Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club Fights Council eviction
London, 21st August 2018
For the first time in its 121-year history, no one will be out on the water at Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club. On Sunday 19th August, Hounslow Borough Council shut Chiswick Boathouse, denying rowers at Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club access to their clubhouse and boats. The next day, the Council changed the locks and took away their keys.
With no prior warning, communication or negotiation, last month the club were given just four weeks’ notice of the eviction from the Council – leaving little time to appeal or relocate.
The Council’s plans are to demolish the clubhouse and use the land to construct another boathouse. The key issue is the current building will remain in place for at least the next two to three years until the necessary funds have been secured to build a new boathouse. So why the early action?
Hounslow council are challenging the club’s lease (that has been in place – uncontested – for the past 33 years and in theory runs until 2033). The council’s actions have forced the club to spend a past President’s hard-earned legacy to seek legal clarification from the High Courts. In the interim period Hounslow are denying the club access to the boathouse (unless they give up their existing lease and move to a rolling six-month license).
Established in 1897, Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club has a proud heritage of international representation stretching back to the 1960s. The Chiswick-based club is a keystone of the UK rowing community. Olympic medallists Sir Steve Redgrave CBE, James Cracknell OBE, and Martin Cross are just a few of the rowing stars who raced for Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club.
In a sport often labelled as elitist, the club has always succeeded in championing rowers from all levels and backgrounds – from young children to veterans and everything in between.
James Cracknell OBE, an active member of the club, said
“There are rowers who are locked out of their clubhouse, unable to use their own boats. I trust the council will see the unfairness in this situation and at least postpone this action until a way forward can be found to restore rowing at the club. Thames Tradesmen’s is a unique club that offers fantastic sporting and social activities for the local community.”.
Paul Arnold, the Captain commented:
“Thames Tradesmen’s is one of the oldest and most successful rowing clubs on the Tideway. We want it to be around for the next 121 years. Our ambition is to introduce the local community of all ages and backgrounds to the camaraderie, discipline and health benefits of this wonderful sport. All we want to do is get back on the water.”.
To safeguard the future of the club and of British rowing heritage, Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club have appealed to the public for help.
The club has set up a petition requesting that Hounslow Borough Council withdraw the eviction. Thames Tradesmen’s hope that enough people will sign to convince the Council to get them back on the water, so their members can carry on doing what they love most – rowing. Within 24 hours, the petition had already received over 7,000 signatures.