Formed in 1885, the Wellington Rowing Club has been an integral part of sport in Wellington ever since. Wellington Rowing Club’s original boathouse was a small corrugated iron shed which was located on the present site of the Wellington Free Ambulance building.

Despite its modest beginnings, the WRC was one of nine representative rowing clubs to help establish the New Zealand Amateur Rowing Association (NZARA) which was formed on 16 March 1887. The WRC is today located in the distinctive and historic Victorian style building situated by the lagoon on Taranaki St Wharf.

Built in 1894 to a design by Frederick de Jersey Clere, the building was built as a base for the Wellington Naval Artillery Volunteers, a response prompted by a Defence report in 1884 that recommended strengthening Wellington’s harbour defences to help prevent a possible Russian invasion.

The building was thankfully never used for this purpose and in 1927 the building became the first home of the Wellington Free Ambulance. After a short stay, the WFA moved into its new purpose-built home (now the WFA Apartments).

Wellington Rowing Club’s original clubhouse. The Ramshackle Shed (1912) is squeezed between Star Boating Club (right) and the old Odlins building.

Wellington Rowing Club 1932. Members celebrating the opening of their new clubhouse.

Wellington Rowing Club 1932. Members celebrating the opening of their new clubhouse.

The Wellington Rowing Club took over as custodian in 1931 and remains such to this day. In 1990, the then dilapidated clubhouse underwent a refurbishment and witnessed its second change of scenery in 100 years when the Wellington Rowing and Star Boating Club’s were relocated to their present site as part of a wider Lambton Harbour redevelopment.

The Wellington Rowing Club has a long and proud tradition both on and off the water which continues to this day. The club supports around 150 active members ranging from novice enthusiasts up to masters and premier level. The club also has a strong policy of encouraging sons and daughters of past club members to take up the sport and row at the same club their parents had in the past.

Wellington Rowing Club is one of the Capital’s iconic landmarks and from its prominent location on the bustling waterfront members can be seen plying the waters of Wellington harbour morning, noon and night.

Research by Michael Grace