SITE OF THE OLD UNIVERSITY BOAT HOUSE
|University College Boat House, here:||University College Boat Club||website||OURC|
|Wolfson College Boat Club||website||OURC|
|St Peter's College Boat Club||website||OURC|
|Somerville College Boat Club||website||OURC|
|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.
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. The London river was also becoming much more polluted than ever.
Those 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: 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 buildings 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 rivers 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)
; Frost Fairs
Cannon St Rb
The Great Stink
Charing Cross Rb
Magna Carta Is
Black Potts Rb
New Thames Br
Angel on Br
Papist Way Slip
Clifton H Br
Culham Cut Fb
Head of River
Medley Weir Site
Arks Weir Site
Old Mans Fb
Radcot Cradle Fb
Radcot New Br
Radcot Old Br
Bloomers Hole Fb
St Johns Br
Castle Eaton Br