On the 15th March 1886 a meeting of a dozen or so people got together to form the Bedford Rowing Club. The boathouse first used by the club was at Batts Ford, where Star Club now stands. Early in the 20th Century the Club moved to share the Schools’ Boathouse at Longholme and finally moved to the present site in the early 1960’s.
In 1998, a week after the Head, the Club was flooded, as was a large part of Southern Bedford – many of the boats were damaged. (A picture of the floods is in the clubroom.) Then in 1984 a fire lit by an intruder burnt and destroyed the top floor & clubroom. Members rallied around and the club was rebuilt with a new extension added.
In 1933 the Club’s first eight rowed in the final of the Thames Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, only to lose to Kent School, USA. In the mid 1940’s again the Club reached a Henley final, this time in the Double Sculls, sadly to lose. In 1970 a crew from Bedford Rowing Club won through to the final of the Britannia Cup – again only to be the runners up.
Every year the Rowing Magazine compiled a list of wins, awarding points for success. There were over 600 clubs, schools & college rowing clubs in the UK. In the 1989/90 season Bedford Rowing Club came second overall and in the next season came top, with more wins than any other club. The Jackson Trophy, awarded for the fastest provincial club, was won by the Club in 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992. The Club won the Trent Head at Nottingham in 1992 with the Women’s Open Eight, and in the same year won Women’s Coxed Fours on the Tideway. Not satisfied with that, the eight split into two fours for Women’s Henley, with both crews reaching the final – the A crew beating the B crew.
Listed below are some of the Club’s many successes:
1986 National Championships – Men’s Heavyweight VIIIs
1986 Britannia Cup at Henley Royal Regatta
1991 National Championships – Lightweight VIIIs
1992 National Championships – Lightweight VIIIs
1992 Ghent, Belgium
1993 Represented England in Coxed & Coxless Fours
1995 London Head – Veteran B VIIIs
1995 Molesey Head – Veteran B VIIIs
1996 National Championships – Women’s Coxless Pairs, and silver medal in Women’s 4+, then going on to represent England.
The Veterans have won many pots, both in the UK and in Europe. A number of Men’s Masters crews have come home with winners’ medals from such places as Prague, Amsterdam, Ghent, Vichy, Banyoles & Nottingham. Crews have won at the National Veterans v & Henley Masters Regattas in 2011, 2013, 2016 & 2017.
The Junior squad has been very successful during the last few years, with Gold, Silver & Bronze medals at the National Championships.
Rory Henderson should not be forgotten. He coxed many of the Club’s crews in the 1980’s. He joined Leander Club, and won the Diamond Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta in 1992!
Today (2018) Bedford Rowing Club is a strong team of committed rowers and there is a large and ever growing Junior Section – hopefully the backbone of the Club in the future.