A Brief History of Marlow Rowing Club

Marlow Rowing Club is one of the biggest clubs on the upper reaches of the River Thames, using the Marlow and Cookham Reaches for training and competition under Winter Hill and Bisham Hanging Woods. Its clubhouse is next to the town's historic suspension bridge over the Thames and the famous Compleat Angler Hotel.

The Club competed from about 1810 and raced at regattas in the Thames Valley and at Henley but was formally founded at a dinner held at the Marlow Town football club in 1871, crews had been competing under the Marlow Rowing Club name for many years prior to the official founding of the Club. The Club's history reflects many of the changes in English society. It was affected by the Victorian schism between amateur and working men and professional sportsmen. Marlow Rowing Club is an amateur club and many regattas inserted amateur into their title such as the famous Marlow Amateur Regatta founded in 1855. The official definition of an Amateur was finally produced by the Henley Royal Regatta Stewards in 1874. It referred to gentleman pursuing a pastime and not racing for money as was prevalent at that time and no artisans (ie working class and manual labourers) were allowed to compete as an amateur! A tankard from Marlow Regatta 1855 resides behind the club bar which was won for coxed fours with both Wethereds brothers are engraved on it. They later became officers of the club. Marlow Amateur Regatta has only recently dropped Amateur from its name.

The Club’s first major win following its “official” formation was at Henley Royal Regatta in 1872 when it won the Town Challenge Cup for Fours. The Club won it four further times consecutively between 1874 and 1877 and on the last occasion the competition was raced in 1883. In the late Victorian period, prominent local families such as the Boytons, Claytons, Higginsons and Wethereds supported the Club and attracted friends from the universities and London to row on the Marlow and Cookham Reaches. They were very successful in competition although 5 members of the major trophy winning crew of 1913/14 became casualties in the First World War.

From a social beginning, a competitive club sprang up and became locked in friendly rivalry with other local clubs, rowing up and downstream to their regattas, or loading boats on coal-lorries to take part in Tideway events. Marlow first competed in the Head of the River Race in 1932, starting 67th out of 131. Since 1945 Marlow Rowing Club has been shaped by a number of able coaches, and highly motivated club and international athletes who have helped to change the expectations of the Club. Bill Findlay, Bryn Evans, Alan Clay and Roy Light came close to winning the Wyfold Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, beaten in the final in 1954 by the Royal Engineers. Often working from a narrow base of local athletes, coaches like O. H. Collins, Bill Hobbs, Lesley Langton, Derek Mays-Smith, Mike Spracklen, John Pilgrim Morris, Francis Smith, who discovered and coached Steve Redgrave, produced good, well-organised crews.

Contribution to International Rowing

Mike Spracklen, the internationally renowned coach, captained the club in its successful 1959 season, when it won over 20 trophies. In the previous year Mike and his partner Geoff Baker won gold medals in the Empire Games Double Sculls. In 1964, Marlow finished tenth in the Head of the River Race, thirty seconds behind the winners. At the end of a successful season in small boats, the Club won the 1964 Daily Telegraph Cup at Maidenhead Regatta in a closely contested final. In the 1960s and 1970s the Club was small in numbers compared to today.

However club spirit was strong and a series of excellent crews were produced from a small squad of local athletes, competing successfully around the country, and in particular at Marlow Amateur Regatta, winning the Town Cup and Pairs against first class opposition. Neil Christie and Andrew Justice rowed in the 1976 Olympic Games.

A local junior, Steve Redgrave, began his outstanding career at Marlow in 1978. Coached by Francis Smith, Redgrave formed the nucleus of a crew that further helped to change the Club's expectations.

The Club won its next Henley trophy in 1981, when Steve and Eric Sims won the Double Sculls, and he repeated the feat with Adam Clift in 1982. Redgrave continued this successful run, winning the Diamonds Sculls in 1983, the Prince Philip in the winning Olympic Coxed Four in 1984, the Diamonds again in 1985, and holding the Silver Goblets with Andy Holmes in 1986 and 1987. In all he has won 21 Henley medals, the last one in the Queen Mother Cup in 2001, twelve World Championship Medals, 9 Gold, 2 silver and 2 Bronze, 3 World Cup Golds and 3 Commonwealth Games Gold medals. His Olympic record is second to none with 5 Gold medals and 1 Bronze medal, the fifth Gold being achieved in the coxless fours at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Steve and his wife, Ann (Marlow Rowing Club's first woman club captain) live in Marlow with their children. He is a life member of Marlow Rowing Club, along with Matthew Pinsent.

Marlow Rowing Club’s contribution to international rowing has been immense particularly over the last 30 years. It has produced winning athletes at all levels both men and women at senior, junior and veteran (now called Masters). It has not only produced probably the greatest oarsman of all time but also many other winning internationals and coaches not least of which was Mike Spracklen who coached Steve Redgrave to his first two Olympic Gold medals. He then went on to coach the US and Canadian national squads winning World and Olympic gold medals.  

Other international successes continued. Gillian Lindsay won the Double Sculls World Championship in 1998. Alex Beever, Lisa Eyre and Sue Walker were World Champions in the Coxless Four in 1997, and were Bronze Medallists in the Eight in the same year. Cath Bishop, was the British and World Ergo Champion and World Record holder, and a World Silver Medallist in the Coxless Pair in 1997, and won the Pairs World Cup in 1998. Altogether, twelve athletes from Marlow Rowing Club prepared for the 2000 Sydney Olympics where Gillian Lindsay and Katherine Grainger won Britain’s first ever Olympic Women’s Rowing medal in the silver medal winning eight. Cath Bishop and Katherine Grainger then won silver in the pair at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

In total Katherine Grainger (originally from St Andrew’s Boat Club) has won five Olympic medals and is Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian. Zac Purchase has an Olympic Gold and Silver medals in the lightweight double sculls and four World gold medals. Naomi Riches has Gold and Bronze Paralympic medals from London and Beijing to accompany her haul of five World Golds.

January 2018

with thanks to Chris Lenton.



MRC clubhouse

Marlow Rowing Club has a long and distinguished history dating back to its foundation in 1871. With a state-of-the art clubhouse that opened in 2015, a large and well-maintained fleet, and a spacious well-equipped gym, the club is now home to more than 500 members. We are very proud that amongst our members we have many Olympians including Sir Steve Redgrave (our President) and Dame Katherine Grainger.

The last two sessions for issuing key fobs will be:

  • Tuesday (25th Nov) 1830 - 2000
  • Saturday (29th Nov) 1000 - 1345

Club Kit.

We currently have a range of items available from stock or to order.

Items carried in stock are all in ones, base layers, splash jackets, caps and visors, beanies, track pants, club ties, bow ties, blazer buttons and rigger-jiggers(spanner for using on boat rigging) plus various clearance items - please email for details or refer to order form below.

Items available to order from Playerlayer are hoodies and a 1/4 zip mid layer. These can be ordered for delivery direct to yourself from their Marlow RC club site, please use this link. Stocks are limited.


We will add a new order form link below and will also keep a supply at the club (on the notice boards) for ordering the stocked items. Please fill in your requirements and either scan and email to me or leave pinned to the notice board for my attention - Malcolm/clothing

Going forward, we are researching various options for new kit including Hi Viz options which we hope to be able to give more news on shortly. 




To order any of these items please fill in an Order Form (on top of the filing cabinets) and either email to clothing@marlowrowingclub.org.uk or pin on the notice board addressed to Malcolm/Clothing.

I will confirm for you that we have the items available and the price. Payment can be made by cheque payable to Marlow RC or cash. You can leave this in an envelope addressed to Malcolm/Clothing on the notice board or ‘post’ it into locker one (between the frame and door) please ensure you include your name on the envelope.


The kit will then be bagged up for you, with your name on. I will confirm when this has been done so that you can collect it from the tray on top of the filing cabinets By the entrance to the gym.


Hoodie, shorts and mid layers are black with club logos. Sweat pants are grey. We have limited stocks of these but they are also available on the supplier’s website. Please use the link below, select the item you want, pay for your order and this will then be delivered direct to your own home.  http://playerlayer.com/account/marlow-rowing-club.html


We also have items of Playerlayer stock ‘pink’ stock left to clear, please ask for details if you are interested




Order Form





Contact telephone number


Contact email address



All in One

X Small




X Large

Boys - £65


Girls - £65


These are from JL and are burgundy with a white strip. £65.00


X Small




X Large

Unisex - £49


Leggings are from JL and are black with a burgundy stripe down the leg. £49.00


Splash top

X Small




X Large

Unisex - £87


Splash Tops are from Crewroom and are black with a burgundy stripe down the arm. £87.00


Base layer






Ladies £35.


Base layer

X Small




X Large

Mens £35


Base layer is from New Wave and is white with MARLOW on the sleeve



Please indicate boy/girl

Hoodie £30

Mid layer £35.50

Sweat Pants


Shorts (boys only)























Hoodie, shorts and mid layers are black with club logos. Sweat pants are grey.



Ladies AIO

 Mens AIO


Ladies Splash Jacket


Mens Splash Jacket



Any questions, speak to Malcolm Roels (clothing@marlowrowingclub.org.uk Twitter:  )

Clothing information and policy: 

A message to Members from the Captain:

I am pleased to report that we will be able to take the next step in the move back on to the club site this coming weekend.  We will need plenty of bodies to help with this on Saturday morning, so please come along after your outing or lie-in (and/or coffee!), and please bring some spanners, screwdrivers etc.


Club and Bar Hire Section Description