Circ 1920s
Circa 1920s

“Loughborough Town Boating Club”, of which there are now no available records, was in existence some time before the present club was founded. The boats of the club came into the possession of the Loughborough Grammar School, and, when on March 18th, 1881, it was decided to form the Loughborough and District Boating Club, one of the first steps taken was to purchase the two four-oared boats owned by the School for £12. Arrangements were then made with Mr. Barnsdall (affectionately known as “B”) for the storage of the boats and the use of the dressing rooms at his wharf on Derby Road, and here the headquarters of the club were to remain for over fifty years.

Mr Frank White was the first president and Mr Chas Woolley the first secretary.  The club made rapid progress, new boats were purchased, and by the year 1886 the membership had reached 40.  In 1892 it was found necessary to limit the number of members to 60.  Enthusiasm for rowing became so keen that a byelaw was passed insisting that “every member taking out a club boat must return it before midnight on the day on which it is taken out”.

The dress of the club in 1884 was white jersey and trousers and a dark blue coat.  In 1892 the borough arms were adopted as the badge, with dark blue and old gold as the club colours.  No other local athletic organization has included so many men who have been prominent in the public life of the town.

For some years sailing races were a feature of the regatta, course being from the old Soar mouth to the Ferry reach, three times round. Also in 1898 the Club took out a lease of five years for the old maltings yard in Loughborough.

The club temporarily suspended activities during the war, owing to the number of members who joined the forces.  The first post war crew to bring honour to the club (J.Holmes, H.Harper, H.Aubrey and F. Hawker) won their maidens at Burton on Trent in 1922, and continued to row with marked success for several years. Revived in 1924, the regatta attracted good entries from the leading rowing clubs of the Midlands.

Crica 1920s
Crica 1920s

During this time the Loughborough Boat Club Regatta had been held at Normanton-on-Soar, amidst lovely surroundings. In 1931, The Loughborough Boat Club’s Jubilee Year was held at Kegworth, Leicestershire.

In the 1930s space was rented in the Old Mill at Zouch and was used as summer headquarters. Regattas were held on Saturdays only and they had a garden fete atmosphere with brass bands, beer tents and tea tents serving cream teas. Dress was white flannels and club blazers.

At the end of the decade when war was closing in several members joined various sections of the armed forces and the club closed for this period.

Post War

After the war the club could no longer rent the Old Mill at Zouch so the boats were kept at the Plough Inn for the summer months.

Bill Onions was elected captain and his main target was to restart the club. There were no fit boats to row initially and along with club members two German naval officers, who were both prisoners of war at the camp at Woodhouse, worked with skill and endeavour to make the boats rowable.

When Loughborough Boat Club had to leave the Normanton stretch in the 1960s it moved its annual regatta to a longer and straighter course on the Sutton Bonington side of the river just above Kegworth.  It was good site although everything had to be set up during the two weeks before the event.

Opening of New Club House 1964
Opening of New Club House 1964

In 1964 the new clubhouse was opened at Zouch, near Hathern.

In July 1973 there was a flood of over three feet of water across the regatta field and from that date the event moved to Nottingham National Water Sports Centre.  The floods had won!

At the start of the 1990s members of the club all pulled together and built an extra building which was added onto the current Boat House. This building is a big accomplishment as it now houses the gym, changing rooms and toilets.  Work was never ending during the decade and early in 2000 extra land was purchased from Lord Crawshaw to increase the size of the club site.

In 1999 saw the club host its first ever Head Race on the river Soar. The ‘Soar Head’ proved to be a success and is now firmly on the calendar.  The day consisted of 3 heats over 3000m, and was enjoyed by all.