THE BOATHOUSE

Fred’s history ends around 1953 with the new boathouse being a redundant 2nd world war landing craft. The craft had been modified and sported a long wooden ramp and a watertight door at the front, entry was via a hatch in the rear deck. The ramp was lowered with a rope block and tackle, lowering was not too bad but pulling it back required all the members heaving along the rope. The watertight door lifted up and then bolted in position.

Nine boats were kept in the barge six heavy boats with no outriggers and fixed tholes, tholes are two vertical ribs fixed to the gunwales (gunnels) of the boat, the seats were staggered off centre, bow side and stroke side and the slide was only 16inches long (400mm for you youngsters who don’t remember old money!)

These boats were built by Salter’s of Oxford and looked identical to the eights used in the very first University boat race. A small aside here, when I was club secretary in the early sixties among the secretary’s papers was the original receipt and each boat cost about £35.00, hopefully the receipt has survived and still with a club member somewhere.

The other three boats were known as light fours (clinker built) although these days “light” would be a questionable description, two were by Simms of Putney the third was built by George Harris of Chertsey. Two boats the “Mills” and the “Donaldson” were owned by the club, the third the “279” I think was owned by the dock labour board and rowed by stevedores from 279 club.