A Master Of The English Style: The Roy Scott Hewett Story

Photo courtesy Rob Hewett

Born May 31, 1886 at Forest Gate, Essex, Robert Roylst 'Roy' Scott Hewett, C.B.E. was the son of Robert Muirhead Hewett and Alice Minna Hewett. He grew up at Roden (Roding) Lodge in Barking, Essex with six siblings in the lap of luxury, the family having at least five servants on staff.

Photo courtesy Barking Historical Society, Barking and Dagenham Archives and Local Studies Centre

Robert's father was a Justice Of The Peace for the County Of Essex, an auctioneer and the President of the Barking Liberal Association... as well as an avid fisherman to say the least. At one time the fishing industry boomed in Barking and the Hewett family's historic Short Blue Fleet was believed to be the largest private fishing fleet in the world.

Roy's father Robert Muirhead Hewett. Photos courtesy Rob Hewett, Barking Historical Society, Barking and Dagenham Archives and Local Studies Centre
In his youth, Roy became an avid fisherman himself, making his first trawler trip to Iceland when he was only eleven years old. However - as you might have guessed - one of his greatest claims to fame was his expertise on the ice. Roy started skating at a very young age and joined The Skating Club in London, where his father enjoyed skating combined figures "once back and forward meet" in The English Style. By the age of thirteen, young Roy was skating at The National Skating Palace with Madge Syers (then Cave).

Roy was as proficient on roller skates as he was on ice skates. In 1911, he won the first championship on rollers in the English Style instituted by the National Skating Association. His father was the runner-up. He went on to win this title - which was only ever contested five times - twice more in the years that followed. In 1913, at the age of twenty seven, he was made a first class judge by the National Skating Association... which was certainly a rare achievement for a man so young in those days.

Roy Scott Hewett with Dorothy Greenhough Smith and Marion Lay at the 1931 British Championships

After earning the rank of Captain while serving in the Royal Army Service Corps during World War I, Roy joined the family fishing business and pursued figure skating during the winters with a renewed vigour, often visiting the Swiss skating resorts to hone his craft. His efforts paid off in dividends when he won the National Skating Association's Championships in the stiff English Style in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926 and 1927. In his 1939 book "Skaters' Cavalcade", A.C.A. Wade noted, "Captain Hewett and his father, Mr. R.M. Hewett... for many years [gave] valuable services in guiding the destinies of the N.S.A. Both are 'masters' in all branches of ice and roller skating... It would be difficult to find anyone more active and alert than 'R.M.H.' who, at eighty years of age, could give points to many men twenty years his junior. Both the Hewett's were always great sportsmen, and exceedingly keen in improving British skating. When Cecilia Colledge became World Champion in succession to Sonja Henie in 1937 in London, I was reminded of a remarkably prophetic remark made to me some years previously by Captain Hewett. Cecilia was barely ten years old when one day Captain Hewett rang me up to tell me jubilantly that Cecilia had won the N.S.A. gold medal for figures. 'She is the youngest girl skater who has ever won the gold medal,' he said, 'and she should be a future world beater - an English Sonja Henie... Captain Hewett himself won the gold medal when only eleven, and held the record for many years as the youngest skater to achieve this honour. Another distinction of Captain Hewett's is that he is the only man who has been British amateur figure champion on rollers as well as ice." BIS historian Elaine Hooper noted that Roy's career paralleled that of Ronald Gilbey of the Gilbey's Gin family. She noted that both were "prolific on both ice and rollers and members of the NSA Roller Committee while also being ice skating judges."

A combined figure in The English Style

Roy went on to serve as a Secretary and Treasurer of the National Skating Association and a skating judge for many years. In 1934, he was honoured with an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the National Skating Association. Later, he served as a Common Councilman of the Corporation of London and a Sheriff during World War II. He was also a member of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers, Company of Watermen and Lightermen.

Roy's epitaph from the Hewett Memorial at Rippleside Cemetery. Photo courtesy Barking Historical Society.

Roy also served as President of the Billingsgate Christian Mission and Dispensary and was a member of the Royal Thames, Corinthian and Essex Yacht Clubs. He lived for some years at Marine Parade. Leigh On Sea and passed away on May 23, 1967 in Walmer, Kent at the age of eighty.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.