Berwick Amateur Rowing Club

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Berwick Rowing Club was founded in early 1869 when a meeting was called in the town with the purpose of forming a rowing club, and at once a number of gentlemen enrolled as members. This was to promote the sport of rowing in a friendly and gentlemanly manner. A site was given to erect a boathouse on the Berwick side of the Tweed and constructed almost entirely of timber.

In the spring of 1869 the first boats were built and delivered to the club from the Tyne, which in those days was one of the main rowing centres in the world.

The first regatta held at Berwick was in September 1869 and the course on that particular day was from the Plantation to the Boathouse downstream. There have many courses held over the years and in 1907 the annual regatta was held at Horncliffe, about 7 miles upstream from the boathouse. The last time the 1869 course was used was in 1927, when the Royal Tweed Bridge was being built and the usual course from the Carr Rock to Coffee Rock could not be used.

Ladies Plate and the Marshall Meadows Goblets, these being nearly as old as the club itself! The Darling Cup was presented to the club by the late Ald. A. Darling, who was cox of the winning Berwick crew at the first regatta. The Marshall Cup and the Grey Cup were actual prizes won by former members many, many years ago. The Major Smail Cup, the F.B. Cowan Cup and the H.B. Tower Shield are all in the form of memorials to great club members of the past. The Thomas Fairbairn Cup was presented to the club by the late T. Fairbairn, whose son is a former member of one of the clubs greatest crews.

Since the war the club has had perhaps its greatest success at regattas. The senior fours have been won at nearly all the regattas in the North of England and also many good victories in senior sculls. The best of these was perhaps the capture of the Palmer Grand on the Tyne in 1963 and 1964, the Joseph Cowen in 1965 also on the Tyne and the winning of the Durham City Plate at Durham regatta in 1963. The club has also had wins in sculls at Birmingham and Cambridge as well as our own area. When N.R.D. Barlow was competing in the club in the early 60’s, he won his way into the semi-finals of the Diamond Sculls at Henley, only to lose there to the eventual winner from Switzerland.

During the clubs centenary year, the annual regatta to take place was not the 100th but the 70th. This was due to the two world wars and then the club fell on hard times at the beginning of the century so a few years were missed. Needless to say, the club has had its ups and downs over the years but where many other clubs have come and gone but B.A.R.C. has managed to fight off all the difficulties and can still compete with clubs from the north of England and south Scotland today.

15th March 1872
The Illustrated Berwick Journal commented:
The Boathouse of the Tweed Rowing Club is a decided improvement upon that of the Berwick Amateur Rowing Club. It is much larger, is fitted with more conveniences and will be considerably advantaged by the staging in front. Other improvements will, I doubt not, be made upon it as necessity calls for them but members of the Club have every reason to congratulate themselves on the possession of such a commodious boathouse, and success will be such as to maintain their position with great credit. They have already secured a number of good boats and I understand that a suitable dress has been chosen by which the members of the Tweed ARC will be distinguished while on duty. Next month, a start will be made and the admirers of the new Club will then have prowess in their aquatics.

23rd September 1891
The Shields daily News reported: A terrific flood came down the Tweed and the Berwick Rowing Club lost a boat that was severely damaged, whilst the Tweed Amateur Rowing Club suffered great damage to its boathouse, with much of the landing stages and frontage washed away, as well as the loss of two pleasure boats.