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Armistice Centenary Lunch on 7th November 2018

While there have been two previous articles about this event, one on the website and the other in the May edition of London Roar, we would like to draw your further attention to what is going to be a most memorable and moving occasion to mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War and to honour those members of the Club who died fighting for the Country. Of the 194 members who fought, 50 died - more than 25% of them. The impact of the War on those people’s families and friends and on the lives of the others who fought but survived and their families and friends must have been enormous and lasted for years.

Demand for tickets is proving to be high. So far, there have been requests from more than forty people to reserve places. If you have not yet registered your interest in coming, please will you send an email to Miles Preston (one of the members of the sub-committee that has been working on the lunch and producing a booklet summarising the lives, including rowing careers, of the fifty who were lost). Miles’s email address is

The booklet will be a very fitting record of the fifty who lost their lives. We have been able to find photographs of over three quarters of these members, along with colour photographs of headstones in War cemeteries and names on memorials. Everyone attending the Lunch on the 7th November will be given a copy of the booklet.

The event will consist of a short service (approximately fifteen minutes) at 12.30 pm in the Fairbairn Room followed by drinks and a three course meal in the Long Room. The new vicar of St. Mary’s , Putney, the Reverend John Whittaker, will conduct the Service and a World War 1 authority, Ruaraidh Adams-Cairns, will be giving us a talk for fifteen to twenty minutes towards  the end of the meal about the War and a few of the members who died. Tickets will cost £50 a head.

On the 31st August, we shall be sending emails to everyone who has, by then, indicated a wish to come to the lunch. Attached to the email will be a booking form. You should complete and return your booking form and pay for your ticket(s) as soon as possible. Each member coming may buy tickets for up to three guests. 

A week later, on the 7th September, we shall be emailing the rest of the Club inviting attendance at the lunch on a first come, first served basis. We very much hope that you will come to what we believe will be an historic occasion in the Club’s life. This is an event for all members. 

2nd Baron Ampthill, President of LRC during the First World War

Amiens in August 1918 – major turning point in the War


Memorial Service for Rob van Mesdag

Rob van Mesdag died on 18 July 2018 thus ending a full and colourful life that brought joy and laughter to those who had the good fortune to know him.  His Memorial Service will take place at All Saints Chuch, Fulham at 1.30 pm on Wednesday 3 October 2018 followed by a Reception at Hurlingham Club.  All are welcome.  Here is Iain Laurenson's tribute.

This is my version of Rob’s history. An eventful life and a mobile one. Ask a club member what was Rob doing on such and such a year and they scratch their heads and say, ‘Well he seemed to disappear for a few years’. Keeping tabs on him was always difficult. Asked where have you been, he would say, ‘Oh, visiting an old school friend in New York.’ or ‘Oh, I popped down to see Jack Cann, as well’. or ‘Oh, giving a guided tour of Flemish churches’ or ‘Oh helping a blind friend in Paris or ‘Oh, sailing on the Baltic’. Never mundane, always a surprise.

So here is an attempt to give a potted history of Rob from the point of view of a fellow oarsman. He was born in January 1930 with wonderful prospects. His father owned a chocolate factory. His father wanted his sons to have an international education. So after living through the Second World War in occupied Europe, Rob, aged 16, was sent to school in America. Rob’s education was completed at Trinity College, Dublin. It was at Trinity that he took up rowing. He was too light for the first eight so he switched to sculling with considerable success, representing Trinity in the Diamond Sculls and representing Holland in the Olympic Games.

In the 1950 Diamond Sculls, Rob battled his way through to the final where he provided the spectators with an exciting race, a truly gutsy performance. Doug Melvin said that Rob should have won. For two years, Rob was the Dutch national champion. In the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Rob came fifth in the final. In the 1955 European Championships in Ghent, Rob won bronze, beating Douglas Melvin in the semi-finals.

After University, where Rob read Commerce, he worked in the family’s chocolate factory but decided that his true vocation was as a journalist. He moved to London and rented a flat. Then homeless Cedric Sheppard came to stay for a few weeks but stayed for two years. This arrangement was a success despite their different life-styles.

Cedric disowned Rob when he chose to go running in the strange kit that always marked him out as a non-conformist. There was also always a problem concerning tea. Cedric hid his specially blended tea, rather than waste it on the non-appreciative Rob. How could someone from the Low Countries, educated in America, appreciate the subtle flavours of the perfect blend of tea?

In 1959, Rob joined London Rowing Club, the same year that John Pepys moved to London from Singapore and found a kindred spirit in Rob. Here we had two true gentlemen. Through them, LRC turned up at regattas all over Europe. No regatta was complete without Rob buzzing round greeting his friends, switching effortlessly from one language to another with matching extravagant gestures while the tall military figure of John explained his needs loudly in his slow deliberate, simplified English that we English use to communicate with Johnny foreigner.

In 1981 Rob edited a journal marking the 125th anniversary of the Club, I find this still makes good reading, giving a concise history of the Club and a snapshot into the Club activities at the time. I understand from Julian Ebsworth that a few copies are still available.  

Rob’s journalistic career later took him first to Paris and then to Brussels where he extended the vast network of oar persons that made him welcome throughout the European rowing fraternity. In the 1990s he decided to return to England and settle near London Rowing Club. Rob rented a property, which by chance belonged to our member, John Auber, while looking for a suitable house. After some months, he bought a charming house in Fulham which he furnished with Dutch Colonial furniture, seascapes and rowing memorabilia. To complete his home, Michaele came to share his house adding the feminine touch but singularly failing to control Rob. Appropriately enough, this house is within cycling distance of the club.

Since his return to London, Rob has been a keen member of the Irregulars. If Rob was in the boat, we always went faster. The verbal advice and the example he set made us give of our best. He was also valued as the leading raconteur at the Wednesday night dinners. Rob was also president of Trinity University Boat Club, member of Leander, De Hoop and numerous other clubs around the world.

This of course, only deals with one aspect of his life – rowing. Hints of parallel universes where Rob was also a major player: as a Christian, a sidesman and keen member of the church, a long-time helper with Crisis at Christmas…art critic, barbershop singer, Scottish dancer, public speaker and so the list goes on.

No account of Rob would be complete without mentioning his dress sense. For rowing, he kept up the Dutch tradition of well-used kit. In summer he wore, what at one time were white shorts, held up with a large safety pin and a singlet with another safety pin to stop the straps falling off his shoulders. In winter he wore again, what had at one time been white trousers with a sharp crease stitched in, several jumpers with very large moth holes and toilet paper, wrapped around his neck. After rowing, his version of smart casual was a pair of faded pink trousers, hoisted up with a leather belt to show six inches of lower leg. I once saw him in the role of art critic. He was wearing an Edwardian three piece tweed suit with a flamboyant bow tie.

With the loss of Rob, the LRC loses a colourful character and for many of us a good friend. He will be missed but never forgotten.

(Photo: Jeremy Hudson)


Election of new Committee for 2018-19

About 60 members attended the Annual General Meeting of London Rowing Club which took place on Wednesday 25 July 2018.  Club President Mike Baldwin chaired the meeting.  Tim Grant was elected Club Captain for a second year.  Kathleen Curran succeeded Jason Danciger as Honorary House Steward (Functions).

The following Officers and Committee were elected:


Mike Baldwin

Vice President

Mike Williams

Vice President

Ben Helm


Tim Grant

Chairman of Club

Robert Downie

Hon Secretary

Jeremy Hudson

Asst. Hon. Secretary

Christopher Grainger

Hon Treasurer

Jason Gray

Hon House Steward (Functions)

Kathleen Curran

Hon House Steward (Building)

Josh McInerney

Committee members




Jana Downie


Ciaran Hayes


Luis Orozco


Seb Pearce


Richard Philips


Miles Preston


Bob Silver

Jean-Pierre van Tiel


General Data Protection Regulation

Members of London Rowing Club will be well aware that the GDPR came into effect today 25 May 2018.   They may find a copy of the Club's current Privacy Statement on the Governance page of this website or click on


Jess Eddie becomes Hon. President of Parliamentary Rowing Group

The All-Party Parliamentary Rowing Group announced on 9 November 2017 that London's Jessica Eddie has been appointed as their Honorary President.

Eddie won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics, and also competed at the 2012 and 2008 games. After first representing her country in 2001, Jessica has been spent most of her senior career as a key member of the Great Britain women’s eight. She is a double world medalist at both under-23 and senior level, and became a European champion in 2016. 

As the Group’s first ever Honorary President, Eddie has been appointed for a term of one year in the first instance, and will work with Members to help support the sport at all levels. 

The announcement was made by Group Co-Chair and Member of Parliament for Hendon, Dr Matthew Offord MP. He said “on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Rowing Group, I am delighted to welcome Jessica Eddie as our inaugural Honorary President. Jessica has enjoyed some considerable success over the course of her career, and it is our intention to draw on her experience and hear from her about where she feels the Group can support rowing in Parliament. I am very much looking forward to working with her.”
In accepting the role, Jessica Eddie said “I am honoured to have been invited to become Honorary President of the All-Party Parliamentary Rowing Group. The Group plays a vital role in providing a strong voice for rowing in Westminster and Whitehall, and I look forward to supporting the work of MPs and Peers to tackle issues, and promote the excellent work being done in the sport. I am delighted to accept the role, and look forward to meeting with Members soon.”