The first Reading University Head of the River Race took place in 1935, when the then President and Vice-president of RUBC, F.W.Roe and D.Cambell-Baldwin, decided to start the event to give experience of ‘Head’ racing before the London Head of the River. The first race attracted three entries and was won by Reading Rowing Club and by 1938 entries had risen to 18 crews.

The number of crews entering before the war was never more than 30, and in 1948, after the setback due to the war and flooding the race was revived with an entry of 28 crews.

The event continued to grow in popularity and in 2000 there were 127 crews entered composed of 38 universities and colleges, 42 clubs, and 47 schools. This lead to the provision of a second division of racing in 2001, to accommodate the ever increasing numbers. In 2009 entries reached a record level of 300 crews. In 2015 the organising committee continued to move with the development of British Rowing with the addition of quads events to the race, providing an “8 oared race”.

Over the past twenty years flooding again caused the cancellation of the event a handful of times, but this did not reduce the popularity and Reading University Head of the River continues to be a strong testing event attracting many of the UK’s top Clubs, Schools and Universities.