Tributes to Peterborough Olympian and rowing legend

James Crowden, at home in north brink, wisbech.
James Crowden, at home in north brink, wisbech.
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Tributes have been paid to a former Lord Lieutenant and Peterborough schoolboy and Olympian who led Cambridge University to great success in the boat race.

James Crowden, who was a pupil at the Kings School, was Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire between 1992 and 2002. He also served as Sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1970.

Mr Crowden, a well known sportsman, was a successful rower, coaching the Cambridge University boat teams for 20 years - and claiming victory over Oxford in 15 races. He competed for Great Britain in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki in the coxless fours.

He also won the race as a rower in 1951, and was umpire of the famous event when the Cambridge boat sank in 1978 - when he won the race in 1951, Oxford sank at the start - but there was a re-row.

Langford Smith, president of the Peterborough branch of the Royal British Legion, who also went to the Kings School, said he would be missed.

He said: “He always carried out his role with dignity.

“He was never too posh to help.

“I remember one occasion when the mayor’s chauffeur was taken ill, and the deputy mayor needed to be taken to the Town Hall.

“He was deputy Lord Lieutenant at the time, but he put his hand up and put the deputy mayor into the back of his car and took her to the Town Hall.”

During his time as Lord Lieutenant he met several members of royalty. |He served for many years as vice-president of the British Olympic Association and as a steward of the Henley Regatta. He was also chairman of the Cambridgeshire Olympic committee. He was awarded the CVO when he retired.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “James Crowden was a superb Lord Lieutenant and one of a small number of people with a real commitment to public service and civic duty.

“He was a big supporter of our city and particularly the charity sector and was a friendly and familiar face who will be much missed.”

James was born near Wisbech in November 1927, and died last month.

He married twice - his first wife, Kathleen, died in 1989 from multiple sclerosis. His second wife, Margaret, died in 2009 from a heart attack.

He had one son, Richard, who died in a car crash in 1982.