Revamped Community Rowing Facility promotes rowing in the heart of Greenwich

Peter Smith 

Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford opened a new chapter in the borough’s sporting history when he officially opened the newly refurbished Trafalgar Rowing Centre on Saturday 18th October 2008.

The Trafalgar Community Rowing Centre, close to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, is home to clubmark-accredited Globe Rowing Club, established in 1923, and Curlew Rowing Club, started in 1866.

The £250,000 refit of the clubhouse, which included extensive repairs to the roof, modernisation of male, female and disabled changing rooms and a lift for wheelchair users, was celebrated with a day of festivities.  An eager group of youngsters, many from schools in the borough, raced each other on indoor rowing machines. The winners of the closely fought competition were Poppy Taylor, 14, Ollie Gaurd, 17 and Adam Bein, 15.

Cutting the ribbon to open the refurbished clubhouse and the new slipway to the river, MP Nick Raynsford said: “This facility is wonderful for Greenwich and rowing in Britain at a time when rowing is on a high. Here in Greenwich rowing is part of our history so to have a really good rowing centre, the Trafalgar Rowing Centre, is a source of pride to everyone.”

John Fahy, cabinet member for culture and the Olympics at Greenwich Council, said: “We are every excited about the project. As a riparian borough we should provide opportunities for water sport and as an Olympic borough we should be encouraging rowing. Some of the youngsters come from deprived parts of the borough and are thoroughly enjoying themselves. We need to maximise that opportunity.”

Di Ellis, chairman of the Amateur Rowing Association, said: “It is just an incredible building. It will make such a difference both to the club, to visitors and to attracting new members. With London 2012 nearby I think there will be a lot of people knocking on the door.

“It is a wonderful year to open the facility, when British rowing has had such a fabulous success in Beijing and at the start of preparations for the London 2012 Games. What I found really encouraging was going over to the gym to see the young people on the rowing machines.”

She added that the Community Club Development Programme (CCDP), which provided some for the funding for the refurbishment, had helped to protect sports clubs that are on what have become valuable sites, such as riverside properties, from being sold off to developers. “The Community Club Development Programme has done so much in helping to retain our rowing clubs that are, by necessity, situated on prime river sites which would otherwise be wonderful acquisitions for developers. Thanks to the CCDP, the help of Sport England, and the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), our rowing clubs and many amateur sport clubs around the country are being protected,” she said.

The refurbishments were funded by grants from the Amateur Rowing Association’s Community Club Development Programme Fund from the DCMS, which is managed by Sport England, and from the London Borough of Greenwich, as well as by member clubs Globe RC and Curlew RC.

Peter Smith, Director and Secretary of the Trafalgar 2001 Trust Limited, the charity which runs the Trafalgar Rowing Centre, said: “We’d like to thank the Amateur Rowing Association, Sport England and Greenwich Council who have helped us fund these essential improvements. With the 2012 Games just around the corner, we hope even more people will join us to enjoy one of Britain’s most successful Olympic sports.”

Both Globe and Curlew offer beginners’ courses and also welcome experienced rowers. Globe has an enthusiastic crop of teenage rowers and works with local schools to encourage more youngsters into the sport.