New boathouse gets go-ahead

Rowers are celebrating after plans for Headington School’s first ever boathouse were given the go-ahead

The Boat Club, which has developed two Olympians and 118 girls who have rowed competitively for Great Britain, has never owned its own boathouse or had direct access to the River Thames.

After years renting facilities at Godstow, the School was on Friday 7th June granted planning permission for a boathouse, wet dock and boating pontoons on a site at Maddy Moorings, Long Wittenham. The 8-acre site will provide the Boat Club with 300 metres of river frontage.

Performance Director and Head Rowing Coach Mr Ryan Demaine said: “The new facilities will give the School secure access to the River Thames on a quiet stretch of the river where crews can train over longer distances than their current site at Godstow.”

Rowing is one of Headington’s most popular extra-curricular activities, with around 140 girls who are members of the Boat Club, ranging from elite athletes who are hoping to be selected for GB trials, to those taking to the water for the first time. Since 2004, rowers have picked up 102 medals at the National Schools’ Regatta, including winning the blue riband Championship Girls’ Eights event nine times.

The School has three years to start work but it is hoped the new facilities could be delivered more quickly, once funding has been secured.

It is not proposed to increase numbers rowing at the School, however it is hoped that spare capacity will be made available to the community as part of the School’s commitment to public benefit. . Efforts have been made to ensure the plans, developed with Sprately and Partners Architects, have minimal environmental impact, with features including a grass roof, wildlife sanctuaries and wash-free launches.

Headmistress Caroline Jordan said: “Headington is known for its excellent co-curricular programme and Rowing has been one of our strengths for many years. I am delighted that, after a long search, we have finally been able to secure access to the River Thames for our own Boat Club”.