Saltford rowers' delight at new HQ of the highest oar-der!
Published on: 07 Nov 2014
With a new clubhouse, gym and massive storage space for boats and equipment, the members of Avon County Rowing Club have plenty to appreciate about their new £1.2 million HQ.
But for the hardy rowers perhaps the most welcome thing about the development, which saw the old buildings pulled down and two large brand new units built in their place, is the fact they can now have a warm shower after a stint on the River Avon.
The new buildings were unveiled at the end of September by Olympic rower Alex Partridge and Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Alastair Watson, himself a member of the club.
The development was the result of a partnership between the Saltford club, the University of Bristol’s Boat Club and Monkton Combe School with support from British Rowing and Sport England, while the Duchy of Cornwall, the landowner, oversaw the building project.
With the plans on the table for years, each of the clubs involved undertook their own fundraising, from cake sales to sponsored rows on rowing macines outside supermarkets, enabling the work to get under way in August 2013.
Avon County Rowing Club secretary Debbie Blackmore said: “Along with some generous donations, it was a real grassroots thing when it came to fundraising.
“For a long time during the work we had no buildings, the builders worked through the worst flooding any of us had seen down here but it was all worth it.
“Our captain Penny Senior kept us sailing throughout it all and, against all expectations, membership grew – British Rowing were astonished.
“We are all delighted with the new buildings and perhaps the biggest surprise was the clubhouse. We can't believe how big and light it is and it means the different clubs can socialise.”
The bright and airy clubhouse, situated above the gym and changing rooms, boasts a kitchen, woodburner and a balcony that affords views along the river – where once Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave picked up his first ever medal as a schoolboy competing at an Avon County event.
The facilities are sure to impress any visitors thinking of taking up the sport, which will help Avon County meet its goal of expanding membership even further. The club will be running “taster sessions” from spring next year.
With 180 members across the junior and adult squads, the club offers coaching at all levels and the chance to compete in a variety of events, while they are also purchasing new “fours” boats to increase the opportunity for recreational rowing. With strong junior and women’s squads, one area the club particularly hopes to build up is its younger men’s squad.
Debbie added: “Rowing is a great sport and we would love to see more people take it up – it’s technical but we’ve got people who have been rowing all their lives and are always happy to help people learn.”
Anyone who would like to find out more about learning to row or joining the club can visit www.avoncountyrowingclub.org.uk, email secretary@avoncounty rowingclub.org.uk or call captain Penny Senior on 0117 986 7934, evenings only.