watch has now been revealed, thanks to Bevyn. The recent messages reawakened in me a feeling of embarrassment, I have to say, although I tried in vain to identify an existing rightful owner at the time I discovered it. Neither Dan, Allen Packwood (Director of the Archives) Michael Smyth (author of the book about Noel) nor Eddie Powell could shed any light on the matter. Of course the happy event of your wedding happened the year before I entered Churchill, and while I had heard your name mentioned, I knew nothing of these associations.

When I shook out my old rowing kit bag a couple of years ago, it was with feelings of shock mixed with nostalgia that I saw the watch emerge from the depths. It might still have been there had my wife not threatened to incinerate the whole lot! The Canon had loaned the watch to Dan and I who were training in Three's a Crowd, doubtless expecting it to be returned at some point, but subsequently forgotten by all concerned.

We are grateful to Alan Repko (G66), Bevyn Jarrott (G66), Angus MacKay (G70), David Kittelson (G66), Dan Moore (G67), Jim Gill (G68) and other members of the postgraduate eight, plus honorary member David Levin (U68). We hope to hold a special event to mark the 60th anniversary of CCBC in summer of 2021.