Monthly Archives: March 2016

Access to Water

On March 10th contractors arrived to start work on the first phase of the extension of the club’s landing stage. The Access to Water project is a major undertaking that will continue throughout 2016.

Following a protracted planning process involving extensive negotiations with the planning authority and other bodies including the Environment Agency (EA) final consent was granted by Durham County Council early in March, allowing the project to go ahead.

The river banks will be strengthened and the landing stages extended upstream to meet with Clive’s and downstream to our boundary with the Racecourse. The end result will secure our site against erosion for the future and give us approximately 175 metres of landing stage, with three entry / exit points allowing for clear circulation, more space and increased throughput on regatta days.

It has been determined that the project will be divided into 3 phases, a proposal to which the contractor has agreed.

Phase 1 involves the upstream section, which it has been decided to carry out first as it represents the biggest return on investment and will provide positive impact for more people, including Durham Regatta which has agreed to provide part of the funding. Work should be ongoing for 3 or 4 weeks. One of our Off Peak members has volunteered to devise the required landscaping scheme.

Phase 2 is to repair and replace the central landing stage with a wider one to provide more space at the base of the steps. The concrete has become a Health & Safety issue and requires attention. The wooden landing is a comparatively small job and, as it does not involve working in the river, does not require EA consent. The target for this is summer 2016.

Phase 3 is the re-alignment of the sculling ramp to make it safer for wheelchair users, rebuilding the bank and extending the landing stage downstream by 50m. While this does in theory represent the most urgent job as the bank has already collapsed twice during floods, it does not provide substantial benefit for members other than some extra landing and securing the bank. The EA has given consent for this work to be carried out during the summer months as the river bed is already disturbed here and does not face the same restrictions for works consent.

Part of the funding for the project is to be met from club reserves. This will be supported by funds secured through ongoing grant applications and those already secured during the planning phase. Durham Regatta has agreed to bear part of the cost of phase 1. The cost of repairing the section of landing damaged as a result of winter storms will be met by the Sport England Flood Relief Fund.

Celebrating the greatest ever north-east sportsman

Last year a hugely successful play about Harry Clasper called Hadaway Harry toured Tyneside. Written by Ed Waugh, starring Jamie Brown and directed by Russell Floyd, the show received standing ovations and will transfer to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal in February 2017.

Robson Green’s new ITV series Further Tales of Northumberland will feature a segment about Harry Clasper on Monday, April 4, at 8pm. The show gets around 4 million viewers nationally

Ed Waugh said: “Last year BBC’s Inside Out did a fantastic feature on Harry and to have Robson Green pick up on the story is brilliant.

“This region has produced fantastic singers, songwriters and sportspeople who have been forgotten because history is only taught about the privileged classes and kings and queens.”

He added: “Harry Clasper is just the first in a series that we will highlight on stage to remember the people who shaped Geordie and North East culture. Our real heritage!”

A new website has also been launched to celebrate Harry Clasper, the Geordie rower who led a team from Tyneside to win the World Championship in 1845 and whose training methods and boat innovations put the North East at the centre of the aquatics world for the next 25 years.

Dunston-born and Jarrow raised, Harry “Hadaway” Clasper was the first North East sporting superstar; the man the Blaydon Races was written for in 1862. More than 130,000 people attended his funeral after he died in the Ouseburn pub he ran in Newcastle in 1870,  aged 57.

Before football, rowing (aquatics) was the sport of the working class. Local heroes were created on the major rivers and the top rowers were lauded in the manner that football stars are today. The Tyne boasted team and individual sculling champions trained by Harry.

Harry, a former miner, trained and led a team of Geordies to bring the coveted World Rowing Championship to the Tyne for the first time. Taking the title from the “unbeatable” London rowers on the Thames, the victory caused a sensation locally, nationally and internationally.

The website – www.harryclasper.co.ukwas designed by Sophie Teasdale and Richard Flood of Von Fox Promotions.

Richard Flood said: “The region can proudly boast sporting greats and world champions but Harry Clasper was arguably the greatest of them all. Sadly, he’s a forgotten hero but hopefully this website will help inform people and there may be people with information about Harry that we can share.”

Tideway Heads 2016

March sees the culmination of the Heads season with the University Boat Races this year scheduled for Easter Sunday. Before that the Tideway welcomes rowers from across the UK and around the world whose season reaches its climax with one of the other annual Tideway Heads for Eights.

All of the above take place on the same 6.8km tidal reach of the River Thames in London between Mortlake and Putney, in the reverse direction to the University Boat Races.

The Junior Girls 8+ represented the club at the Women’s Head in London on March 5th, finishing 73rd in a field of almost 300 crews of all ages, in a time of 21 mins 22 secs.

Rowing in Jessica Eddie they finished 11th in their category (School/Junior), a fantastic result, holding off all of the Durham University college crews as well as Yarm School, and finishing only 15 seconds behind the Durham University 2nd Eight.

Crew member Olivia Brown tells the story of the day

On the 5th of March the junior girls eight made up of Ellen Blowey, Georgia Macmillan, Sarah Coleman, Charlotte Jackson, Hope Cessford, Corrine Hatton, Olivia Brown and Hannah Iqbal, along with cox Rebecca Jackson, travelled down to London to compete in our first women’s head although having raced on several occasions at Schools Head we’re no strangers to the Tideway. After a worrying 15 minutes of downpour the conditions brightened and we had a great row managing to finish an impressive 74th massively improving from our 234th starting place, with a time not far off our local rivals Durham University. Overall it was a great experience. We would all like to thank Fred, Gordon and Vicky for their coaching and support, not to mention Mark who entertained everybody with his plane spotting. It was a great days rowing with a great result.

Full results of WEHoRR

DARC’s Masters G (age 65-69) men’s 8+ took part in the Veterans’ Head on March 20th, finishing 68th overall out of over 200 crews, and 4th in their category, in an age-adjusted time of 18 min 39.8 sec (unadjusted time 20.49.8), only 41 seconds behind the winning Masters G crew from Quintin BC

Full results of Veterans’ Head

(Photo credit Clive Harlow)

On Easter Saturday we host the annual Boat Race Ball.

Hope invited to GB Spring Assessment

As well as competing in this year’s Women’s Eights Head of the River Race DARC’s Hope Cessford continues her excellent progress on the pathway towards GB Junior team selection, after the February assessment at Boston being one of only 10 female sweep rowers in the country invited to the GB Spring Assessment at Nottingham. Selection at this stage is by invitation only and is a great achievement.

We wish her every success.

Further landslip at Pelaw Wood

There has been an additional landslip on the Pelaw Wood site which is due to the natural steepness of the slope. Durham County Council are currently working to stabilise the ground and are carrying out further investigations and analysis of the situation, to allow them to continue to work safely on some areas of the slope. They also have specialist geotechnical engineers on site during site works to provide the best possible advice.

Tree felling has been taking place and an area of the river has been buoyed off while there is instability and risk of slippage.

There will unavoidably be some delay to the completion of the works and reopening of the path below.

See the project webpage for background to the project. Further updates will be issued when there is more information.