The history of John O' Gaunt Rowing Club begins in 1865 when it split from the more socially exclusive Lancaster Rowing Club (established 1842). The split had nothing to do with rowing, but was due to a scandal involving bribery at the parliamentary elections and occurred along political lines. The newly founded Lancaster Rowing Club crossed the river and built a new boathouse just below the Aqueduct, going out of business in 1932 due to a declining membership. JOG retained the original boathouse at Skerton.
JOG enjoyed initial success during its first years of independence but suffered difficult times due to the economic slumps of the 1870s. However, by the 1880s it was sufficiently prosperous to build a new two storey boathouse and during the next sixty years the membership reached a peak at 245.
Following World War Two, there began a gradual decline due to ageing membership and the boathouse falling slowly into disrepair. During the 1960s particularly, local vandals reduced the building to a shadow of its former self and the small active membership of the time decided it was necessary to raise funds for a new building. This was finally opened in 1983 exactly a century after its predecessor; an extension was later built to accommodate Lancaster Royal Grammar School's fleet.
In 2008 the committee decided to co-ordinate the expansion and improvement of the Club; this extended the work that Iain Taylor and Glenn Stevens had already started when linking to Skerton High School and applying for grant aid. A Development Plan; and active recruitment of youngsters, students and adults; raised the profile of rowing in the Lancaster district.
The new recruitment policy achieved early success when 104 people paid subscriptions during 2009, attendance broke through a 20 year ceiling, the fleet continued to expand, and Plans for the Building were commissioned.
Following two five-year cycles of development and actions following Storm Desmond, the Club stands in a strong position having had all areas of the building upgraded. Flood defence doors are ready to fit in a flood and a pump and housing have been installed. The club has a full fleet of boats with several having been donated by Newcastle University Boat Club and Agecroft Rowing Club; during flood season a number of boats are removed from site. In 2017 two stable fours were delivered to site, which improved access to rowing for the new U3A link and our existing recruitment programmes.
In 2009 British Rowing advised JOG that a Schools' Association, to mirror the Merseyside model, would further junior rowing in Lancaster. This followed the work that Amy Ward (Henley Stewards' Coach) had started with the local schools. In the early stages of the Lancaster Schools' Rowing Association registered with British Rowing; the founding partners were Lancaster John O' Gaunt Rowing Club, Lancaster and Morecambe College, Ripley St. Thomas High School, Lancaster Girls' Grammar School, Skerton Community High School, Central Lancaster High School and Loyne School.
In the first year the club's aims were to run introductory indoor rowing programmes in all the partner organisations, indoor rowing competitions between the partner organisations and introductory rowing sessions on the water. Following the departure of the Stewards' funded coaches direct links with the other partner organisations were not cemented and the organisation relied more heavily on stronger ties with Lancaster Royal Grammar School Boat Club.
Lancaster University Boat Club was first founded in 1964 using JOG’s facilities up until 1966 when they moved to the newly renovated station building at Halton.
LUBC focuses solely on competitive rowing as they operate between Im2 (4th division) and Novice (6th division) in Eights and Fours - this is largely due to the inexperience of their annual intake. A large recruitment of freshers ensures that the Club has a good financial position for the year (£210 annual fee).
Undergraduates and post-graduates, with varying coaching experience, often take up the position of Head Coach (maximum salary of £3,000 a year depending on experience and qualifications).
The Club tends to focus on the North of England Head, Head of the River Race, Women’s Head of the River, Roses (match between York and Lancaster), BUCS fixtures, Durham Regatta, Marlow Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta and Women’s Henley. Female squads have acheived particular success at BUCS and Women's Henley; the University's main target of qualifying a crew in a Henley event remains unrealised.
Lancaster Royal Grammar School Boat Club was founded in 1948. The School took over the former premises of Lancaster Rowing Club in 1950, returning as tenants to JOG in 1985 - the move onto the site was funded by £5,000 from LRGS (£2,000 from parents, £1,000 from Old Lancastrians and £2,000 from the School) for the purchase of some shared boats and an extension to the building to accomodate LRGSBC boats.
At the end of the tenency agreement (2011) LRGSBC moved their operations to Halton Army Training Camp; remaining on site would have probably meant a loss of independence or a significant increase in rent.
LRGS concentrates on rugby and cricket with around 50 boys opting to row during Wednesday and Thursday "Games". Success in rowing has been dependent on the strength of the various age groups and the availability of staff to provide extra-curricular training sessions - without these the boys would only row once per academic week.
The most successful period in the Boat Club's history was under the leadership of Tim Lucas, when LRGSBC achieved medal success in either the Schools' Head of the River Race, The National Schools Regatta or the National Rowing Championships for ten consecutive years from 1992 to 2002.
Since 2000 the School's Rowing Master was Peter Jago with Dave Yates following on. In the current era one strong year group gained particular success from 2001 to 2006; the peak of their efforts resulted in international success at the Munich International Regatta and at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in 2006. Two ex-members went on to compete as seniors in the GB squad, one of whom went on to win an Olympic Gold at the Brazil Games.
Lancaster’s second university occasionally dabbles in rowing despite not having its own rowing club! During the main season its rowers have either rowed for the University, Club or the School.
|07-08||Two 5th places in the Women’s Championship 2x and a higher placing than Lancaster in the Victor Ludorum|
|03-04||Same placing as Lancaster in the Victor Ludorum|
|02-03||Bronze Medal in the Lightweight 1x and a higher placing than Lancaster in the Victor Ludorum|