Putney Town Rowing Club (“The Town”) – A History

Post-war roots

After World War 1, several young Putney Town boy’s, who had previously been Sons of the Thames members, and did not like travelling to Hammersmith started to row from “Bossy” Phelps boathouse in Putney.
The members needed a club name and a base to enable them to race. This led them to invited to form a rowing a rowing section at St Mary’s recreation club in Felsham Road, which became known as St Mary’s R.C.

It consisted mainly of waterside families, such as Cordery’s, Gibsons, Greens, Phelps and later the Cobbs.

The oarsman had to race in regattas under the old Tradesman’s Rowing Clubs Association, being unable to row in the then Amateur events e.g. Henley Royal Regatta, Marlow etc, as Tradesman’s rowing clubs were deemed to have a advantage due to the manual nature of their work. This rule was abandoned in 1956 and “The Town” were the first Tradesman club to reach a Henley final in 1957/1958.

Following very successful years in 1920 / 1921, an AGM was called in the Half Moon Hotel in Putney on 29th January 1922 to discuss the possibilities of forming a more independent rowing club. Born out of this meeting was the new name Putney Town Rowing Club, with it’s first captain being Harry Phelps. His brother Ted, a Putney Town member later became world Professional Champion Sculler (The club still has his sculls).

The Dukes Head and move to Mortlake in 1986

Soon after the club moved to the small boathouse underneath the Dukes Head Hotel, Putney. This was our headquarters until 1986, when unable to expand at Putney the club took up the offer of an empty boathouse at Mortlake. With the extra space and facilities the club was able to open it’s doors to women and junior members for the first time, resulting in greater successes to the club, including two consecutive wins at Women’s Henley Regatta.

Rebuilding the club after fire

In 1992 a devastating fire destroy the clubhouse along with all of it’s boats and equipment. But out of the ashes the club was reborn! With the help of lottery funding we now have one of the newest purpose built clubhouses on the river and back up to strength with a fleet of boats.

The club retains a friendly and social atmosphere and is open to complete beginners, occasional and serious senior rowers and scullers.