The History of St Ives Rowing Club
The club has a rich history which will emerge in time as this site evolves. The buildings we have occupied and the characters that have contributed their time to running the club will be included here, along with the achievements of the outstanding athletes this club has produced. The latter will include Nigel Drake with his association with Tony Cowley, Paul Ashmore, Gary McMullen & Alison Eastman who have been great ambassadors for our sport, let alone the club!
Early Club History
Competitive rowing in the county had started in 1854 with the formation of Huntingdon Boat Club in a boathouse by the Huntingdon-Godmanchester river bridge; St Ives Rowing Club followed in about 1865. To set the scene, the Confederates had been defeated in America and President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in this year. A few years later in 1871 H M Stanley greeted the long searched for explorer David Livingstone with the words "Dr. Livingstone I presume ?" when he found him in Ujiji Tanganyika, (now Tanzania).
St Ives Rowing Club was started by St Ives General Practitioner Dr Grove (seen centre rear in the adjacent photograph) and his friends. The club now has a boat named in his honour.
The Old Boathouse
The heavily built clinker boats were housed in a wooden boathouse in the barge-repairing yards alongside the railway bridge. This bridge (long gone!) was positioned between the Town bridge and close to the road bridge that replaced it. The section of line, opened in 1847 between St Ives & Cambridge was the last to close in 1970.
The Old Boathouse painting & the photograph of a lighter are probably of the turn of the nineteenth century & may well be of the site of the former home of the club - perhaps an "x" should mark the spot when we can find it exactly! The two images were taken with kind permission, from Philip Grosset's St Ives Website.
In 1869 the club was captained by John Haviland Dashwood Goldie, born March 1849 in Horncastle, Lincs & educated at Eton & Cambridge (St Johns and Lady Margeret). His father (often at the centre of controversy for his no-nonsense approach to religion) was the Vicar of St Ives All Saints church for twenty years between 1866 & 1886.
Goldie stroked the St Ives crew that beat Huntingdon in 1869.Perhaps more importantly, this outstanding oarsman distinguished himself by stroking the Cambridge University Boat Race Crew in 1869, 1870, 1871 and 1872. In 1870 he ended Oxford's nine consecutive years of victories. Cambridge won again in 1871 & 72. He was the C.U.B.C. President between 1870 and 1872, won the Colquhoun Sculls in 1870 and captained Leander between 1873 & 1876. He stroked Leander when they won the Grand Challange Cup in 1875 and umpired at Henley Royal Regatta. Cambridge University honoured him by naming Goldie Boathouse, used by the University crews, to commemorate his services to Cambridge rowing. The second Cambridge boat is also named Goldie after him. He died in April 1896 at St Leonards on Sea only 47 years of age.
Early St Ives Regattas
Dennis Ivor and George Lewis Day first started their rowing careers, with Dennis Ivor stroking the town Junior “A” Four in 1909 and taking the bow seat in the Senior Four in 1910 and 1911. For a more complete resume of Dennis Days career please see the dedicated webpage. The club races in that period usually took place as invitation events with Cambridge clubs and the highlight being the annual needle-match with their local rivals, Huntingdon, along Houghton Wale, the long straight from Houghton Mill towards Huntingdon. In addition to rowing, the club competed in water-polo and offered swimming events in the annual regatta for many years, with other attractions such as the greasy pole and the best-decorated private boat. The day was a social highlight in the St Ives calendar and usually ended with a dance on the lawn of the Warren residence. If anyone can throw any light onto the crew pictured here we would be obliged!
A typical advert of the time taken from a 1908 newspaper clipping is shown adjacent. They knew how to do it properly in those days. Click the image to enlarge it in a new window.
It is interesting to note the reference to the late train to Godmanchester which leaves at 10:30pm