Bristol Uni aims for top rowing spot

The newly completed £1.2m boathouse for the University of Bristol was officially opened by Olympic medallist Alex Partridge

The new facility in Saltford is a joint project between the University, Avon County Rowing Club and Monkton Combe School in Bath.

The opening ceremony featured a row past of crews from local clubs, followed by the official opening by Alex Partridge – Olympic silver and bronze medallist. 

The new clubhouse boasts a large boathouse and modern facilities, including a big kitchen, spacious viewing balcony outside, and four showers each for both males and females.  This is a vast improvement on the previous clubhouse which was over 100 years old and had no showers and only offered one toilet.

It is hoped that the new facilities will help put Bristol in the top three universities at rowing, developing both novices and future international competitors.

The final project cost was funded through a Sport England bid, which secured £150,000, £400,000 from Monkton Combe School and £200,000 from Avon County Rowing Club.

The University of Bristol initially contributed £400,000, raised through University of Bristol Boat Club Alumni, friends of the University and the John Rutley Sports Fund.  However increased project costs meant that the University increased that amount by over £100,000.

Simon Hinks, Director of Sport at the University of Bristol said: ‘These fantastic new rowing facilities will enable the three partners to retain, attract and develop rowers of all ages and abilities.  The programme of rowing activities, events and regattas will also attract new people to the sport from across the region.’

Former international rower Gordon Trevett, Director of Rowing at the University of Bristol added: ”So many people have made it possible to get to the point we have today and I would like to thank them all. The generosity of the University’s alumni, friends of the University and The John Rutley Sports Fund have been key to the success of this project. We are truly grateful for all of their support. 

“This has been a highly collaborative project and its success is testament to the great partnership working that has been its hallmark. I would also like to mention Chris Hartley who has chaired the UBBC Alumni group for over 30 years, and who has been a driving force behind this project.”

The University of Bristol Boat Club (UBBC) has around 150 members, who see regular success at Henley Royal Regatta with both men’s and women’s teams.  Many team members have rowed for Great Britain at European University Championship level or Great Britain U23 level, which is even more of an achievement given that most of the rowers only learnt to row at university.

Past rowers have even set up an alumni club – Nonesuch Boat Club.  This team is still coached by the rowing coaches at Bristol, and frequently attend training camps at Saltford.

Photo credit: Justin Orwin

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