Yare Boat Club New Boathouse

Broadland District Council recently awarded Yare Boat Club in Thorpe St Andrew £15,000 from their new Community Grant Scheme to help transform their old boat house into a new club house. The money will help convert the drafty brick and block building into a warm and welcoming social and training space, complete with changing facilities and kitchen.

Club Captain Piers Herrmann said: “This grant will help us to attract a more diverse group of members and give our current members a place to socialise, train and get changed in comfort.”

Broadland District Council’s Cabinet Member, Cllr Natasha Harpley, said: “This friendly and welcoming club has been in existence since 1911 and continues to thrive today with around 90 members, some of which are in their 80s. “Having good quality sports facilities will help the club reach its goals by encouraging younger people from a diverse range of backgrounds to give rowing a go.”

Members of the Club will be doing the majority of the building work themselves, something they are rather familiar with after recently building a new boathouse.  In 2021, the Club merged with a nearby rowing club and the existing boathouse was not big enough to accommodate all the various vessels. 

“While boats are waterproof, they can’t be stored outside because exposure to the sun deteriorates them,” explains Piers, “so we knew straight away we were going to have to try and build a new boathouse.”

Without labour, the new boathouse was estimated at £130,000. The Club had £50,000 put by and were successful in applying to the Greater Norwich Growth Board, which Broadland Council is a part of, for the remaining £80,000. Despite very little building experience, several members of the Club decided to take on the epic task of building the boathouse themselves. 

Former teacher and Club Secretary, Arthur Wilkinson, said: “We’d never done anything like it before, so we had to learn new skills quickly. Fortunately, one of our members is a carpenter and he was able to lead on the practical side of the build.The trickiest part was getting the materials to site,” reveals Piers. “The cladding, pilling, framework and timber all had to be carried across to the island along a small pontoon by hand.” Luckily, they had an army of volunteers from the Club to help. 

The boathouse was completed and in use by February 2023 and officially opened by single scull Olympic medallist Alan Campbell.

Arthur said: “It makes us proud when people tell us what an incredible job we’ve done and we are glad that we will be able to leave the place in better shape than we found it.”

The Club hopes to have the old boathouse converted by the Autumn.

The Community Grant scheme is available to groups looking for funding from £1,000-£15,000, to support projects that benefit the local community. For more information on our Community Grants Scheme, please visit Community Grant Scheme – Broadland and South Norfolk (southnorfolkandbroadland.gov.uk)