Women at Thames
Women at Thames
In early 1973, Thames captain John Levy received a request from the United Universities Women’s Boat Club seeking accommodation for two eights and a four at TRC. To Levy and other enlightened members of the club committee this seemed to present a great opportunity at a time when Thames was short of members and money.
Of course, to some other members the idea of women in the clubhouse was appalling. Fortunately for TRC’s future, Levy, Freddie Page and other ‘progressives’ were wily in dealing with this opposition. At a Special General Meeting held on 16 May 1973, the club resolved by a majority to admit women to all classes of membership. Club legend has it that many of the backwoodsmen had not noticed that the meeting had been scheduled for the unusually early time of 6:45pm – and so they missed the crucial votes. UUWBC moved their boats to Thames, joined en masse, and became the first women at Thames.
Although Thames was by no means the first women’s club in London, it soon became the powerhouse – unmatched by any other club in Britain, perhaps in the world. Thames women represented Great Britain at every Olympic Games from Los Angeles to Beijing – and in 2000, 2004 and 2008 they returned with medals.
While lottery funding, early talent identification and the move of the national team to Caversham mean that the role of clubs in international rowing has diminished, Thames remains a key player in women’s rowing.
Since the founding of Henley Women’s Regatta in 1987, the Club has won there over 50 times. At Henley Royal Regatta, alongside many wins in composite crews, Thames won the highly competitive Remenham Challenge Cup for women’s eights outright in 2005. Recent wins include the Head of the River Race in 2012, senior coxed fours at Henley Women’s in 2015 and intermediate club eights at Henley Women’s in 2010 and 2014.
Thames women also represent their country regularly at the annual Home International Regatta.
TRC’s ambitions in women’s rowing remain high, with spending on dedicated professional coaching and a boat fleet every bit as modern as the men’s.