Gloucester Rowing Club
Gloucester Canoe Club
Cheltenham Ladies College
University of Gloucestershire
Royal Agricultural University
Gloucester City Council
Gloucester Rowing Club (GRC) and Gloucester Canoe Club (GCC) are open to all members of the community regardless of age or ability. Both offer competitive and recreational sport, the latter supporting Government initiatives to encourage more people to take regular exercise.
GRC was established in 1846 and has operated on the G-S canal for over 150 years. Membership has grown from 120 to 250 over the last 10 years but further growth has been constrained by the facilities available on its existing ¼ acre site. The opening of the new site has started to remove these restrictions, but the full benefit will not be felt until the facilities have been completed.
GRC offers regular 13-week introductory learn to row courses. Each year it teaches about 50 under 18s – mostly 13 and 14-year olds – and 50 adults - aged 18-60+; about half of the course graduates stay with the club to make rowing part of their regular exercise routine.
In 2010, GRC teamed up with Hartpury College to become part of British Rowing’s START programme looking for the next generation of international athletes. The programme has been very successful both in terms of developing crews that have won titles at National Schools and Henley Royal Regattas. Several alumni have represented Britain at Junior International level and are now part of British Rowing developmental squads vying for places in the senior international crews; this includes one member of the national Para Rowing squad.
In 2017, with the initial opening of the new boathouse, Hartpury were able to extend their programme. One new offering is an 18-23 programme to support athletes aiming to bridge the gap between junior and senior international selection. The other initiative is to work with schools in Gloucestershire to introduce 14-16-year olds to indoor rowing; this will be a feeder into the GRC introductory learn-to-row programme and the GRC/Hartpury START programme.
Cheltenham Ladies College have a long-established rowing programme but for several years had to split it between Gloucester and Tewkesbury due to lack of facilities in Gloucester. The development of the new site has allowed the College to consolidate their operation in Gloucester and, with the completion of the first phase of the boathouse, to increase the number of students who can participate.
Cheltenham College rowing is based in Tewkesbury but the river can be dangerous in winter, especially for younger crews. In the past, when conditions have been difficult is has been necessary to cancel training sessions. With the advent of the new facility in Gloucester, the College can easily transfer their operations to the safer environment of the canal when needed.
The University of Gloucestershire Rowing Club makes use of GRC’s facilities and equipment. It will join with the new Hartpury 18-23 group which will raise standards and make the club more attractive to UoG students.
Gloucester Canoe Club has never had a home of its own. Since basing itself at the Gloucester Boathouse site, it has been able to increase its membership and start new initiatives, for example the October Haseler races established in 2016.
Bredon School is another small canoeing group who is benefitting from having a permanent base.
The most recent users are Royal Agricultural University who have been rowing on lakes at Cirencester and Swindon but have been attracted by the better on and off water facilities that will enable them to improve the standard of their rowing and attract new members.
Several local canoe clubs have made occasional use of the site and have shown interest in becoming regular users. We also hope to be able to further extend our current work with local schools to offer rowing and canoeing to all Gloucestershire Schools.
The site will be an attractive venue for other clubs to use as a base for training camps or when their own water is flooded or otherwise unsafe. Even though the facilities are not yet complete, at Easter 2018 we will welcome Nottingham & Union Rowing Club who are bringing their junior rowers for a 1 week training camp. Hartpury College are providing accommodation and land training facilities and the new boathouse will be used for water-based training.
The Gloucester City Council owns the adjacent Hempsted Meadows site and aims to increase the number of events it holds including some that offer overnight camping. They have part funded the external-facing toilet/shower block as a facility for campers to us in future.