John ‘Windmill’ Rowe
10 May 2011
Here is just an insight into an extraordinary life.
Windmill discovered the Hash late in life, when he worked in Finsbury Park. In those days he used to run to work, during his lunch hour or on his way home. One evening he saw a motley crew of people wearing running gear, they were hanging around outside of the Hen and Chickens, these were the London Hash House Harriers. Windmill enquired what they were doing and as he had his running gear with him, he joined them on the Hash.
Originally running with London (65 Trails), he then moved on with the fledgling City Hash by attending their inaugural Run on 10th Jan 1989, set up by Mertle and the Bear, Windmill continued running with them for several years until the Potters Bar Rail crash put a stop to him and Bus Stop getting the Train in to London.
Windmill and Bus Stop found Herts Hash were on their doorstep and one day came along, then they missed out on a Trash and Hareline in the days before the internet and a Herts Hash Website, so they didn’t appear again for a considerable amount of time.
Eventually they would reappear, He surprised the regulars at his ability to out run the best Herts had at the time, this was even more surprising when we learnt how old he was in comparison to the rest of us, twice our age and twice as fast. He completed 344 Trails with Herts.
He received his Hash name because of his unique running style which led to his arms flailing around like the sails on a Windmill, on that particular London Trail he emerge from an alleyway like a Whirling Dervish and almost upended the tray of drinks a waiter from the nearby restaurant was carrying out to his patrons. Quite often this would lead to him catching himself of barbed-wire fences, brambles and the like, though it never seemed to slow him down
He and Bus Stop were at the inaugural Enfield Hash Trail on the 20th May 1999, he would be a stalwart of this Hash as well, encouraging others from neighbouring Hashes to take part.
No one could quite believe that as a child Windmill once suffered from Tuberculosis, and in a time before antibiotics became the cure-all, he spent several years in a sanatorium recovering, where one method of treatment included being confined to a bed that was situated outside under a sheltered roof in all weathers to get fresh air, this included being outside when it snowed!
As children, Windmill and his brother were also machine-gunned by a passing German fighter when their mother took them to the beach at Weston-Super-Mare during the War. Unexpectedly Windmill would get his own back on that German Pilot’s nation in a subtle way that he would learn about for another 60 years until he was on a mystery trip to Bletchley Park.
During his holidays as a child, Windmill helped his father make parts for radio valves for HMV, some of which were used on Colossus, the first Electro-mechanical computer (designed by Alan Turing) which used to break the German Enigma codes at Bletchley Park. Windmill’s father also worked on Radar.
Windmill enjoyed it when he discovered a distant relation of his, called Alexander Aubert who wrote a thesis on Engineering, he also built Observatories at his homes at Loampit Hill, near Deptford and at Highbury House, Islington. Aubert was highly esteemed both in scientific and commercial circles, we was widely popular, owing to his genial manners and unstinted hospitality. Sounds rather like Windmill!
When time came for Windmill to do his National Service he naturally joined REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) as a way to avoid certain duties he decided to join the running team, he also played hockey.
One time with a Joint Run with the R2D2 Hash House Harriers, he had the opportunity to Hash a Trail set around the assault course and training grounds where he had been based for part of his National Service. It was a long, hard run on a vey hot day, the Trail included water-filled trenches and various obstacles to be overcome but Windmill loved it, ironically the Girls on the Hash weren’t as keen on this part but soon forgot their woes as at the end, as everyone had to be hosed down of the mud by the local Fire Service! The Day was finished off with a trip on the Watercress line RAT (Real Ale Train) A steam train trip with a Real Ale carriage.
Away from the Hash, Windmill enjoyed all types of sports and took interest in many that he didn’t partake in, this may have been due to the times he spent as a child reading out the sports results to his Grandfather.
Windmill even had a trial with Tottenham Hotspur, where he was the fastest of the lads but as the coach said “It helps in football if you have the ball with you when you run that fast!”
Windmill spent over 50 years with Barnet and District AC, brought up his family, played Hockey for Southgate, taught Mathematics at night school, was a Special Constable amongst a host of achievements. He also made the first artificial hip joints at his engineering company.
Windmill also loved playing Golf, he was a member of South Herts Golf Club, he also cycled on a regular basis, he took part in the Herts Hash Hackers Golf games with the likes of Sludge, Pepé le Pew Porky Pie, Fliptop and T-B-T.
He completed the London Marathon, won his age groups in senior tournaments being the over 60 champion in 1997 and over 70 in 2006. He enjoyed competing in the Jersey Half Marathon, something the Hash was involved with for years, he also took part in the Veterans Grand Prix in Bruges.
With Windmill setting a Herts Hash Trail you were guaranteed that he would set a good one by using an OS Landranger Map and a measured piece of string, which would result in nearly all of his Trails taking an hour to get around as they were of an almost uniform length, perhaps it’s a method of planning a Trail that a few others should adopt?
Herts Hash ran one of his Trails from the Barnet and District club house one time, where we were spoilt by having hot showers after the Run, it was strange for the Pack to get changed in a room where there were more serious runner’s names, like ‘Ron hill’ were labelled above the pegs! He did a lot of behind the scenes work for this club and served on the committee.
For Herts Hash Windmill did the statistics, he made the goodie bag medals for the 1,000th Weekend and more importantly he was often a Hare for setting the Trails on Herts Hash’s celebratory weekends.
With meeting Bus Stop (Shirley) he enjoyed new passions including a love of Bird Watching, and nature in general, something that he could take in while out Hashing in the countryside, he would often stop to watch the birdlife and point out to the rest of the Hash what the species of bird was, LBJs or Little Brown Jobbies seem to be the most prevalent species of bird in Hertfordshire!
Windmill and Bus Stop managed to combine Twitching and Hashing when they flew out to the Scilly Isles for some bird watching, the joined the Hash when they spotted the Hash Advert on a billboard in the local Pub!
With his marriage to Bus Stop some of the Hash were privileged to be invited along, Windmill would now be resigned to appreciating Bus Stops love of collecting nick-nack’s which included many porcelain Windmills.
Another passion which he could combine with the Hash, was that of Real Ale, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord being one of his favourite pints. In his Barnet and District Days, he was instrumental in the running of the ‘Barnet Pub Dash’, something rather akin to some of the Hash Pub Crawl Runs, where the competitors had to run and then drinking in the nominated Pubs without stopping for a rest break!
Although we are not competitive on the Hash, Windmill did get the chance to challenge himself and others, like when he took part in the fell running event each year. There he would seemingly always come up against the same other two men in his age group and one of them would always pip him to the line near the very end of the course. Windmill didn’t seem to appreciate the joke offer for some of the Hash to go and knobble his opponent’s legs one year so Windmill could be first home!
Herts Hash had many Barbeque Trails from Bus Stop and Windmill’s home in Hadley Grove, from here His Trails covered familiar ground but he never led the Pack on the same route twice. Though My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead and Sludge’s short cutting often riled him after the effort he had put in to setting it! Quite often he laid the Trail on the same day!
Windmills last Run was at a joint Run with Herts and the UK Ex Qatar Hash in August 2010, all through on the Trail he had been up with the FRBs, right at the very end as the Trail came back in to Hertford Rugby Club he tripped over a tree root. He wouldn’t get over this fall.
Even at the end, when he was confined to a chair and then finally his bed, he was still actively involved with Herts Hash by updating our Run statistics, he even drew up a couple of Trails from his old Runs and these were set by the ‘Boys’ of Mouthwash and Skip, again these were an hour for the Pack to Run.
He appreciated the likes of Sludge and Flanders, Fliptop and Sis, Skip and Psycho, plus the others who took the weekly trash around to him to peruse and later to be read to him, this made him feel that he was still apart of the Herts Hash, he always will be. Windmill also managed to update the Herts Hash statistics for the year 2010.
The last Trail Windmill set for the Herts Hash was laid for him by ‘the Boy’ Skip, who was given a map that Windmill had carefully drawn out. Near the start of the Trail, the Pack stopped outside of Windmill’s home, where he waved out of the window at us while we had a drink and jelly babies!
Having completed the Trail, the Pack were not shocked to see that Windmill had struggled to get himself around to the White Lion, something that only a person of his determination could or would do. He spent several hours with us, but sadly he could not appreciate the unique taste of the ESB as he no longer had a sense of taste.
Again his planning showed as he organized his own service, getting Mr. X and Paxo to design and make the Hash “On! On!” plaque for his coffin, and that he wanted Mr. X to talk about his life with the Hash at the service, and who to thank.