Sir William Armstrong Amateur Rowing Club

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The Sir William Armstrong Amateur Rowing Club (not to be confused with the earlier Elswick Amateur Rowing Club) was founded in 1886 and was based on the north bank of the River Tyne at Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In the above photograph, from 1899, Lord Armstrong appears second from the left at the top of the stairs. ‘Workshop of the World’ is a phrase often used to describe Britain’s manufacturing dominance during the Nineteenth Century. It’s also a very apt description for the Elswick Works and Scotswood Works of Vickers Armstrong and its predecessor companies. These great factories, situated in Newcastle along the banks of the River Tyne, employed hundreds of thousands of men and women and built a huge variety of products for customers around the globe. The Elswick Works was established by William George Armstrong (later Lord Armstrong) in 1847 to manufacture hydraulic cranes. From these relatively humble beginnings the company diversified into many fields including shipbuilding, armaments and locomotives. By 1953 the Elswick Works covered 70 acres and extended over a mile along the River Tyne.

7th August 1886
The Leeds Times reported: A New Tyne rowing club was inaugurated at Elswick on Saturday, under the style of the Sir Wm. Armstrong Amateur Rowing Club. Despite a heavy downpour of rain there was a large attendance, amongst those present being Sir W. G. and Lady Armstrong, the Mayor of Newcastle (Mr. B. C. Brown), the Mayoress, and Captain Noble, R.A. Captain Noble, as President of the club, presented Lady Armstrong with a silver key, and her ladyship unlocked the door of the boathouse and declared it open.

4th July 1887
The Newcastle Daily Chronicle reported: Armstrong Rowing Club - Workmen's Open Boat Championship Race. This competition, which has been instituted by the above Club for the purposes of endeavouring to increase the participation in rowing amongst the workmen in the Elswick works, was decided on Saturday Afternoon. There were ten entries, which number included one or more scullers who are well known in local circles. The first prize was a silver cup value £10 10s with title of Champion, second £2 10s and third £1 10s. The weather was unpleasantly hot for rowing and the water lumpy, which caused the times to be rather slow. Thomas Purvis was the winner beating R. Patrick by one length.

18th July 1887
The Sporting Life reported: SIR WILLIAM ARMSTRONG ROWING CLUB. INTER-CLUB RACES ON THE TYNE. On Saturday afternoon, an inter-club race, under the auspices of the above club, was brought off the Tyne, over the usual half-mile course from the Elswick Gasometers to the Boathouse Jetty. Splendid weather prevailed, and the river was in grand condition for rowing. Details:—Heat 1: North Station.—South Shields Rowing Club—Purvis, Scott, Scott, Wilson (stroke)—first. South Station.—Tynemouth Rowing Club—W. Oliver, F. Hastie, C. Watkin, W. Lamb (stroke)-second. Both crews got good start, but South Shields soon began to show their superiority, and gradually gained their opponents, and won by a good three lengths. Heat 2: North Station.—Armstrong Rowing Club—J.S.H.R. Engelbach, D.S. Craig, G. Irvine (stroke); T.H. Davison (cox.)—first. South Station.—Newcastle Rowing Club - names not sent—absent. The Armstrong crew rowed over the course, their opponents, the Newcastle Rowing Club crew, not putting in an appearance. Final Heat; South Shields R.C., first; Sir W. Armstrong ARC, second. The crews got well away together, and kept level until within few yards of the finishing post, when the South Shields crew spurted away, and won still race by three-quarters of a length.

5th September 1887
The Shields Daily News reported: THE TYNE INTER-CLUB RACES AT SOUTH SHIELDS. Saturday afternoon four crews, representing Tynemouth, Ryton, South Shields, Sir William Armstrong ARC, took part, in the Tyne inter-club races, decided over the half-mile course on the north side of the South Shields Pier. The weather was fine, though dull. The sea being quite calm, made the course everything that could be desired for rowing. A large company of spectators assembled on the pier to witness the various heats. Mr R. Purvis, jun., officiated as judge. Charles Rennoldson starter and the umpires Messrs. N.S. Green and G.S. Purvis. Details:— HEAT. South Shields ARC: J.T. Atkin, J. Davidson, H.G. Scott, Fred Rennoldson (stroke), J. Bedlington (cox.) 1 Ryton ARC: R.R. Pirrie, W, Alderson, T.W. Bourne (stroke), J. Dalton (cox) 2 The boats were despatched to a good start. the South Shields men on the outside holding a slight lead until half the distance had been reached, when the boats came close to each other than foul seemed unavoidable. However, they righted themselves without coming into contact. The South Shields crew ultimately won a slow race by two lengths. SECOND HEAT. Sir W. G. Armstrong ARC: J. S. Patterson, J. H. Hutchison, G.E. Robson. A.H. Jopling (stroke) I Tynemouth RC: P. Burn, T.B. Forster, J.H. Barn, W.E. Lamb (stroke) Nothing interesting in this race occurred until three-parts of the distance had been traversed, when the Armstrong crew spurted to the front, and gradually increased their lead, won somewhat easily by a length and a quarter. FINAL HEAT. South Shields ARC 1. Sir William Armstrong ARC. 2. South Shields, on the inside, kept close to the side of the pier, thereby giving their opponents a wide berth. A close race ensued till 50 yards from home, when the South Shields men got ahead, and won easily by a length.

7th February 1889
The Newcastle Journal reported: SIR W. ARMSTRONG AMATEUR ROWING CLUB DINNER. — The third annual dinner in connection with the Sir W. Armstrong Amateur Rowing Club was held at the Crown Hotel, Clayton Street, Newcastle, last night. Compared with the other clubs on Tyneside, the Armstrong holds prominent position, strong in numbers, and their performances during the past season were very creditable. The club was represented at most of the different regattas held in the north, and successful several occasions in gaining first and second honours. About thirty persons sat down to dinner, which was excellently served by the hostess (Miss Robson). The chair was occupied by the popular Captain (Mr Carter); 1st lieutenant, was the vice chair.—The chairman proposed " The Club." Songs were given by Mr G. Irvine, Mr F. Watson, Mr T.H. Dacres, D.J. Watson, and Mr Hewitt. Mr A. de Pelsenaire gave a musical sketch, and Mr Prior contributed a recitation. A pleasant evening closed with the singing of "Auld Lang Syne"

29th April 1893
The Newcastle Journal reported: The fourth and fifth heats for the Major Jones Cup were rowed off last night. The Steam Launch Winifred has been kindly lent to the friends of members for this afternoon to witness the semi finals and final, which will undoubtedly make the termination of this event a very pleasant as well as successful one.

20th May 1893
The Newcastle Journal reported: For the last three nights, the club has been busy with their sliding-seat Foy Fours event. Engelbach, Pereyra, Richardson, Clenton beat the crew of Hughes, Lightfoot, Reeve, W. Graham.

19th April 1894
Newcastle Journal reported: ARMSTRONG AMATEUR ROWING CLUB. The season having commenced, much activity is shown in this very flourishing club. Some 30 members are training for the first four-oared race of the year. The heats, which will be decided on the 27th and 28th inst., are anticipated with keen interest. Of the seven crews entered, the following gentlemen have been selected strokes:—Messrs Reeve, Highton. Davies, Hutchinson, Mayson. Hughes, and Engleback. Last evening Hughes’s crew met with an accident, which caused much excitement to those whom it concerned and the many who witnessed the mishap from terra firma. Whilst off the boat landing the boat came into violent contact with an iron buoy in mid-stream. The craft met with such serious damage that it was with great difficulty and courage that the crew managed reach the shore just in time to save the unpleasant necessity and the many dangers attending a swim under such circumstances. Each oarsman had his feet strapped to the footboard at the time of the occurrence.

23rd June 1894
The Newcastle Journal reported: During the last three evenings, the members of this club have been holding their handicap sculling competition for the Mr. W.C. Le B. Foley prize. T. Robinson beat H. Pearson easily.

Won the Corporation Challenge Cup at Durham Regatta.

Won the Junior Stakes at Durham Regatta.

Won the Oswald Plate (L. Davies).

Won the Wear Scurry Plate
Won the Lady Herschell Plate at Durham Regatta.
Won the Oswald Plate (R. Taylor).

24th August 1899
The Talkin Tarn Regatta Programme shows an Armstrong crew competing in the Junior Fours event (Brampton Plate). Crew H.Dickinson, T.Bell, ? Shakespeare, D.Taylor coxed by H.Collingwood. Taylor also sculled in the Naworth Castle Plate for Fine Strake Boats.

28th March 1934
A much later mention is made in March 1934 of the funeral of a Mr. Harry Atkinson at Whitley Bay. "Newcastle Quayside firms were well represented at the funeral at Whitley Ray New Cemetery, yesterday, of Mr Harry Atkinson who died at his home in Langley Avenue, Monkseaton, on Thursday, after an illness of a few months. He was a prominent athlete in his younger days, playing Rugby Football for the North Durham and Elswick Clubs, and rowing for the Armstrong Club."