The Lea Rowing Club boathouses

The Lea Rowing Club boathouses

For many years the Club has been aware of the need to improve the site and to put the entire operation on a more permanent footing. Our facilities have increasingly shown their age, the Club’s steadily increasing participation putting them under ever greater strain, and all are conscious that we need to accommodate and develop an adaptive side.

A very important step toward our goals was taken in 2012, when our landlord, the London Borough of Hackney, entered an Agreement for Lease with the Club which, when the Club delivers an expanded and refurbished centre, will provide us with a 99 year lease. This was the culmination of several years’ effort.

In the autumn we were granted planning permission for a much improved facility, including not only slightly more boat storage but also nearly double the capacity for land training, proper disabled access and new catering, showers and changing facilities. Furthermore, the plan provided scope for more people to live on the site, with commensurate increased in security as well as revenues.

The total job cost, estimated by a licensed quantity surveyor, will be nearly £2,700,000, of which the Club aims to cover half in cash and in kind. Fund raising for the other half is under way, and we have received our first commitment.

Construction will be in a number of phases. The first one entailed the refurbishment and refitting of the cottage and Tyrell’s Boathouse. The former has generously increased the residential capacity of the site, while the latter will bring better quality boat storage for sculling members. This phase has been completed and paid for.

The Men's Henley coxless four

The Men’s Henley coxless four

During the planning of the project, we have invited other sports to think about being our partners on the site. Cycle Club Hackney and Hackney City Tennis Club have both responded positively, and as subsequent phases of our project are completed, their joining us will enable all of us to attract more athletes, and prospective athletes, to use our improved facilities.

The Club has to date been able to contribute significantly from general revenues, and additional resources have come from special efforts. Recently we have been successfully bid for funds from major funders and this has given us the opportunity to press on with the re-development of the club most especially for Junior Rowers who will now have a new boathouse dedicated to Jimmy O’Neil. Work is planned to complete August 2016 with a grand opening event in September.

Fred Shearer