Worcester Rowing Club is steeped in history and has been in the City since 1874, although its roots go back much further than this.

At one time the City of Worcester could boast of many separate rowing clubs, each one being confined to members engaged in a particular occupation or from a particular walk of life. It is known, for instance, that the members of one club were mostly concerned with the haberdashery trade, another with the brewery business, while those who were artisans belonged to another club.

Worcester Rowing Club blade

Past Worcester clubs

  • Ariel Rowing Club (1841 – 1881)
  • Oxford Worcestershire (1840’s)
  • Harriet (1840’s)
  • Nil Desperandum (1845 – 1874)
  • Intrepid Rowing Club (1850’s)
  • Crusader Rowing Club (1860’s)
  • Worcester Barbourne Rowing Club (1860’s)
  • Sabrina Rowing Club (1873 – 4)
  • Leander Rowing Club (1873)
  • Argonaut Rowing Club (1873)
  • Vigornian Rowing Club (1873)
  • Malvern College Rowing Club (1873 – 1875)

Gradually however, this antiquated class conscious system – which was universal throughout most sports at the time – was eradicated and most of the clubs disappeared. Those that remained combined to form the present Worcester Rowing Club in 1874.

An historic City, Worcester has hosted rowing activities for centuries with records showing that organised rowing races can be traced back some 210 years ago. Only horse racing has been going for longer in the City.

Rowing near Worcester Cathedral on the Severn
Worcester Rowing Club boathouse

Dirty tricks

The sportsmanship and chivalry of the present day regattas was not always evident however and betting was rife – for this was the heyday of the professional gambler and the rewards were worth a spot of corruption. Accounts of the earlier regattas indeed make interesting reading:

  • A Club President sculled himself to a standstill only to lose and then find that a board had been nailed to the bottom of his boat
  • Coxswains were ditched overboard if crews looked like losing
  • In order to lighten the boat: oars were hidden and inferior ones substituted, indeed, after one such incident and many letters of accusation and counter accusation to the local press, the Editor himself remarked that a more thorough piece of ‘blackguardism’ and ‘blacklogism’ never was perpetrated -not even upon the turf!

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