The first Sunbury Regatta was held in 1877, and with the exception of a few years, it has been held annually to the present day. The fireworks and parade of illuminated boats, which are such a well-known feature of the regatta, were mentioned as early as 1880.
The programme shown lists races for amateurs, which ruled out anybody who actually worked for a living, as well as for professional watermen. Prizes of 8 for winning teams were considerable sums in 1885.
The Regatta has always been both a sporting event and the main social occasion in Sunbury.
Amongst the committee were many prominent members of local society including Edward Clarke, an eminent barrister who became Attorney General and defended Oscar Wilde at his trial, and Frederick Walton who invented Linoleum and established the huge factory at Staines.