Club still keeping its head above water

Club Captain David Wright (left) and Chief Coach Barrie Hanley celebrating the centenary of Cambois Rowing Club at Ashington.
Club Captain David Wright (left) and Chief Coach Barrie Hanley celebrating the centenary of Cambois Rowing Club at Ashington.
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CAMBOIS Rowing Club has certainly had its fair share of setbacks, including being forced to relocate no fewer than five times, the closure of the nearby pits and a devastating arson attack.

However, 100 years after its launch it is still growing strong, churning out rowers capable of winning national competitions and welcoming members from the age of 11 right up to 80.

Chief coach Barrie Hanley, has been a member of the club for 57 years, so he can remember only too well some of the tough times its committee has had to face.

A significant setback was the arson attack on its clubhouse in 1992.

Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused, and the club was left with just one boat, and that was only because it had been on loan to Durham’s rowing club at the time.

He said: “It was a tough time building it back up from nothing.

“We used to have to go and train at other clubs and use their water.”

But just over a year later, members of the club were racing again, and its ladies’ team picked up a silver medal in a competition in a borrowed boat.

That arson attack wasn’t the biggest challenge the club had to face, however.

Because it was founded by miners, all contributing 3p of their wages to cover its costs, the closure of the colliery at Cambois in 1968, forcing many members of the club to moved away from the village in search of new jobs, hit it hard.

Barrie said: “At one point there were only 16 members, but we worked hard and kept it going.”

Barrie visited nearby schools to build up membership, and the first ladies’ eight team was soon made up entirely of pupils from Ashington and Bedlington high schools.

Despite having to relocate rivers from the Blyth to the Wansbeck five times, the club has managed to make it to its 100th birthday and is now looking to the future.

“It’s a matter of surviving,” said Barrie.

“Not a lot of people know we are here, and we are looking to attract new members.”

The club’s present home is on the Wansbeck at Black Close Bank in Ashington.

Among its current success stories is Katy Peace, a pupil at King Edward VI School in Morpeth.

She capped her first season as a single sculler with a gold medal in the women’s junior-17 single sculls class at the National Rowing Championships at Holme Pierrepont, near Nottingham, a week ago on Sunday.

Katy began rowing two years ago in a crew with her school friends, but she was forced into single sculling when one of her crew emigrated to Australia last year.

During a successful season with wins at venues from York to Berwick, Katy also won the women’s elite class at the Durham Regatta, and she hopes to carry her winning run into next season.

For more information about the club, visit www.cambois-rowing.org