At the beginning of the 19th century amateur oarsmen began to take a regular part in boat racing, and one of the first clubs devoted to the sport of rowing was founded in Chester. Amateur races then began to find a place in the annual Chester Regatta which started in 1733.
During 1832 amateur rowing created 3 events, 2 for boatmen and one for 'fishermen's gigs' and this was rowed by women. At this time there were no races or involvement of any gentlemen rowers. However within a few years a gentleman's Regatta emerged to the exclusion of manual workers.
The above image is a photo of Chester Regatta taken from Dee Lane.
At the time of the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the formation of a dedicated rowing club on the Dee had become known and it claimed a sporting prowess for gentility and respectability for gentlemen of influence enabling them to advance the new sport of Rowing.
The 27th May 1838 saw, through the determination of the local dignitaries, the formation of a permanent and regular rowing club. This was also in unison with Queen Victoria's first birthday anniversary since her accession to the throne. To mark the occasion The Chester Victoria Rowing Club was formally organised at the Castle Of Chester.
1838 also emerged as the year of Royalty with one of the few UK Clubs to be granted. In 1854 the Club took their positions seriously enough to employ a'Trainer' or in todays terms a 'coach'. He in turn was instrumental in constructing a 'keel less' boat, the first of its kind and forerunner of todays racing boats, naming her 'VICTORIA', enabling her crew to win several events almost immediately.
With confidence and ambition the following year, 1855, Chester Vic's entered the 2 most prolific events in fours and won them, astounding the rowing fraternity.
Chester had now set a precedent. Oxford University commissioned a similar designed boat in 1856 as an 8 and this enabled them to win the yearly battle between Oxford and Cambridge, in 1857.
Unfortunately Chester did not return to Henley for 18 years and lost in their return in the finals by half a length, and all this after unfortunately hitting the river bank.
1877 saw the erection of a club house on the banks of the Dee as we see us know, with the date engraved in the wood work over the boat bay doors creating the original structure. The only addition over the years is the clubroom and gym.
Rowing by know had become a growing sport and the Amateur Rowing Association was formed with Royals being a founder and important member in 1882.
Royal Chester during this time had always maintained a connection with the Kings school sharing coxes and some facilities from 1882.
1956 was the next milestone for Royals with the design and construction of 'Eugenie' another keel-less boat in the form of an 8, entering the 2 most prestigious events at Henley, enabling Royals win again while setting a very high and a new regime in boats and racing.
Up to now rowing was a male sport and with the New ARA instigation in 1965 'Cadet' rowing was established and really the forerunner of Junior Rowing as we know it today.
1968 saw another initiative with the introduction of 'vacation rowing for schools' and trophies were won in the new 'cadet class' at Bridgenorth Regatta. 3 years later 2 members of the winning crews were racing against each other in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
Ladies started a new section of the club in 1975 attracting a dozen members; while a new category of Veteran rowers were being established for social and competitive rowing. Local connections with schools are ever present and Christleton Comprehensive School established a Sunday afternoon over 14's crew with assistance of their PE Master.
Royals registered as a Youth Club with the Education Authorities enabling a new branch to enlarge and flourish very much as we do today.
1977 sees the advent of an intensive schools programme to encourage rowing locally and with juniors and coaching seriously with wins at Merseyside Regatta and assistance to Kings Coaching requirements. The success of the junior regime enabled one of the clubs most successful athletes, Richard Stanhope, to start his rowing prowess with wins on the Dee in 1976 and then go onto win successive events in crews and single sculls, becoming an Olympic oarsman and medal winner in 1980, stroking the GB crew to a silver medal in Moscow. His competitive spirit enabled him to row in a further 3 more Olympics, 8 World Championships and 8 wins at Henley Royal Regatta. As another first for Royals Richard became an elected Steward of Henley Royal Regatta and is now an ARA Divisional Representative.
Junior rowing is very much our continuing theme with competing in and recognition along with selection to National Events.
Women's rowing in the 1990's went also from strength to strength with medal winners Claire Davies and Lisa Eyre. Lisa rowed for GB during the years of 1995 to 1998, winning bronze and gold medals while Claire twice won silver medals in 1991 and 1992. Our women's crews are still flourishing and looking to create new winning crews.
Winning is very much in the history and veins of the club and today we have a full cross section of members from Juniors of 14 upwards to senior men and women to Veteran oarsmen who still compete seriously or create a social aspect for the club with light refreshments after serious memorable outing.
Royals have established their prowess within the rowing fraternity and will continue to challenge and train winning athletes.
Why not come and join us
Royal Chester Rowing Club
+44 (0)1244 322468