Olympic legend opens rowing club’s new landmark boathouse

Rowing legend Dame Katherine Grainger officially opened a new boathouse for St Andrew Boat Club, Edinburgh’s only open rowing club.

The £1 million development, which has been a decade in the making, will allow Scotland’s oldest rowing club to live up to its slogan, ‘Rowing for all’, and offer opportunities to many more athletes of all ages in the coming years.

The boathouse sits adjacent to the club’s current home at Meggetland on the Union Canal, and hosts space for dozens of boats, as well as changing facilities and a land training and social space.

The landmark build was financed through fundraising initiatives by club members – from a 16-hour non-stop row by the club’s junior coordinator, to a 75-mile cycle by a member who is aged 75, to the sale of boathouse bricks and foundation stones. The development was also supported through investment from sportscotland and donations from charitable trusts.

On Saturday, six-time rowing world champion Dame Katherine Grainger cut the ribbon to the new boathouse, and the first boat was carried into its new home by club members. The former Olympian and chair of UK Sport then went on a tour of the new facilities.

Dame Katherine, who is one of the UK’s most successful Olympians of all time with one gold and four silver medals, is an honorary member of SABC, having actively rowed for the club and represented the club throughout her Olympic career.

Generations of rowers have since aspired to follow in her footsteps, and many have honed their skills in the boat named after Dame Katherine – which was the first to take its place in the new boathouse.

St Andrew Boat Club celebrated its 175th anniversary last year – and has been going from strength to strength, with members representing Scotland and GB at junior and senior level. It currently has around 140 members, with active rowers ranging in age from 13 to 82.

SABC president Sarah Whitley said: ‘After over a decade of planning, this is a great moment in the club’s proud 175-year history.

‘The new facilities will be a game changer for us and allow us to offer many more opportunities for people to experience rowing on the Union Canal.

‘Our ambition is to build the best club in Scotland, in terms of supporting top-class performance but also giving people from all backgrounds the chance to try out rowing. The new boathouse will help us do that.’

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said: ‘We are delighted to provide investment to St Andrew Boat Club to enable them to create a boathouse that not only reflects their proud history, but also means they can build on the success of the club and offer more and better opportunities for participation.

‘Projects like this demonstrate the importance of clubs to communities, to the development of the sport of rowing, and to supporting athletes on their sporting journey, at every level.’