Recently re-discovered amateur footage given to ITV Anglia shows the day the Boat Race came to Ely

  • Watch the newly-discovered amateur film footage of the 1944 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race held in Ely

The footage was left gathering dust in an attic for nearly 70 years before being rediscovered by the son of one of the Cambridge rowers.

It beautifully conveys the sense of excitement local people felt on February 26 1944 when such a prestigious event came to the Fens.

The Boat Race was moved to the River Great Ouse for two main reasons. Firstly V1 rockets, doodlebugs as they were known, were raining down on London making it a dangerous place to be.

Secondly it was thought that students taking part in a sporting event didn't really chime with the serious times people were living in.

The race used the long, straight stretch of river at Queen Adelaide on the outskirts of the city which is ideal for rowing.

A stone plaque beside the river marks the 1944 finish line Credit: ITV News Anglia

Back in 1944 Oxford beat Cambridge - much to the local city's annoyance.

Ten years ago to mark the event's diamond anniversary the race was recreated, complete with crowd members in 1940s dress. A number of the original rowers from both crews attended

That event helped increase interest in the Isle of Ely Rowing Club which is now thriving.

Historic footage of the 1944 Boat Race that was held at Ely in Cambridgeshire.
The river at Ely is still used for training by modern rowing crews Credit: ITV News Anglia

This year's celebrations are more low key; a number of the 1944 crews have passed away since 2004.

But the club will be presenting a special DVD to surviving Oxford member Michael Brooks. A memento of the day he helped create a little piece of rowing history.