Blyth Community Boat Launch
On Saturday the 19th of July a very special community event took place in Blyth. It may have been a damp and misty day but the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of Blyth Community Rowing Club who launched their first St Ayles Skiff “Crofton”, named after one of the local mines.
The boat launch was the opening to the Blyth Maritime Festival – Crofton being led down the town’s high street alongside a full marching band and floats.
The boat was built in an unused unit in the local Keel Row shopping centre by members of the local community. Crofton is the first boat to be launched in Northumberland, with clubs soon to launch in both Amble and Alnmouth. It joins a number of St Ayles Skiffs already in the North East, including ‘Grace’ at Gosforth Community Rowing Club and ‘Byker Belle’ at Byker Community Rowing Club.
“We are so thankful to Blyth Town Council for funding our project to bring rowing back to the River Blyth” said Michael Wade, Chair of the newly formed club. “The coming together of the community to build the boat and create the club has been amazing.
“The clubs has become like a family,” added Kirsty Millican, secretary and rower in the first all women crew to take Crofton afloat. “We are immensely proud of what we have achieved; it’s been the most fantastic experience from building to rowing at the Blyth Maritime Festival.”
“I’m really pleased with how the new club has come along,” said James Andrews, Area Participation Manager for British Rowing. “Rowing left the river in the early 1980s when Blyth Rowing Club folded, Cambois Rowing Club had already moved onto the River Wansbeck so bringing rowing back onto the river is fantastic. Crofton joins other Skiffs like it and others are soon to follow. This is all helping new people come into the sport like never before in the North. Coastal rowing was non-existent only three years ago, and now we have three clubs already rowing with at least three more coming soon. It’s got an exciting future ahead.”
Blyth Community Rowing Club will now begin work on finding a location to build Crofton’s sister boat as the club has funding for at least one more boat. They will also start training for taking part in the Great Tyne Row in September.