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Hexham Rowing Club

Hexham Rowing Club 1878 - Present

Hexham Rowing Club was created in November 1878 at a meeting in the North Eastern Hotel (now the Station Hotel). About 70 young men attended with promises from another 50 who intended to join.

It should be remembered that this was in the heyday of professional rowing in the North East before the creation of the Football Association. For Alan Shearer read Bob Chambers. For Bobby Robson read Harry Clasper. Every stretch of water had its town rowing club: Corbridge, Ebchester, and Hexham. Every amateur club was also effectively a training ground for potential professionals who would be 'sponsored' by bookies and wealthy entrepreneurs as well as gentry. There were some 20 professional rowing clubs at one time on the banks of the Tyne.

  • The club was initially called: The Hexham Rowing and Swimming Club.
  • The first committee had 13 members.
  • The first Chairman was William Taylor.
  • Subscriptions were 10 shillings a year.
  • The club initially intended to purchase two open boats at 10 each, a pleasure gig at 12 and two sculling boats at 12 each.
  • A proposed boathouse on the 'island' at the top of the river was later changed to the present site. This required the permission of the Lord of the Manor (presumably Lord Allendale) and the County Surveyor. The boathouse which was later built was of 'tar and paper'. It burnt down in about 1900 and was replaced by the wooden boathouse which still forms part of the building to this day.

    The club name changed over the years, sometimes more as a result of informal usage. At various times it was:
  • Hexham Rowing and Swimming Club
  • Hexham and Ebchester Rowing an Swimming Club
  • Hexham Boat Club
  • Hexham Rowing Club Swimming remained an integral part of the club until the late 1970's. Although latterly the club members preferred to go to Fenham Baths rather than use the river.

    Single sculling was the preferred sport at Hexham and throughout the town clubs until the Second World War. Notable rowers from Hexham were:
  • Jack Dodd, who won the world renowned Tyne Christmas Handicap in 1906.
  • Joseph Robinson, who won the Hexham Christmas Handicap in 1912 before emigrating to Australia and making the ultimate sacrifice at Gallipoli.
  • Jack Hopper who competed throughout the 20's and 30's as a professional winning most of the major events throughout the north and further afield. He later retired and continued rowing at Hexham into his late 70's. Sweep-oared rowing began in Hexham in the 1960's with boats given by Talkin Tarn ARC and later Tyne United, a professional club, which closed when the sport went wholly amateur in the 1950's. Hexham remained a dominant force throughout the 1960's and 1970's.

    The creation of a separate junior rowing club in 1980, based on the High School affected Hexham Boat Club as it was then. The club was consequently quite moribund throughout the 1980's. The 1990's saw a revival of its fortunes, however, and the purchase of new boats and a sustained recruitment campaign has seen the renamed Hexham Rowing Club flourishing.

    Hexham is one of the first clubs in the North to actively recruit older rowers, especially women, and promote the idea of recreational rowing for fitness.

    Hexham Regatta has always been a major rowing event in the North East. Its Christmas Handicap was a significant competition in the professional calendar in the early part of the 20th century and attracted competitors from all over the British Isles. Even during the 1980's, when the club was unable to provide the staffing, Tyne Green Watersports Association was created partly to keep the regatta alive because of its importance in the North East rowing scene. Fortunately the revival in the clubs fortune means that Hexham RC can easily organise its own event, which expands year on year.

    Hexham has always benefited from the fact that the reach of water at Tyne Green, although relatively short, is probably one of the best in the North East. It is ideally suited for a range of watersports and is eminently suitable for training beginners in reasonably safe conditions as well as providing a base for recreational rowing for fitness; which was interestingly one of the reasons for forming the club in 1878.

    Bob Manning 2004 Back to Homepage