The school boat club was established in the early 1970s by Mr Parker, a woodwork teacher, who had previously introduced rowing to Consett Grammar School. It was not long before rowing took off and the club were winning medals at national events. One notable medal was a bronze at the National Championships with the gold medal winning crew containing one Sir Steve Redgrave.
Initially the focus was on boys rowing but the club went on to have considerable success in girls rowing in the 1980s and 1990s. This included representation on the England team at the Home Countries Regatta as well as a win in the women’s pair event at one of the first Henley Women’s Regatta.
Mr Parker was joined by Mr Proud in the 1980s and they made quite the winning combination. With Mr Parker and Mr Proud the club managed over one hundred event wins per season regularly. Towards the end of the century, the club managed to get funding for the building of the current ergo room. This was used by rowing clubs across the North East but was also instrumental in the great successes in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Mr Graham, an Art teacher, then joined the coaching team and helped continued the success of the club. In 2004, the club achieved something remarkable by coming top of the medal table at National Schools Regatta – 4 events entered and 4 gold medals won.
2006 saw some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the club. At Durham Regatta, the club entered 20 events and amazingly won 18 of them. There was also further international representation with Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell racing at the Junior World Championships as well as two other crews at the Home International Regatta. This was followed by the news that the boathouse roof was in dire need of repair. Activities from the boathouse then had to be stopped. This led to the filtering away of many pupils to other rowing clubs at Tyne and Durham.
Nonetheless, under the stewardship of Mr Stonehouse and Mr Proud, the boat club struggled on and by 2009 was thriving again. Since then success has come in ebbs and flows with notable success coming from Matthew Curtis and Ollie Varley in the double scull.
At present the boat club numbers are thriving and higher than in recent memory. The current crop have no doubt been spurred on by the achievements of Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell who was in the Olympic squad as the men’s 8 spare in 2016. James Harris, a former rower, was also the coach of the silver medal-winning 8 which contained Jess Eddie, a former pupil and rower at Durham ARC.
Here is a list of events that our rowers, from Year 8 up to 13, will be competing in.
Sat 3rd Feb – Durham Small Boats Head
Sat 10th Feb – Junior Inter Regional Trials in Ashington
Sun 4th March – Yorkshire Head in York
Sat 24th March – Ponteland Junior Head in Newburn