The London Roar


A very happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a restful and enjoyable Christmas and are now ready to hit into 2019! It was great to see so many of you for the LRC Christmas Races. Great fun and good to blow out the cobwebs!

This year will be very exciting for London. We have the new gym coming on line, the squad going from strength to strength and our approach to the management of the club’s business functions (events, facility and, before long, the gym) being reinforced to ensure we continue to raise funds for LRC’s continued success.

We are planning to get a couple of Club Days going again this year, aiming for the first one in early February. We are trying to tie in with some rugby for the TV at the bar as well. I will be sending out a separate message about this shortly.  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Halford, Eddie Markes and Simon Harris (the members of the Gym Development sub-committee) for all the hard work they have put into, and are still putting into, the gym re-development. They have worked tirelessly for many months on this, on a wholly unremunerated basis, to ensure that we will end up with the most fantastic gym facilities and changing rooms.

Please read both the piece by Peter Halford and the one by Ben Helm below. The project is progressing really well and we are on target to complete it by the end of March. As you will see from Ben’s article, we still need more money to finish the build and ensure that we have top class equipment in the two gym areas. I urge members, particularly those who have not yet made a donation, to do so now.

The Club will shortly be employing a General Manager to help us run the Club and its facilities. One of the new manager’s roles will be to co-ordinate the use and maintenance of all our land based facilities, both training and social, with a view to maximizing revenue which can then be ploughed back into enabling our crews to be successful and provide  a better experience for our members and leisure groups.

Finally, the Annual Dinner is fast approaching – the 25th January! Historically a grand affair, so make sure you book your tickets with the team quickly before they have all gone….  I promise to keep my speech under 5 minutes…

As ever, please do let me know if you have ideas, queries or comments on anything at the Club,

Bang the drum

Tim Grant




25 January: Annual Club Dinner
27 January: Quintin Head
06 February: Irregulars’ Dinner
10 February: Bedford Head
16 February: Molesey Veteran Head
16 February: Henley Head
17 February: Boustead Cup
23/24 February: GB Junior Trials (Boston)
03 March: Hammersmith Head
06 March: Irregulars’ Dinner
09 March: Reading University Head
15 March: Schools’ Head
16 March: Women’s Eights Head
23 March: Kingston Head
30 March: Head of the River Race
31 March: Vesta Veterans’ Head
03 April: Irregulars’ Dinner (provisional)
07 April: Oxford v Cambridge Boat Races


What a huge difference a few weeks makes. Since the last update (01 December) great progress has been made by our contractors who have been working throughout the Christmas period and during December when the weather was awful with almost continual rain.

All of the roof cladding has now been fitted, which is great news, and by the time this update is published much of the elevational (side) cladding will also have been fitted. The elevational cladding work (as with much else in the project) is complicated as the shapes are not regular and there are lots of cutting out details for windows and ventilation louvres that have to be fitted carefully to ensure that the finished gym is watertight. The windows and glazed sections themselves are scheduled to be delivered and fitted in about four weeks’ time.

The walls for the physio room and accessible shower/WC have been constructed and are now being lined and connections have been made for drainage.  

The changing room walls have also been constructed and members might see a glimpse of the new changing room area through the temporary opening on the first floor. The steps and platform that will form the connection to the changing room from the common parts are being fabricated to match the existing galvanised steel staircase.

Now that the roof is on, and the gyms are watertight, a number of activities can take place simultaneously and work is starting to move from the construction phase to the fitting out phase. This includes, initially, all of the plumbing and electrics, preparing the flooring in the changing room, accessible WC and physio rooms ready to take the special non-slip flooring, and lining the walls where necessary - e.g. in shower and WC areas.

Although there is still a lot to do, the gyms are going to look good. Very good. The photographs below give an indication of the spaces that are being created.

Recent images of the large gym (above) and small gym

Recent images of the large gym (above) and small gym

The gym redevelopment sub-committee continues to work very hard on the project. The guiding principles throughout have been robustness, durability, functionality and low-maintenance, with good sustainable design incorporated wherever possible.

For more information contact Peter Halford, Eddie Markes or Simon Harris.

If you have not yet donated or can increase your donation, please do give as generously as you feel able.


Earlier this week I was lucky enough to be able to inspect the state of play with the new gym and changing room build. The project has come on hugely over the past few weeks and the end of the project is very much in sight. Having the chance to look around brings home just how large a site we are developing; the two gyms are really large with high ceilings and masses of natural light. The changing area is going to be excellent and, again, spacious.

It is clear that this is going to be the best training space, at least that I am aware of, on the Thames. Huge thanks are due from us all to Peter Halford, Eddie Markes and Simon Harris for their endless hard work on the project. Had we had to pay for the work they have so generously volunteered to give, the cost would have been substantially greater.

What is also gratifying for the future is that the new facilities provide the prospect of generating income. Besides the physio room, the facility will be made available to external fitness trainers and yoga, pilates and dance teachers during quiet times of the week.

In terms of the cost of the project, we are now clear that, inclusive of the cost of equipping the gym, this is going to be £550,000. Thanks to the very generous donations already made, we have so far raised some £490,000 - £200,000 being from a small number of substantial bequests and donations and £290,000 from smaller donations from the membership.

We currently have 678 members. So far, some 530 of those members have not donated anything. With the shortfall we have of £60,000, it is not rocket science to work out that if each of those members were to donate £113, the target will be achieved.

That said, I readily appreciate that there will be members who are not in a position to donate very much and certainly not as much as this. Equally, however, I hope and believe there must be many members who can manage more.

We would greatly appreciate it if everyone who can will donate, say, £250. If sufficient are prepared to do this, we will be home and dry.

Putting this in rowing terms, we have reached the mile and an eighth post at Henley and have just twenty-five strokes to go.

If you have any questions about the project or want to discuss making a donation, please email me on

If you would like to make a donation, please either send a cheque payable to London Rowing Club to me at the Club or contact the Club office directly at or telephone us (020) 8788 1400. Please reference your payment ‘gym’ followed by your name.

Ben Helm
Vice President, London Rowing Club



Around 90 Club members gathered in the Long Room on Thursday, 13th December for the Christmas Supper. The Club was resplendent. The Fairbairn room boasted a handsome tree to match the Christmas sparkle of the Long Room.

It was a great turnout from across the Club, with both new and old faces on parade.

Turkey and all the trimmings were had at this Christmas “reboot”, skilfully organised by House Steward, Kathleen Curran. We had a surprise visit from Santa and a lucky dip “raffle” that added to the fun of the evening. In short, dear reader, there were prizes to be had! The enthusiasm that greeted each winner grew as the evening progressed, proving that we all know how to ‘gather strength as we go’.

The evening culminated in a thrilling sing-off, adjudicated by a secret panel of experts. Our very own Master Barman, Tom Kimmins, revealed that ‘Decorum’ had won over ‘Decibels’ as one of our own Irregulars’ tables, ably steered by Eddie Markes, managed to hold off the Captain’s table and be crowned Club crooners.

Bang the (ear)drum!

Jacqueline Grosch


The Christmas Supper on the 13th December was a huge success. As well as organising a really good meal, Kathleen Curran had arranged a lot of mini activities during the evening including a wonderful raffle with great prizes, a short quiz and a singing competition. Our group was very well represented and a great evening was had by all.

Some members of the Irregulars were part of a Category E Eight which took part in the Remenham Challenge on 15th December – the crew finished in the middle of their category and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! (a shorter course than the usual Head Race).

We have now held two sessions in the Barn Elms Tank to help more members to hone their skills at sweep rowing. These sessions took place at 9.00am, prior to the normal Sunday 10.00am outings. Miles Preston very kindly took these sessions and there was good attendance at both. We plan to continue with these in the New Year. I will email members of the Irregulars in advance to give them notice of other sessions.


By the time this edition of The London Roar is published, we will have had the January Irregulars’ Dinner on the 9th January. The next Dinner is scheduled for the 6th February. Do come if you can. These are very friendly and reasonably priced events.

Best wishes to everyone for 2019.

Eddie Markes


Oliver Philpot on boat marshalling duties at the Met c. 1980

Oliver Philpot on boat marshalling duties at the Met c. 1980

Two recent obituaries in the Daily Telegraph (26 November) and The Times (14 December) of a former POW, Tom Wilson, at the age of 97 brought to mind the exploits of Oliver L S (“Ollie”) Philpot, a London member and RAF officer who escaped with two others from a Luftwaffe-run camp, Stalagluft III, in Sagan, Lower Silesia, in October1943.

Philpot was invited to join, as “third man”, Michael Codner and Eric Williams who conceived the idea of a tunnel starting from a gymnasts’ vaulting horse; this became known famously as the Wooden Horse. All three men made successful ‘home runs’, Philpot travelling alone disguised as a Norwegian salesman. He travelled by train to Danzig where he climbed up the mooring ropes of a Swedish-flag ship bound for neutral Sweden.

The exploits of the three men were made into a film, ‘Wooden Horse’, in 1950 and Philpot wrote what is generally regarded as the best book about the escape, ‘Stolen Journey’ (published by Hodder & Stoughton in hardback and later Corgi Books). This contains occasional references to the club, Putney and the start at Henley. The well-known ‘Great Escape’ from the same camp, involving 76 British Commonwealth POWs (50 of whom were later executed by the Germans), took place a few months later in March 1944.

Members of a certain age will remember Philpot coming in about 1967 to the clubhouse to give a Wednesday evening talk, when he signed copies of his book. He was also a regular boat marshal at the HORR and the Met, wearing a distinctive garb – see illustration.

Philpot first rowed at Radley and then Worcester College, Oxford, and raced at Henley in London’s Thames Challenge Cup crew which reached the final in 1937.  He was awarded both the MC and the DFC. He died in 1993, aged 80.

Julian Ebsworth


Another great item of sartorial elegance from the LRC Kit Store


£19.50 Club flag motif cufflinks

Please contact Matt Piechowicz:
or Jessica Salter:


All members are reminded that if you are involved in or witness a water safety incident, you are required to report it on

The Club will file any necessary reports on your behalf with British Rowing and the PLA. Members should not submit reports directly to either body.


My thanks to everyone who has contributed to this edition of the London Roar. If you have an idea for an article or would be interested in submitting a piece for inclusion in a future edition, please email me on

Please do not submit an article without first liaising with me.

Miles Preston
Editor of The London Roar