History of the Chelmsford Canoe Club 1946 – Present
The high level of community participation and excellence is due to over seventy years of hard work and constant improvement. What is now one of the best kayaking clubs in the country started back in 1946 by a small group of local students who established the Chelmsford Boating Club.
The Club’s base moved around many times and included locations at Barnes Mill, Butts Island near Sandford Lock, Kings Meadow, Moulsham Mill and Waterhouse Lane. The Club came into its own when it established a more permanent place at Empire Walk in 1967. The land was leased from Chelmsford Borough Council and has evolved over the years to include the first clubhouse, built in 1968, preceded by the first four bays of canoe storage. As demand for membership increased, a workshop and training room was built in 1980 along with seven more canoe storage bays. A new Boathouse was opened in 1999 funded by a Lottery grant.
The club’s name was changed to Chelmsford Canoe Club in 1980, which better reflected the activities undertaken. The premises were severely damaged in a hurricane in January 1990 and again during the flooding in November 2000 but it was soon back to normality thanks to the efforts of members who rallied around to repair the damage.
In 2008 after a long struggle to obtain planning consent, the new clubhouse was opened. It has facilities that the founder members could only have dreamed of, accessible for all changing and showering rooms, kitchen, meeting/training area and under floor heating. The John Marriage building was named after one of the founder members.
One of the club’s greatest achievements to date was the launching of the Chelmer Canoe Race in 1952. Chelmsford Boating Club, then with about 20 members, challenged other canoeists to beat their single and double paddling times from Chelmsford to Heybridge Basin. The event generated such interest that it became a regular fixture. Within a few years other clubs began organising long distance races and eventually the British Canoe Union sprint racing committee, recognised the race as a sport and the birth of Marathon racing established.