Aggar opens new Broxbourne clubhouse

Broxbourne clubhouse

Paralympic gold medallist and World Champion Tom Aggar officially opened the new Broxbourne Rowing Club clubhouse on Saturday 1 October, amid record temperatures on the River Lee.

British’s Rowing’s Alan Meegan, Brian Hawden and Tim Messent were on hand help with the celebrations, alongside the Mayor of Broxbourne, Pauline Churcher from the Rowing Foundation, and over hundred club members and their families and friends. BRC Vice President and Project Leader Amanda Jones gave a speech on the day, and has written the following report outlining the background and fruition of the ambitious clubhouse project.

‘Our old, traditional clubhouse was destroyed by a fire one night in 1965, and a second-hand, temporary building was purchased and erected in 1968.  Fast-forward over 30 years, and we are still using the temporary building – which was falling down around our ears! A lot of work went on in the background to allow the new clubhouse project to take place, with money has being raised by selling some unused land and securing the site for rowing club use only (we used to share with a local sailing club). In 2005/6, we built a separate boathouse with 4 bays that we thought would meet all our boat storage requirements. Unfortunately, we exceeded its capacity as soon as it was finished.  We are a growing club!

‘The next stage in developing the club was to build a new clubhouse. Everyone wanted something different; the men wanted more showers or ideally a big bath (we decided to ignore that one), and the women wanted a changing room bigger than a postage stamp with more than one shower.  In an effort to keep costs down, the clubhouse was refurbished – but most of the building has been altered and improved, including the walls and layout.  We did, however, retain the wooden ceiling and expose the beams to give the gym and clubroom height and character.

Broxbourne Rowing Club clubhouse, before and after

‘We were very lucky to have a club member and architect Julia Burden design a fantastic building for us. And, in a real two-for-one deal, we also received fantastic support from Julia’s father Ken Osborne, a structural engineer.  The project would not have progressed without their hard work.

‘After the building work was finished, the clubhouse was decorated and fitted out by many club members putting in many hours of hard work.

‘The club is focused on growing and reaching out to people of all ages, teaching them to row both competitively and recreationally.  This helped us to raise the necessary funding to refurbish the clubhouse.  We received vital support from, and want to thank, Sport England, British Rowing, Epping Forest District Council, Broxbourne Borough Council, Low Carbon Buildings, Big Lottery Fund, Tesco, and the Rowing Foundation.  We also received donations from several club members, all of which helped us to obtain the superb facilities that we now enjoy.

‘The club now has a great gym space – enabling squads to train together – and enough room to allow individuals to do their own training at the same time.  We have space for around 12 ergos, which are used for coaching, training, and for our Learn to Row courses.  Having a great clubroom also means that we can sit and chat after rowing (Saturday morning breakfast has a real buzz!) and hold social events including our annual dinner, which really helps us to bond us as a club and to be more of a community – which also makes us more welcoming to new people. 

‘We now have great changing rooms, showers and toilets which no longer scare people away. And – as many rowers know – that cannot be taken for granted!’

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