THE SIXTIES

This meant increased storage, another barge was obtained I can’t say purchased as it was probably a gift from a local lighterage company or bought for a peppercorn. The club was now proud possessor of two boathouse/barges, the work parties of various skills swung into action oxy/acetylene gear and welding equipment were scrounged along with the necessary tradesmen. A ramp and doorway was cut into the forrard swim of the barge, carpenters, or those members with saws at least, cut timbers for roof joists, corrugated iron sheets fixed to form a roof over the hatch coamings, finally each alternate sheet painted blue or white and Lo!! A new boathouse. There was even air conditioning; a 12 inch gap was left between the hatch and the sheeting for ventilation.

This new barge was moored alongside the old one at Ferry Wharf it became the home initially of the two original “light fours” Mills and Donaldson and the arrival of the first new boat eagerly awaited.

The first new “Light Four” in fact a clinker built monster by today’s standards arrived and was named Stella Maria after wife of our President at the time Alec Mitchell. Over the course of the next couple of years, yes it took that long! five more identical boats arrived to give the club six boats to continue club racing. One of the five boats I recall was called “Tina” after a huge Labrador which was the pet of the sponsor and financer of that particular boat a worthy gentleman named Alex Deakin. My memory is a bit foggy here but I think he also financed later another boat named after his grand child.

The first two fours were actually fitted with a towing eye on the front canvas but as the trial tow behind the supporters launch was hairy to say the least, towing was abandoned and the second heat winners had to row back to the start. The other four boats were subsequently named T. Howlett, W.Smith, R.J.Hook and The Supporters.

The old heavy boats were broken up and disposed of, nowadays they would probably have been called collectors items and prized instead of an ignominious end on a bonfire.

The first barge which had seen military service during the war and kept Globe boat-housed ever since kept heading for Davy Jones locker, unfortunately the Thames foreshore was not quite deep enough and every time the tide went down the barge came up!. There was no longer a need for two barges and the first was sold for scrap I recall a figure of £1000.00 so the scrap man must have been blind or a particularly beneficent supporter to part with that much cash.

Around this time there was talk at the old Greenwich Council, this was pre the new London boroughs that amalgamated Woolwich, Eltham etc into Greenwich, the talk being of building a super council run boat house on Dodd’s Wharf which at that time was a derelict wharf and draw dock just upstream of the Cutty Sark and foot tunnel entrance. That plan failed to materialize and sometime later Francis Chichester was knighted by the Queen at Greenwich and his boat bagged the spot.

Due to redevelopment along Wood Wharf and Dodds wharf the barge had to be moved, we had also outstayed our welcome at the Tilbury. The new management did not approve of naked rowers in the works canteen.

Our near neighbours and friendly rivals came to the rescue, Curlew Rowing Club led by the indomitable Cecil Blaseby invited us to share their facilities in the Trafalgar Tavern. The whole of the ground floor was Curlew’s home as the building at that time was not used as a pub or restaurant. Hot showers, inside toilets, luxury after what we had been used to and on top of all that a bar! Heaven! Curlew’s home was also shared by London Transport rowing club led by Johnny Hines, who was actually born in Crane Street, Goldsmiths College crews also enjoyed Curlew’s hospitality occasionally.

The barge was moored on Trinity Wharf in front of Trinity Hospital, just downstream from Highbridge draw dock although in those days we were not allowed to open the water gate at the draw dock, it was definitely an upward move for Globe.

What is the expression about all good things, Curlew’s landlords, the owners of the Trafalgar Tavern decided to redevelop the building, Curlew along with Globe and LTRC were compressed into a narrow corridor and a basement, not the luxurious space to which we had become accustomed.

A new home was needed, 11-13 Crane Street was an old rope works owned by a Mr Moss who no doubt had made money from old rope, it is not just a saying, a waterman with a mop vertical in the stern of his wherry was a sign that he was in the market for old rope, ships bos’uns would heave old rope overside, money would change hands, the waterman would then visit Mr Moss and earn a profit on the transaction.

My apologies for digressing but Moss’s was a big turning point in Globe’s history. Mr Moss wanted to sell up and asked £3750.00 for the building which was in extremely poor condition, from Globe’s point of view it was a palace but at £3750.00 it was reaching for the moon. The club could not raise anything like that amount. It was suggested that Greenwich council be approached, having learnt that the council were interested the price rose to about 17K, shrewd business man Mr Moss.

The council bought the building and Globe finally had a home of its own, LTRC stayed with Curlew and Globe moving out gave them their space back. The plumbers, electricians, chippies, painters and sundry labourers that rowed for Globe swung into action soon showers, changing rooms and boat racks were built, the club was on a roll, more new boats were coming home, restricted sculling boats, sectional restricted fours and finally our first best boat.

The barge was however pining for her old partner she kept doing submarine impressions and finally joined her companion at the scrap yard.

The remaining clinker fours were stored, some on Curlews raft and the others in the grounds of the naval college. It was about this time that “Nipper” received a huge naval promotion, when he left his Majesty’s Royal Navy he was a lowly coxswain albeit an heroic one. In writing to the captain of Globe Rowing Club concerning the boat storage the college adjutant addressed a letter to Nipper as Captain R.J.Hook Royal Navy and saluted him when we attended a meeting, Nipper failed, I might add, to point out his mistake. I don’t think the Navy adjusted his pension though.

By this time leisure was becoming the watchword, riverside boroughs were spending on waterside improvements, and Poplar had its shiny new boat house from the ashes of the old railway station, up river Barn Elms was going great guns.