SITE OF THE OLD UNIVERSITY BOAT HOUSE
University College Boat House, here: University College Boat Club website OURC Facebook Twitter
Wolfson College Boat Club website OURC Facebook Twitter
St Peter's College Boat Club website OURC Facebook Twitter
Somerville College Boat Club website OURC Facebook Twitter
Oxford University Boat House, Wallingford: OUBC website      
[ Linacre on Boathouse Island ]:          
[ St Benet's at Falcon Rowing Club ]:          

This site, owned by University College, was leased as the site of the first Oxford University Boat Club boat house. The lease expired in 1964 and the University College took over the building. The OUBC moved to a boat house at Wallingford. When the boat house burned down in 1999 a new boathouse was built for University College.

OUBC BARGE

When the new London Bridge was completed in 1831 it changed the tidal pattern 'above bridge'. The old bridge had acted very much as a weir and when it was removed tidal currents above it became very much stronger. As a result the ceremonial rowing barges of the London Guilds became much harder to manage. At the same time steam was changing the whole feel of the river. Those two factors taken together made the Guilds think of disposing of their magnificent boats.

At the same time rowing in Oxford was ready to find a more formal structure with its own boats rather than relying, as it had up until this point, on hiring boats from private boatmen.

The Oxford University Boat club purchased the Merchant Tailors Barge, Oriel College bought the Stationers Barge, and The Skinners Barge was bought by Balliol College in 1857. It is thought that six of the college boat clubs acquired these grand and once stately vessels.


The Oxford University Barge,1855


The Oxford University Barge

Rowing from these barges still relied on boatmen bringing the boats from wherever they were kept. The oarsmen changed in dark cubbyholes deep within the barges (no showers, no toilets, no light). And the barges were not well suited to the handling of boats alongside them, nor to the storage of necessary things such as oars!

In the late 1840s the wide boats were replaced by narrow boats with outriggers - and they of course required landing stages - or their equivalent. The barges managed more or less by adding suitable staging or punts - but it was not ideal.

On the other hand the barges were splendid grandstands for watching racing and lent the river a ceremonial aspect which it has never regained since their demise.

So, reluctantly, the OUBC and the College Boat Clubs turned to boat houses, though initially these were in addition to the barges.

In 1880 the OUBC commissioned an imposing boat house from John Oldrid Scott. It was a little too imposing for most who saw the original design -


The original design of the Oxford University Boathouse by John Oldrid Scott, 1880

"Take a pen and red ink and ruthlessly cut his elevation down - The River has hitherto been secure from these monstrosities ..."

"Rowe consents to join me in putting pressure on Scott to alter the chimneys ..."

"Payne and I were desired to use our best endeavours to get some alteration in the hideous design of the building proposed by J Oldrid Scott. We did so; but with very small result."

The design was grudgingly altered to some extent -


The Oxford University Boathouse c 1890s

Ugly or not this boat house served for 118 years and is fondly remembered by generations of Oxford rowers.

Eights Week, 1938
Eights Week: From Christ Church Boat House, "Came to Oxford", Muirhead Bone, 1938 -

In 1964 OUBC's lease on the Boat House expired and University College decided to take over the building as the University College Boathouse.

In September 1999 it was completely destroyed by fire.

The OUBC decided that the Oxford reach had long been difficult for the blue boat and that a new OUBC boat house would be built at Wallingford.

A new University College Boat House was built on the site.
Belsize Architects -

The original 19th Century University College boathouse succumbed to arson in 1999. It took the College almost eight years, partly owing to difficulties related to the finding of solutions acceptable to the planners, before they organized an invited design competition to replace the former Grade II listed structure.


The new University College Boat House

Creatively, the design concept for the new Boathouse draws upon two main principles, which are directly inspired by the sport of rowing.

Firstly, the boats, the oars, the water, all exhibit unique characteristics which are manifested in the copper roof. The goal was to achieve a sort of blade cutting the sky. The roof, like the shell of an inverted boat, stretches over the entire building to provide shelter over the rowers and spectators. Strategic penetrations through it allow streams of light to filter into core areas. Keeping the roof as thin as possible and cantilevering it out from the building gives uninhibited views to all sides and directs focus to the buildingÂ’s surroundings.

Secondly, the ground level of the building had to carry a lot of mass for storage and security reasons ... In working with such mass, it seemed important to open the building up at key points to ensure that it could also provide a welcome to the public. The insertion of a void through the solid base, extending vertically right through the building, creates a space into which the landscape is allowed to enter, while exposing the activities inside to the surroundings. This atrium is an active place through which all circulation passes, and whose generosity opens up views throughout the building.

The glazed clubroom is an important extension of this space. Breaking free from the louvered first floor, it propels itself out from the main mass of the building towards the water. Flanked on two sides by the expansive terraces atop the brick lower mass, it is a privileged vantage point, giving the occupants a lively view of the river and all that is happening on and beside it.

The boathouse is a sporting facility that lifts its mass just above the ground - it is the shell of a boat, allowing water to pass beneath it while providing both shelter as well as interactive space for participation in the riverÂ’s events.

The design had to meet the practical constraints imposed by the various authorities involved and a year-long discussion took place with the local planning authority and the Environment Agency. In particular the entire site is on a flood plain, as well as providing a home for protected wetland species.

On the University College Boat Club website -

Featuring three boat bays, a maintenance workshop, club room, viewing terrace, erg room and accomodation factilities, it's size and facilities make it pre-eminent among Oxford's many boathouses.

The Saturday of Eights Week in 2007 saw the opening of the new boathouse by Colin Moynihan (1974), who coxed for University College and Oxford University, won a silver medal at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, gained a boxing Blue, later became Minister of Sport, and then Chairman of the British Olympic Association. The ceremony also marked the dedication of the Coleman Viewing Terrace by Jimmy Coleman (1963) and Jamie Coleman (1994); it is named due to their gift.

The Boathouse has been awarded a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) prize. The £2.7 million structure has enjoyed a very favourable reception in the architectural world.

 
 
(Oxford Flow - flags and river levels and Annual Chart)











Introduction
Estuary
PLA
QEII Br
Barrier
Tower Br
Custom Ho
London Br
; Frost Fairs
Cannon St Rb
The Great Stink
Southwark Br
Millenium Br
Blackfriars Rb
Blackfriars Br
Waterloo Br
Charing Cross Rb
Westminster Br
Lambeth Br
Vauxhall Br
Victoria Rb
Chelsea Br
Albert Br
Battersea Br
Battersea Rb
Wandsworth Br
Fulham Rb
Putney Br
Hammersmith Br
Barnes Rb
Chiswick Br
Kew Rb
Kew Br
RICHMOND
Twickenham Br
Richmond Rb
Richmond Br
TEDDINGTON
Kingston Rb
Kingston Br
Ditton Slip
Hampton Br
MOLESEY
SUNBURY
Walton Br
Desborough Cut
SHEPPERTON
Chertsey Br
CHERTSEY
M3 Br
Laleham Slip
PENTON HOOK
Staines Rb
Staines Br
Runnymede Br
BELL WEIR
Magna Carta Is
OLD WINDSOR
Albert Br
Datchet
Victoria Br
Black Potts Rb
ROMNEY
Eton
Windsor Br
Windsor Rb
Windsor Slip
Elizabeth Br
BOVENEY
Dorney Lake
York Cut
Summerleaze Fb
MonkeyIsland
New Thames Br
BRAY
Bray Slip
Maidenhead Rb
Maidenhead Br
Below Boulters
BOULTERS
Cliveden
Hedsor
COOKHAM
Cookham Slip
Cookham Br
BourneEnd RFb
Quarry Woods
A404 Br
MARLOW
Marlow Br
Bisham
TEMPLE
HURLEY
Medmenham
Culham Ct
Aston Slip
HAMBLEDEN
Temple Is
Fawley Ct
Remenham
Regatta
Phyllis Ct
Henley Slip
Leander
Red Lion
Henley Br
Angel on Br
Landing
Hobbs Boatyard
Hobbs Slipway
MARSH
Hennerton
Bolney
Wargrave
Shiplake Rb
R.Loddon
SHIPLAKE
Sonning Br
SONNING
Dreadnought
K&A Canal
CAVERSHAM
Reading Br
Caversham Br
Reading Slip
Purley
MAPLEDURHAM
Hardwick Ho
Whitchurch Br
WHITCHURCH
Hartswood Reach
Gatehampton Rb
Goring Gap
Goring Br
GORING
Swan
CLEEVE
Moulsford
Moulsford Rb
Papist Way Slip
Winterbrook Br
Wallingford Br
BENSON
Shillingford Br
R.Thame
DAYS
Burcot
Clifton Hampden
Clifton Church
Clifton H Br
Barley Mow
Long Wittenham
CLIFTON
Appleford Rb
Sutton Courtenay
Sutton Br
CULHAM
Culham Cut Fb
Abingdon Slip
Abingdon
Abingdon Br
ABINGDON
Nuneham Rb
Nuneham
Nuneham Park
Radley Boats
SANDFORD
Rose Island
Kennington Rb
Isis Br
Iffley Mill
IFFLEY
Oxford Rowing
Isis
Donnington Br
Riverside Slip
Boathouses
Punting
Lower Cherwell
Upper Cherwell
Islip
Head of River
Salters Steamers
Folly Br
Bacons Folly
Oxford Fb
Osney Fb
Weir stream
Osney Rb
Bullstake Stream
Osney Marina
OSNEY
Osney Br
Four Rivers
OLD RIVER
CANAL
Medley Weir Site
Medley Fb
Bossoms
Perch
Trout
GODSTOW
Godstow Nunnery
Godstow Br
Thames Br
KINGS
River Evenlode
EYNSHAM
Swinford Br
Oxford Cruisers
PINKHILL
Farmoor
Stanton Harcourt
Bablock Slip
Arks Weir Site
NORTHMOOR
Harts Fb
Rose Revived
Newbridge
Maybush
River Windrush
below Shifford
SHIFFORD
Shifford Fb
Tenfoot Fb
Trout Inn
Tadpole Br
RUSHEY
Old Mans Fb
RADCOT
Radcot Cradle Fb
Swan Inn
Radcot New Br
Radcot Old Br
GRAFTON
Eaton Hastings
Kelmscott
Eaton Fb
BUSCOT
Bloomers Hole Fb
Trout Inn
St Johns Br
ST JOHNS
Halfpenny Br
Marina Slip
LIMIT
Inglesham
Hannington Br
Kempsford
Castle Eaton Br
Marston Meysey
A419 Br
Cricklade
SOURCE?
THAMES HEAD
SEVEN SPRINGS