A new, more practical gateway at the entrance to Leander Club was officially unveiled yesterday (Sunday) by Sir Steve Redgrave.
The new gateway was one of the major projects for the club’s bicentenary year and was funded by members’ donations in memory of influential coach Derek Drury and the Gateway 200 project which saw 200 members donate £200 each.
The original gateway was built in the 1930s and was half the width of the new one. As well as being more practical for ease of access with boats, the design of the gateway is more in keeping with the rest of the prestigious clubhouse as athletes, members and guests approach. The new entrance has two gates adorned with the Leander Club shield and two rowing oars engraved with the years 1818 and 2018. The adjoining wall has been renovated too and a commemorative plaque installed that Sir Steve unveiled.
Leander Club President, Jeremy Randall “Rass” said, “Thank you to you all for being such loyal members. We could not have done this project without your generosity. Of course as with everything at Leander everything you touch falls apart in your hands and when we did the new entrance we were told some of the sections of the wall had to be replaced too so those of you who have done the maths and think we dined out on the extras, I assure we have had to subsidise it out of our funds to the tune of about £10,000. It has been well worth it and we now have the fashionable term of a legacy project. The legacy of our bicentenary will be this entrance. The other one was inadequate – it was too narrow and also badly cracked so we now have one that we hope will do another 200 years.”
“Thank you to Sir Steve for coming today. Steve surely is the face of Leander. We shall never forget Steve’s origins at Marlow and neither will they and especially for all the things he has done here and for someone who has won five Olympic gold medals – he is the right person to open this structure.”
Sir Steve said, “It is honour to be here. I thought the honour that I was bestowed upon me was giving me a sledge hammer to knock it down in the first place. I think we could have done a little bit of a cheaper job if you had got a number of rowers involved. Raz talked about cracks, there were also thick chunks taken out of the brickwork. It was always very difficult getting the boats in and out of the club to the trailers in the car park. I have done quite a lot of single sculling and trying to get a single scull with its riggers on through the old gates and the wind catching the bow – some of that brickwork damage was my single sculling boat! Now that I don’t train very often or if it all, I’m really pleased that the gate is a little bigger than it was. On the water, the club goes from strength to strength. The club has still got very big ambitions within the sport. All the celebrations this year, not just in this country but around the world have just been tremendous. The whole rowing world knows Leander and knows what it stands for and what it is doing for the sport.”
Rass will be joined by Olympic silver-medallist Vicky Thornley at the Henley Literary Festival tomorrow (Tuesday) to talk about the past, present and future with Robert Treharne Jones, Olympic commentator and rowing historian and afterwards members of the audience can purchase the Leander Club The First 200 Years book.