Gloucester Boathouse Development

Gloucester boat house

Gloucester Boathouse will be a new home in Gloucester for rowing, canoeing and other paddle sports, drawing participants from across Gloucestershire.

The Gloucester-Sharpness canal provides excellent and safe conditions for these sports and is a unique resource for the county and the South West. The iconic new centre will provide much needed facilities for all types of paddle-based water sports and for all sections of the Gloucestershire community on the canal not far from the City centre.

The development is fully supported by British Rowing, British Canoe Union, Sport England and Gloucester City Council.

Status update 26th February 2017

The current works will deliver:

  • A watertight building
  • 3 boat bays fitted out for storage of rowing boats and blades
  • Ground floor showers and toilets

Work remaining:

  • Connect power and water – estimated date for this is mid-March
  • Erect boat racks – volunteer labour will be required to do this during March
  • Fit out the showers and toilets – volunteer labour required for painting during March

We will make our first use of the building at next week’s Spring Head and expect the ground floor to be fully operational by the end of March. We will only achieve that if we get enough volunteers to help with racking and painting; please be ready to help when we ask.

Starting to use the facility is not the end of the story, there is still a lot of work to be done. The next phase will be to:

  • Fit entrance staircases and fire escapes and a basic fit out of level 1 so that it can be used, for example, for meetings and land training. Estimated cost £130K
  • Build and fit out the main changing rooms and toilets on level 1. Estimated cost £125K
  • Enclose the area under the balcony and fit out as the main canoe store. Estimated cost £45K

After that, there will be further work to: finish off level 1 with meeting rooms, kitchen, bar etc; create the gym on level 2; and other bits and pieces of tidying up.

Status update February 2017

The shell of the new boathouse has been completed and fitting out of the ground floor is underway. Racking will be constructed in the main boat store during February and the first operational use of the new boathouse should start in March; albeit with power from generators. Connection of water, electricity and sewage will take place over the next few months allowing us to start using the ground floor toilets and changing rooms.
The next phase of work will be to complete enough of level 1 that we have the full changing and toilet facilities and a space that can be used for meetings, land training and event catering. In addition, we will be enclosing the area under the balcony and fitting it out for canoe storage.
The estimated cost of the next phase is £300K which must be raised through grants or donations from businesses and individuals before work can start. Over the next few months we will be asking members to help identify businesses that might donate and make introductions where they can. Come and see our stand at Gloucester Head on March 5th to find out more.


The organisations currently planning to use the centre are
Gloucester Rowing Club
Gloucester Canoe Club
Hartpury College
Cheltenham Ladies College
Gloucester City Council
University of Gloucestershire

We are in discussion with a number of other potential users and if we achieve our targets we also hope to be able to extend our current work with some Gloucester area schools to offer rowing and canoeing to all Gloucestershire Schools
Gloucester Rowing Club (GRC) and Gloucester Canoe Club are open to all members of the community regardless of age or ability.
GRC offers both competitive and recreational rowing, the latter supporting Government initiatives to encourage more people to take regular exercise.

Rowing and Canoeing for those with disabilities

The Rowing Club's current facility is not suited to those with disabilities but a limited range of Adaptive Rowing (rowing for the disabled) is offered. The new boathouse will offer the full range of adaptive facilities for rowing and canoeing; British Rowing has designated it to be the Adaptive Rowing Centre for the Wiltshire, Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset region.

History, Finance, Project Management and Sustainability

The boathouse project was started by GRC. With support from British Rowing, Gloucester City Council, Gloucestershire Playing Fields Association and local businesses, £200,000 was raised to:

purchase a site for the new boathouse in a corner of the Gloucester City market site at Hempsted Meadows,
gain planning permission for the whole development and
build a landing stage which has made the site usable for one-off events e.g. regattas.

The new site is now used regularly by Gloucester Canoe Club, Cheltenham Ladies College and Cheltenham College (for both rowing and canoeing) and visiting rowing and canoe clubs from across the South West.

A new company, Gloucester Boathouse Ltd (GBL), was established in 2012 to take the project forward i.e. to build and run the new facility; GBL is a registered Charity.

Grants from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust and British Rowing and donation of a small parcel of land by Gloucester City Council have enabled the completion in early 2015 of necessary flood compensation, ground works (including piling for the new building), ramp to the towpath and landing stage and to build car parking spaces. This work cost about £310,000.

Grants from the Sport England Improvement Fund, the Summerfield Trust and the British Canoe Union, investments from Gloucester Rowing Club, Cheltenham Ladies College and Hartpury College together with other donations and receipts from fund raising activities have allowed us to undertake the main boathouse build which will cost about £980,000.

We are now embarking on a fund-raising campaign to raise the £300K needed to make the building usable as a replacement for the old boathouse which will be relinquished in 2019. Beyond that, further fund raising will still be needed to complete the new boathouse.

Local business support

It would not have been possible to get so far with the boathouse development without the generosity of individuals and businesses making donations of money, time and materials. A full list of donors can be found on the Roll of Honour. Our biggest local business supporters to date have been:

Markey Group
Keyway Ltd
Mark Brazil
RSL Highways and Transportation
5 Consulting
James Hartley
Robert Limbrick
Harrison Clark Rickerbys
Allstone Sand and Gravel

We are also grateful to the Canal & River Trust (and its predecessors) for granting permission to build the landing stage and to cross their land to access it.


The new facility will not only be a home for the clubs mentioned above, but will enable us to reach out to a wider range of potential participants. We anticipate offering opportunities to try our sports to a range of community groups e.g. Scouts, youth clubs etc. We will also engage with the local health and educational authorities to identify how we can use our facilities to benefit the disadvantaged.

GRC currently makes provision for reducing or waiving subscriptions for those who cannot afford them; we intend to extend this provision, probably by establishing a bursary scheme managed by Gloucester Boathouse Limited.

In conclusion, we have an exciting opportunity to provide a new facility for the people of Gloucestershire, regardless of age or ability, to participate in rowing, canoeing and other paddle sports.

Stephen Rose
Gloucester Boathouse Ltd