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New boathouse hopes to keep Cambridge rowers ahead of Oxford rivals

By Ben Comber

Cambridge University new boathouse on the outskirts of Ely, official opening. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge University new boathouse on the outskirts of Ely, official opening. Picture: Keith Heppell

The new training facility will be the home of Cambridge University rowing on the River Great Ouse in Ely.

The new Cambridge University Boathouse was officially opened this weekend - giving the three University boat clubs a new home, the first time that the clubs have all been under the same roof.

The boathouse, on the River Great Ouse in Ely, was opened by Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, and represents the culmination of close to a decade’s work by volunteers, rowers and alumni.

Plans for a new boathouse were started in 2008, with the construction itself taking two and a half years.

The three Cambridge rowing clubs - the Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC), Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) and Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club (CULRC) - will now all train under the same roof for the first time.

“The previous facilities were not of the standard you’d expect given the calibre of athletes we’ve got,” said Ashton Brown, a PhD student in the Faculty of Education and President of the Women’s Boat Club. “This is a real step up in terms of quality - there’s a real sense of positive forward momentum now.”

Cambridge rowers have trained at Ely for the annual Boat Races against Oxford for generations, due to the narrowness and busyness of the River Cam in Cambridge, but until now they have had to make do with inadequate facilities - in the case of one of the clubs, their Ely base was essentially a shed.

The new building was designed by architect Jerry Bailey, and was financed with the assistance of more than 450 alumni and friends of the three clubs.


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