At a meeting called by the Mayor, it was resolved to form a Rowing Club, to be called ‘Bedford Amateur Rowing Club’. During 1886 and the following two years, various boats were purchased from Messrs Chetham & Biffin and in 188, it was agreed with Messrs Chetham & Biffin to house the boats at their Duck Mill boathouse (our present home!).
A Special General Meeting agreed to rename the Club ‘The Bedford Rowing and Sailing Club’ and that the Club Colours be black and white. At a further SGM two months later, Charles Wells was elected Commodore of the sailing section of the Club and a regatta was to be organised in September that year.
The Club’s name was changed back to ‘Bedford Rowing Club’ and the colours were changed to Maroon, White and Blue. The first discussions were arranged with the Headmasters of Bedford Grammar and Bedford Modern Schools concerning a proposed joint boathouse at Longholme.
It was agreed that a Rifle Club would be formed of members of Bedford Rowing Club.
No racing took place during the war, and only three committee meetings are recorded, mainly to keep abreast of the Club’s finances.
The first light racing eight oared boat was purchased from Trinity College, Oxford, for £40. An eight was entered for the first time at Bedford Regatta.
The Club moved to a shared boathouse at Longholme with the Bedford School and Bedford Modern School Boat Clubs. Negotiations had been recorded the previous year as ongoing between the three Clubs and the Town Council.
The Committee agreed to enter an eight for the Henley Thames cup for the first time.
An eight was entered for the ‘Head of the River’ race in London for the first time.
Activities curtailed due to the war. None were recorded between 1942 and 1946, when an Extraordinary General Meeting appointed a caretaker administration after the war.
Formation of a Ladies’ section was considered but proved impractical at the Longholme boathouse.
Following the death in 1954 of R Chetham, Chetham’s Boathouse in Duck Mill Lane was leased for 42 years by the Corporation of the Borough of Bedford to the Trustees of the Bedford Rowing Club. Acquisition of Chetham’s Boathouse first formally discussed in 1957. Following this acquisition, a clubroom and bar were constructed for social events by members of the Club. Subsequently, a separate Social Club was formed.
Following the winning by A Ward of the gold medal in Junior (Under 18) single sculls at the National Championships, a Junior Section separate from the adults was formed. Subsequently, members of the Club attending Pilgrim and Mark Rutherford Upper (comprehensive) Schools raced successfully under their schools’ names as well as the Club’s name at various regattas and the National Championships.
A small Ladies changing room was constructed and a Ladies’ Section was formed which has subsequently raced very successfully.
Following an arson attack, much of the upper part of the boathouse was destroyed by fire. Over the next few years the boathouse was rebuilt and extended, with better changing facilities, a gym and training and meeting rooms on the upper floor which had previously only been loft space.
The club today sits on the riverfront, as a continuing and ever present part of the culture and community of Bedford. Rowing has been part of Bedford for so many years and Bedford Rowing Club continues to produce athletes of high calibre whilst continuing to support the grass roots of the sport.