THE MOLESEY ROW
Please view the video of the beautiful 4km stretch of Thames our rowers get to enjoy all year round.
Molesey Boat Club was founded in April 1866 by a group of local ‘gentlemen’. Little is known about the early years of the Club but it is clear to us now that there was a basic wooden clubhouse with changing facilities built on Ash Island and the boats were stored in rented space in a boathouse on the mainland opposite.
In 1875 the club VIII came second to Leander in the final of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta with First Trinity in third place (three abreast rowing in those days). The Club’s first Henley success was in the Thames Challenge Cup VIII in 1891. Half this VIII won the Wyfold Challenge Cup for fours in 1892 and again in 1893.
In 1901 the new boat house was constructed on the site it occupies today. It was originally called the Milner Memorial Boathouse in memory of James Milner who did much of the work to get it built.
The building was originally rented but in 1953 we purchased the freehold from the Kent family, local landowners. It has been substantially added to over the years: the original two boat bays have been increased to six and a men’s shower block and kitchen were added in the 1970s. In 1955 the clubhouse was connected to mains electricity and in 1973 to mains drainage. A substantial extension was built in 2003 with the help of a Lottery grant and in 2016 a new rowing centre was built at the rear which contains a large gym and rowing tank.
In 1959 the MBC coxless IV won the Wyfold Challenge Cup at Henley – each of the five heats was won with the verdict “easily,” that is by more than four lengths. This was MBC’s first Henley win since 1893.
The senior coxless IV event at Henley is the Steward’s Challenge Cup. In 1958 it was won by Barns Cottage Boat Club. In 1960 Barn Cottage came to Molesey to combine and train together. They were joined by Chris Davidge and John Russell. Davidge was regarded as the leading stroke man of his generation. In 1960, rowing as Molesey BC, this combination won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley, as well as the Steward’s, racing as Barn Cottage – the other half of the VIII rowing as MBC lost Easily having hit the booms and broken Bow’s oar. At the time Henley RR did not allow a club to enter A and B crews in an event, but it was possible to race for two clubs at the same Regatta. These two crews went to the 1960 Rome Olympics as coxed and coxless IVs. John Russell went to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and won a silver medal in the coxless fours. This was the first Olympic medal won by a club member.
With some crew alterations Molesey continued its winning period at Henley and international representation through to 1964.
There was then a quiet period until Molesey again won the Wyfold Cup in 1978 and 1984. Future club captain Richard Stanhope was in the silver medal winning eight at the Montreal Olympics in 1980.
In 1984 and again in 1985 Ewan Pearson and CD Riches won the Silver Goblets at Henley for the Club, for coxless pairs (the event dominated by Steve Redgrave and partners throughout the late 80s and 90s). Thereafter Molesey members were winning at Henley and international honours virtually every year.
In recent years the Club has become a Centre of Excellence for British Rowing so we train young rowers who are on the verge of international selection. As a result MBC members have won several Olympic medals over the last few years.
In 1992, with a storming finish former Hampton schoolboys Jonnie and Greg Searle with cox Gary Herbert won the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics in the coxed pair.
In the early 2000s Andy Triggs-Hodge joined the club as a promising newcomer and went on to become one of the greatest rowers in British rowing history. He won golds at Beijing (in the 4-), London (In the 4-) and Rio (in the VIII). Another club member Tom James also won golds with Andy in the 4- at Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. Also George Nash won a bronze at London in the coxless pair and a gold in the four at Rio. Finally James Foad won a bronze in the eight at London. Of course in addition to the Olympic medals these rowers won numerous world championship and Henley medals.
Another prominent Club member is Mohammed Sbihi who is a local boy. Moe was recruited to rowing as part of British Rowing’s World Class Start programme and he quickly established himself as one of the premier rowers in the world and went onto win a gold medal at the Rio Olympics with bronzes at London and Tokyo.
In total the club put seven rowers into the London Olympics which is no mean achievement for a provincial club outside London.
Finally, in 2021 Ollie Stanhope won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the PR3 4+. Ollie is of course the aforementioned Richard Stanhope’s son.
The club continues to strive for success at international, club, junior and masters level, in an increasingly competitive environment.