There has been rowing on the River Wear at Chester le Street since the mid 1800’s
Starting with professionals who earned their money by challenge matches against other areas. These often attracted huge crowds and massive amounts of money changed hands. Often ringers were introduced to build up the betting by loosing a couple of races then coming good later when pitted against local favourites. This often meant a quick exit with winnings stuffed in pocket to avoid a lynching by a partisan crowd.
The rowing club according to our records was founded in 1888 and rowed out of a boathouse in the park; the access to the river was by a set of steps now overgrown just above the wear. In the 1930’s this boathouse burnt down and was replaced with a new timber structure that carried an advert for “ Dainty Dinah Toffee”
The rowing club was very strong in the 1950’s and won many regattas throughout the area. Sadly as the members aged the demand for rowing saw a downturn and the club struggled and closed for a few years, the boats rotted away hung on the sides of the building and when Bob Heywood resurrected the club in the 1980’s there was not a lot to row in. A kind sponsor donated 3 boats and the club managed to hang on by its teeth to a time when the numbers started to increase again and new blood came into the club to lay the foundations of the club we have today. The Bryant name will always be associated with Chester as Victoria became our world champion in the world championships, she rowed in the under 23 ladies 8.
We are at the present time still building for the future, we have a boathouse full of boats, but more importantly we have over 90 juniors and 25 seniors and veterans that have active sessions on and off the water throughout the year. We are well thought of by British Rowing as a lead club for junior development, we seem to attract a lot of girls to rowing and seem to keep them interested and participating for many years.
We have a lot of parents who have tried rowing and subsequently taken up the sport, you can usually hear them coming on the river before you can actually see them!
So that is a very brief resume of the rowing club, we are a very active, very happy, friendly club that shares its resources with the council sports development team to try and increase the number of people that are able to participate in this great sport.