The mid-1800s was where it all began.
Back then rowing on the River Wear was less formal, starting with ‘professionals’ who earned money through challenge matches against rowers from other areas in the North East. At the time, large amounts of money changed hands as spectators placed bets on the outcome of each race. Often ‘ringers’ were introduced, so early races could be lost in order to build up the betting pot, with final races being won and winnings being claimed. This often led to a quick exit in order to escape the angry losers in the crowd.
In 1888, the rowing club was formed and enthusiastic rowers carried the boats down a set of steps that are now hidden in the undergrowth. After the original boathouse burned down during the 1930s, a new one was built and out of the ashes of the past grew a new reinvigorated club.
The 1950s saw many successes and the club grew into a strong loyal band of skilled rowers, winning many regattas over the years.
After a few years, the club sadly dwindled. Members retired and this led to the club closing for a few years, leaving the boathouse locked and boats rotting away inside.
Bob Heywood resurrected the club in the 1980s and a kind sponsor donated three boats, allowing the club to increase in numbers again, laying the foundations for the club we have today. There have been many successes over the years and the Bryant name will always remain part of the club’s proud history. Victoria Bryant began as a teenager, rowing for fun, but she soon developed into an accomplished rower, eventually representing Great Britain and winning the Under 23 Ladies Eights at the World Championships.
Our history began with enthusiastic rowers taking to the water out of pure enthusiasm and this has led to the club we see today – a fantastic family orientated amateur rowing club which remains active on the River Wear.