Calcutta Rowing Club - Heritage Clubs
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06-11-2019    88 times
Calcutta Rowing Club

Considered as the oldest rowing club outside the United Kingdom, the Calcutta Rowing Club was founded by a few spirited oarsmen, along the bank of River Hooghly in 1858. As the major portion of the European community was not very much enthusiastic about it, the club started modestly with a thatched roof boathouse near the Chandpal Ghat standing along the river and continued to function from the same shabby place until 1864, when a catastrophic cyclone swept away the boat house, along with the boats and the other belongings in the boathouse, including all the records of the club. Somehow, as if by miracle, only the accounts of 1858-59, signed by John Cowle, the then Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the club, escaped the wrath of the disastrous cyclone. Following the aftermath of the disaster, the thatched boathouse was shifted near Fort Point in 1865.

Calcutta Rowing Club

During those early days, all the boats owned by the club were equipped with fixed seats and in all probability in 1872, a person named Charles Newman, supposed to be a member of the club, came back from England with a sculling boat fitted with sliding seats, which is a definite improvement to maneuver the boat in an easier way against the odds. However, due to the increased operations of steam ferry boats and tugs on the river, rowing was gradually becoming more and more difficult and life-threatening Apart from that, the Army authority posted in the Fort also objected about rowing in the river, as it would interfere with their field of fire, in case an enemy fleet sails up the Hooghly River. As a result, the club had to abandon its boathouse at Fort Point and shifted to the canal in Eden Gardens, which was not at all sufficient to be used as a proper rowing course.

In view of the above circumstances, the Port Commissioner appeared on the scene as a saver and offered a course to the club on the Dock Basin at Kidderpore, which is at present occupied by the Coal Dock. As the Club got the unexpected opportunity of an almost straight 3/4 mile course that would allow three crews racing side by side without any restraint, they built a new boathouse at the new site. The members started to use the opportunity with a new spirit and won the much coveted event at Poona in 1899, which they missed in 1877.

Calcutta Rowing Club

The CRC got the affiliation from the Amateur Rowing Association in 1901 and in 1902, a new event, known as Class Fours’ was introduced in rowing, which later gave birth to the present ‘Merchants Cup Regatta’ in 1926. In the same year, a Four was sent to Madras and the members of the team won the Fours, Pairs and Sculls.

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In the mean time, in 1906, the Port Commissioners office urgently needed the Dock Basin for construction of additional buildings, coal dock, and etc. As a result, CRC was displaced again and was moved to the boat canal near the Majerhat Bridge in 1907. However, that was not the end of their story of shifting. They were finally shifted to the newly excavated Dhakuria Lakes in 1928, which was subsequently renamed as Rabindra Sarobar. By 1929, when the excavation of the main part of the Lake was completed, a full 1,000 yard course became available to the Calcutta Rowing Club

Calcutta Rowing Club

In the year 1923, CRC for the first time participated and won a rowing competition in Rangoon and immediately after that, got affiliation from the London Rowing Club in 1926. Eventually, the Amateur Rowing Association of East was formed in 1933 and annual rowing competition called Head of the Lake Regatta began against the newly formed Lake Club. The centenary year of the club was celebrated in a magnificent manner with the win of the coveted Willingdon Trophy in the silver jubilee regatta of the Amateur Rowing Association of the East (ARAE).

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Apart from hosting the ARAE in 1961, CRC won the Willingdon Trophy again, along with the Hooghly Cup and Venables Bowl. Subsequently, CRC took the lead to popularize rowing in the city of Calcutta and forming the Rowing Federation of India in 1976. The first National Rowing Championship was organized by the West Bengal Rowing Association in 1977.

Calcutta Rowing Club

There is a swimming pool in the campus of the Calcutta Rowing Club, available for members and guests, from April to September, with coaching facility. Apart from that, CRC is equipped with a modern Health club and offers various sports facilities for its members, which include Badminton, Table Tennis, Billiards and Snooker. With bars and four distinct banquet halls, CRC is properly equipped to host wedding or birthday parties, seminars, meetings, social get together and more.

Calcutta Rowing Club
softetechnologies
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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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