Tees Rowing Club
(With grateful thanks to Chris Kenyon for compilation)
On 16th June of this year The Stockton and Hartlepool Mercury and Middlesbrough News reports “Tees Amateur Boat Club – a club of this description has recently been formed in Stockton with the double object of providing a pleasant pastime and a useful relaxation to its members”.
President: Joseph Dodds. Captain: G.N. Duck. Hon Sec: John Trotter.
On the 6th March the first Annual General Meeting of Tees ABC is held at The Black Lion Hotel, Stockton. The club has 39 ordinary, 3 honorary and 9 life members. The first “Tees Regatta” is held on Thursday June 22nd. The poster for this event, kindly donated by past TRC Secretary Malcolm Lambert, hangs in the bar of the River Tees Watersports Centre.
Rivals appear on the River Tees in the form of Middlesbrough Amateur Boating Club whose boathouse is some 3 miles downstream in the Newport area of that town. At this time the lowest river crossing is at Stockton Bridge - now the site of the present Victoria Bridge at Stockton. The two clubs regularly race each other on the Tees. The Stockton course being from Thornaby Wood to the Tees Boathouse, a distance of about one mile whilst the Middlesbrough course is over a similar distance on Billingham Reach. Old programmes in the Tees archives indicate that these were well attended events.
From Bell's Life 25th Aug 1866: T. Nicholson of the Tees Rowing Club, Stockton, will row anyone belonging to Sunderland in 12 foot boats for from £25 to £50 a side and will give reasonable expenses to row on the Tees. A match can be made at Mr. M. Newton’s Rokeby Hotel, South Stockton (now Thornaby-on-Tees).
From Bell's Life 25th Aug 1866: W. Nicholson will row any of the defeated men at the Tees Regatta for £5 or £10 a side. A match can be made at Mr. Newton’s Rokeby Hotel, South Stockton (now Thornaby-on-Tees).
Believed to be the first recorded win by the Tees club – RW Bolsover, S Holmes, JH Tarleton, JF Roberts and J Nicholson (cox) win the Stewards Plate at Durham Regatta.
Tees win the Ladies Plate at York
“Stockton Amateur Rowing Club” hold their Annual Dinner at The Argyle Hotel on 18th October. Ticket price is 5/- (25p).
“Stockton Amateur Rowing Club” hold their Annual Dinner at The Argyle Hotel on 30th October. Tickets cost 5/- (25p). On 27th January the club buys from The Ecclesiastical Commissioners the 782 sq. yard site on which its boathouse stands. The price is £117.6s. (£117. 30p). It will occupy this site continuously until 2001 when the club moves to The River Tees Watersports Centre, - Ed).
President: John Trotter. Captain: JH Tarleton. Hon Sec: WJ Gray. Hon Treas: GE Pybus. The AGM is held at The Argyle Hotel. Tees win The York Challenge Cup. The Joint Secretaries for Tees Amateur Regatta held on 7th July are R Wilson Bolsover and one Mr Albert deLande Long – no less a person than a former winner of the Wingfield Sculls while with London RC who subsequently was one of the joint founders of Dorman Long Ltd., builders of the Sydney Harbour and Tyne Bridges.
Tees win York Sculls
Tees win the Stewards and the City Members Plate at Durham. A joint Tees ABC/Middlesbrough ABC regatta is held at Yarm in August. The course is from the bend below the Friarage to the bend below Yarm Bridge (the same course is to be used in 1957 when the first post war Tees Regatta is held).
Tyne Pairs is won.
The Corporation Challenge Cup is won at Durham Regatta.
A fund opened in September to buy a new racing four raises £39. 4/- (£39.20p) - just over the cost of the boat.
Tees win The Mayors Plate at Durham
President: George Thompson. Captain: ? Hon Sec/Treas: T.R.G.Rowland. The club wins The Lady Herschell Plate at Durham Regatta and also races in The Corporation Challenge Cup and The Mayors Plate. The club’s entry in The Lady Anne Lambton Plate is disqualified by the regatta committee on the grounds that two of the crew had previously been in the Tees Cup winning crew. An appeal by the club to The Amateur Rowing Association is successful. The ARA rule that as the Tees and Ironmasters Cups are matches which, as at present rowed, are confined to TABC and MABC and therefore the Durham Regatta Committee decision was wrong. A club dinner dance is held on Friday December 12th at The Borough Hall, Stockton-on-Tees. Tickets, including supper, are priced at 10/6 (52.5 p) for a double ticket, 7/- (35 p) for gentlemen and 3/6 (17.5 p) for ladies. (A splendid photographic portrait of George Thompson JP and the 1902 Durham Regatta programme are filed in the Tees RC archives)
Wins are recorded in Junior Sculls and The Oswald Plate at Durham and in The Cutter Race at Sunderland.
The Lady Anne Lambton Plate is won at Durham.
President: F Brown (Mayor of Stockton). In February a Whist Drive is held at The Masonic Hall attended by 200 “ladies and gentlemen”. The Summer Fours are held in June over a half mile course. Tees beat Middlesbrough for the Tees Cup after “a ding dong race”. Fifty members and friends attend the closing fours which are held at Yarm on September 15th. Five crews compete. Tea is served afterwards at The Black Bull Hotel followed by a Smoker. A large crowd watch a professional sculling match between J H Walker of Thornaby and Harry Atkinson of Chester-le-Street which is held over a half a mile course at Stockton for £25 a side. Walker wins by one and a half lengths although the betting was 11/10 on Atkinson.
The Oswald Plate is won at Durham and The Cutter Race at Tyne “At Home”. The challenge race with Middlesbrough ABC for the Tees Challenge Cup is raced over the Thornaby High Wood to Railway Bridge Course, a distance of approximately 1.25 miles. MABC win by “4 yards”. Tees are also beaten by MABC in the Ironmasters Challenge Cup race. The Northern Athlete reports that “afterwards they smilingly departed for their annual fishing excursion to the mouth of the Tees ....where they had a royal time. They indulged in such sports as “cockle spotting” and water polo “in birthday costumes only”. Although the club can’t relieve their Middlesbrough brethren of the Tees and Ironmasters Cups they are not downhearted. Life with them has its compensations”. The season’s closing fours are held at Yarm where a capital day’s sport is enjoyed in charming conditions before a fairly large crowd of spectators.
President: Ald. G. Thompson. Captain: T.R.G. Rowland. Hon Sec: Hon Treas: W.C. Willis. Tees ABC and Middlesbrough ABC hold their Joint “At Home” Regatta on the Tees course on Saturday July 25th. Programmes are priced at 2d (say 1p). Photos of Tees sculler G Iredale and the Tees Ironmasters winning crew are published in that night’s Sports Gazette. A Supper and Smoker is held at The Royal Hotel, High Street, Stockton promoted jointly with Middlesbrough ABC and also attended by representatives of other sports bodies including Mr. H.T. James of the Neptune Club, Mr. C. McAdams of the Richmond Meet, Mr. C.L. Townsend, Captain of Norton Cricket Club and Mr. J. Nattrass of Stockton Automobile Club. T.R.G. Rowland of Tees ABC in responding to a toast to the club remarked that “the proper way to popularise the sport would be to form a Federation of Northern Amateur Rowing Clubs”. G Iredale wins the prestigious Black Diamond Challenge Cup at Tyne Regatta.
The opening fours are held on May 8th – a photo of a Tees crew is published on line in the Picture Stockton Archive. An outstanding season – we win The Black Diamond Challenge Cup and Maiden (Novice) Fours at Tyne Regatta, Junior Fours at Tyne “At Home” and The Grand Challenge Cup at Durham. (It will be 75 years before Tees win it again).
The Ironmasters Cup is won. A press report on Tees Regatta (run jointly by Tees ABC and Middlesbrough ABC) comments on the “absence of any effective organisation” and makes a number of constructive suggestions. These include siting the enclosure at either the start or the finish rather than in the middle of the course. At Durham Regatta we win Jubilee Sculls, The Lady Anne Lambton Plate beating Bede College in the final and The Mayor’s Plate beating Durham (City) in the final. A club photograph which includes 21 members and the trophies is taken in George Thompson’s garden at 16 The Green, Norton. (This photo is in excellent condition and is in the Tees RC archives).
President: Coun. Walter Thompson. Captain: T.R.G. Rowland. Hon Sec: Thomas Dent. Hon Treas: Harold Walton. Membership: 69 Ordinary members, 36 Life Members. G Iredale the club’s senior sculler establishes an amateur record for the north by winning the Championships of the Wear (Durham Regatta), the Tyne (Tyne ARC Regatta), The Ouse (York Regatta), the Tees (Tees and Middlesbrough Joint Regatta). Wins are also recorded at Durham in the Lady Anne Lambton Plate and at Tyne in Senior Strakes. The club Autumn Fours are held at Yarm but racing has to be abandoned when a rigger on one of the club boats breaks. The club instigates meetings of all the amateur clubs in the north with a view to fixing regatta dates. In effect this is the founding of what we now know as the Northern Rowing Council. Chairman is John Wallace of Tyne ARC and Officers are T.R.G. Rowland, T.E. Dent and H. Walton of Tees ABC.
President: Coun. Walter Thompson. Captain: T.R.G. Rowland. Hon Sec and Treas: Thomas Dent. G Iredale offers his skiff for sale. The club Captain buys it for £6 “to prevent it passing out of the club”. Club Vice President Frank Brown is knighted. An idea to raise funds for boat purchase by raffling a gold watch is abandoned when it is found to be illegal. At York we win The York Challenge Cup, at Tyne The Percy Challenge Cup and at Tynemouth The Open Sculling Race.
President: T.R.G. Rowland. Captain: Fred Thompson. Hon Sec and Treas: Thomas Dent. Burglaries and wear and tear almost totally depletes the stock of towels at the boathouse. The matter is placed in the hands of the Captain and Vice Captain. Eight crews race at the Spring Fours on Opening Day. Thomas Dent resigns as Hon Sec/Treas to take up an appointment in New York, USA. The side of the boathouse is damaged by “cinder pickers who break off some of the lats. A letter is sent to the Police Superintendant reporting the damage and asking them to “see that the place is looked after during the close season”. The club agrees to allow Messrs. James and Bulmer to store a canoe in the boathouse but declines their request for a key as this “would establish a dangerous precedent”. They are told that they must follow existing practice of collecting it from The Alexandra. (A pub at in Bridge Road opposite the end of Boathouse Lane).
President: Ald. B Stephenson, Captain: Fred Thompson. Hon Sec and Treas: Chas Atkin. The Club’s 50th Anniversary of its founding. A history of the club is prepared by the Hon. Secretary and published in the Sports Gazette (a copy of this is in the Tees RC archives). At Tees Regatta we win The Ironmasters Challenge Cup beating Middlesbrough ABC for a record seventh successive year. The Tees crew is W.L. Kingdom, A.F.L. Green, H. Wintersgill, G.H. Rowland and J.R. Gillies (cox). The Middlesbrough crew includes Alf Tomlinson – later to become President of Tees ARC. Tees also win the Tees Cup. There is a good attendance of ladies and gentlemen and the Thornaby Scout Band is in attendance. Henry Wright retires after 33 years as Boatman. Members subscribe to and present him with a silver mounted pipe and case, the balance of the £7 raised was given in a purse. Henry Walker of 78 Buchanan Street is appointed as Boatman for a one year trial period at the rate of ten shillings (50p) per week. The Captain and Secretary are asked to draw up a list of duties for him. (So - Nothing new about Job Descriptions) Heavy tides and fresh water damage the boathouse steps. W.H. Barry applies to join the club. Decision deferred pending advice from Amateur Rowing Association in respect of his “amateur status”. ARA replies that “if Barry lost his amateur status since serving his apprenticeship he could not compete at any ARA regatta”. TABC respond to the ARA by saying that Barry was called before the committee and assured them that he had not lost his amateur status. Accordingly he was elected to membership “providing the ARA do not advise to the contrary as he complies with our local rules the same as other members”. What is then termed “The European War” breaks out. (It was only many years later that it was referred to as “The First World War”). The Hon Sec is asked to write to the Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees and “offer the use of our premises for any purpose that it may be found useful for during the present crisis. The club decides to “join the Cricket Club in offering their help to the Authorities should it be found necessary to defend the town in case of withdrawal of the Territorial Force”. Soldiers guarding the Railway Bridge take up the offer to use the club’s Dressing Room and Bathroom. Regattas are cancelled owing to the outbreak of war.
President: Ald. B Thompson (Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees). Captain: Fred Thompson. Hon Sec and Treas: Chas Atkin. A significant entry in the minutes confirms that there were two rowing clubs on the Tees at Stockton. Two fours are offered for sale to the club by “The Stockton and Thornaby Rowing Club” - a professional club. The price is £17- 10s (£17.50) to include a set of oars. Sadly it would appear that the professional club has to sell up and close to “meet their accounts”. The Northern Amateur Rowing Council cancels all regattas for the season.
President: Ald. B. Stephenson. Captain: Fred Thompson. Hon Sec and Treas: Chas Atkin. Members serving in the armed forces are elected to Honorary Membership. An approach is received from Mr B. Wren, formerly Secretary of Stockton and Thornaby Rowing Club who wishes to know if he could join the club to store his skiff and use the landing so that he can continue his training as a professional rower. The Committee “would not entertain this proposition”. Reports are received of members being killed and wounded in action. The boathouse is only open at weekends.
President: Ald. B. Stephenson. Captain: Fred Thompson. Hon Sec and Treas: Chas Atkin. The management of the club is left in the hands of the Captain and Vice Captain if they are unable to assemble a quorum of Committee Members. The boathouse is open for June and July. 29 members are “serving under the King’s Colours”. With so many members away an appeal for funds is made to the Vice Presidents (who presumably are non sub paying) to contribute in place of the absent members. This produced a good response.
President: Ald. B. Stephenson. Captain: Fred Thompson. Hon Sec and Treas: Chas Atkin. The club bought the site on which the boathouse stands in 1875 with the aid of a mortgage of £180. In view of the shortage of members difficulty is encountered in making repayments on the now outstanding balance of £120. T.R.G. Rowland generously not only takes over the mortgage but also declines any interest on repayments. An appeal is launched to raise funds to redeem the mortgage “before the boys come home”. The war ends on 11th November. Honours boards are created to recognise those members who had been killed in the war – sadly these no longer exist.
President: Coun. Walter Thompson. Captain: G.H. Rowland. Hon Sec and Treas: Chas Atkin. The club wins Maiden Fours (now known as Novice Fours - Ed) at York At Home Regatta. It is reported that the Railway Company damaged in transit a pair of sculling blades beyond repair. (For many years club boats and oars were carried by rail). O. Johnson is in the Cambridge 2nd Crew. He states that it was due to the good rowing he had had while a member of TABC. The boathouse and contents are insured for £1000. Rowing and sculling races are held as part of the Peace Celebrations. The mortgage is paid off in September. A Dinner at The Royal Hotel is proposed in celebration of this and the return of members from the war.