Trevor Cave has carried out exhaustive research into the evolution and specification of the colours from the beginning of the club. Here are the results:
“This may seem a ludicrously long and pedantic piece to load on the club web site but it is now four times in the last ten years that I have found myself having to discuss colours in very precise detail. I have twice had to become familiar with BS4800, Pantone and RAL charts and we seem to have agreed something as close to the original colours as is practical for new kit etc.. One problem is that the same registered colour will appear different on different cloths. So I feel a note of all this will be useful for future reference. This is also slightly premature as I have yet to track down a Pantone chart in Cambridge to complete the comparisons but it represents the best knowledge on the subject I have managed to accumulate. If any other members have more correct or more complete history on any part of this, please offer it.
Whilst the Pantone colour reference is aimed more at fabrics, RAL and BS are more usually used for paint. In any case, there are myriad colours that do not match any reference and we seem to have found several of them.
Official college scarf colours were registered with the National Colour Council for the clothing trade in the early 1960s to enable several manufacturers to supply correct, similar scarves. They were based, as we all know, on WLSC’s racing silks at the Jockey Club. More recent rumour has it they in turn were based on Clementine’s favourite ice cream but I’d not heard that before this century. I’m told that the pink is Pantone 212 but have not yet matched it to a chart. It is close also to RAL 3015 light pink but not to a BS 4800 pink. The brown is very like BS 4800 06 C 39 or RAL 8015 Chestnut brown.
When the club was founded, Canon Duckworth enquired of local outfitters for blazers, caps and scarves and was appalled at the cost of “official” material. So he went to Petticoat Lane in London and bought two end-of range bolts of cloth and the BC embraced the vibrant, garish and provocative colour. He hoped it would annoy Leander too! It was used therefore for the original “dress” kit but ran out by 1975 at the very latest.
The blades were darker then too and for a while had brown stripes or chevrons. Look at the old blades or photographs in the Boat House. I understand, from Jim Cameron, that around the turn of the century, Dr Tristram asked him to lighten the blade colour, to avoid confusion at a distance with LMBC, which I do recall happened in the 1970s. I’ve not tried to match blade colours yet and the early blades may also have darkened due to the varnish ageing.
I now have Graham Thomas’s original blazer as a better match for the 1962 colours. This looks now like RAL 3018 strawberry red and the closest Pantone pink is 213 but that doesn’t look red enough to me. The brown ribbon trim is close to Pantone 1545 and Pantone 412 on my computer screen or to RAL 8016 Mahogany or 8017 Chocolate, with 8014 Sepia not far out. The nearest BS 4800 is 08 B 29 but that looks too black on paper to me.
I am keen, personally, on the original colours as they are registered as the official club colours and hence are correct by definition. For me, anything else is a poor imitation but the colours drifted largely due to limitations of available material. I know that many more recent members are attached to the colours in which they raced too.
I do not have an original zephyr shirt to match but in the 1980s they were replaced by singlets, made by Gymphlex. The same standard pink, rather a peachy colour, was used for Churchill, Emma, and Cats stripes on a darker base: brown, blue and red respectively. I cannot match the singlet pink to RAL or BS and have yet to try a Pantone but on paper the brown looks quite like RAL 8003 Clay, 8007 Fawn or 8024 Beige but most like BS 4800 06 C 39.
The advent of lycra could not offer brown, in days before dye sublimation, so it became black, and only a pale pink was made. So the current club racing kit has ended up the same colours as Worcester College Oxford, for whom they are correct and match their college scarves. For the record, they are Pantone Pink 231 and black, as are the club ties that the college produced this century. Earlier this century the kit was black with a maroon stripe that looked almost like Downing but that died out before the 50th Anniversary.
The nearest to original CCBC pink available on lycra currently is Pantone 213 but I feel a bit redder would be better and the new blade colour RAL??/ BS?? would be good if anyone can make it on cloth.
In the 1990s a few pink blazers were made with brown trim using material with official college scarf colours. Dave Green and Helen Ruttkowska have these, I believe. I have a scarf like this too. The brown is close to RAL 8002 Signal or BS 08 C 39. The pink looks closer to RAL 3015 light pink than BS 02 C 33 and I need to check the Pantone yet.
My own original blazer and cap were pinched from the back of my bike on a train in 2007! Thus, for the 2011 blazers we matched to the most original material I still had at the time, which was my 1971 scarf. It had faded a bit but the match was quite close. Clothier made about 15 blazers, to my knowledge, and the match to faded originals is fairly good. I am quite surprised that the material ran out quite quickly as I thought we’d made enough for decades. The pink is not a match to a Pantone, Clothier told me, but looks close to RAL 3017 Rose. The blazer ribbon is close to Pantone 412 on screen. It looks closest on paper to BS 08 C 39, RAL 8011 Nut or 8028 Terra with 8016 not far away.
I see no disadvantage in asking the makers to try to match Graham’s blazer, which I can deliver to Clothier easily and will not miss for few months if necessary. When we see how closely they can, we still have the option of the 2011 pink to be rerun if a 2015 swatch is not good enough. If we manage for 2015 to match well the 1963, then we can keep that colour going for ever. The light variations of c1995 and 2011 will not look too out of place,
I have decided that I will wear my 2011 as a working uniform down the river and will tolerate it getting wet and besmirched for the sake of having something close to the proper pink alongside the racing crews. (It might be nice to think there might be a causal link to recent successes but I suspect that is considerably due to the efforts of the crews, coaches and captains, supported by so many generations of Active Senior Members from every decade of the club. This support is unmatched by any other college club.) I also wear Graham’s as an outer layer over lots of jumpers for winter events, to show the true colours on the towpath.
I was asked recently by Silvia Breu, coach of M1 and CULRC, to clarify the correct shade of brown for the new racing kit. So far I can only suggest colours from a Pantone chart on the computer screen, which does look different. Matching to the screen, which is not as good as the paper, I offer several different shades, so we may grab pragmatically what is closest.
College scarf brown looks most like Pantone 1545 on the screen but like RAL brown 8015 on a chart. Silvia has chosen Pantone 1545 also.
On screen, original CCBC scarf brown looks like Pantone 4625 or 1545.
The interim CCBC scarf (not the most recent new run of c 2011) is probably darker but Pantone 4625 is closest on the screen. The RAL chart match is again 8014, 15 or 16.
I will try to find a Pantone chart to check both pink and brown again for future reference.
When looking for pink boater ribbon, I found instead some cotton from which I improvised a cummerbund which looks quite close to my blazer. I have found a seamstress in Lode who could make more of these for about £20 or even waistcoats for about £50.
So, in summary, I think it is worth trying to match the original for any new run of cloth and the club kit officer might find it easier to order stuff from now on! Any further inputs welcome.”