URC Newsletters
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New URC boat shed opening
Union President Brendan O'Dea described the opening of the boat shed as a new beginning… Click to read more
Club Profiles
Click here to read about some of our well known club members


Did you know?
Click here to read stories about Union past and present


URC 150th Jubilee
The Union Rowing Club celebrated its 150th Jubilee in September 2014 - what a great weekend! Click to read more
URC photo gallery
Click here for a glimpse of our crews and our club over the last 150 years


1970s URC Reunion
The 'maiden eights' from 1972 to 1974 and coach Jim Little met for a reunion weekend in November 2012, nearly forty years to the month after the crew first took the water..... Click to read more
Safety at URC
Safety is everyone's responsibility at Union. Click here to read more...


URC Apparel
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URC Strategic Plan
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Union Rowing Club - a brief history




Old Club
Old Club at Kerrs Reach - until 2012

An initial meeting was held on Tuesday July 26th 1864 to form the Railway Rowing Club.
Its 35 members were all involved in the railways and in particular the construction of the Lyttelton Tunnel Project.
The first President, G Holmes, was the Australian contractor for the tunnel construction.
The club headquarters were in Opawa and a boathouse was erected on the banks of the Heathcote River.
The shed was completed for the first boat "Eclipse", a four (built by A. McDonald, of Christchurch, a boatbuilder trained in Scotland) which was launched in September 1864.



World War 1 roll of honour

As completion of the tunnel was nearing, it was realised that membership could be a problem if confined to the railways service.
It was announced on 29th August 1866 that the club would be open to all-comers.
Following a membership increase, the club headquarters were shifted into town and a new boathouse adjacent to the Canterbury Rowing Club was opened on December 4th 1867 on land that was later to become Oxford Terrace.
The Railway Rowing Club continued for two years at the new site before it was decided to change its name to the Union Rowing Club to better reflect its membership.


Union Rowing Club Cap

On June 23rd 1869 fire completely destroyed the Union Club building and rowing plant, a disaster that was to be repeated again 143 years later in the arson attack at Kerrs Reach in 2012.
Despite the setback, the club opened a new building on the same site in October 1869.


1895 Crew

In 1881 the City Council advised they would be taking the land occupied by the clubs for the formation of Oxford Terrace. Union moved north to Oxford Terrace and Canterbury moved directly across the river with new boathouses being built by both clubs.


1909 - 1911 Champions

On 16th March 1887 along with eight other rowing clubs, Union became a founding member of the New Zealand Amateur Rowing Association (later to become Rowing New Zealand).


1937 NZ Rowing Journal




URC 1939 75th Anniversary Booklet

On 10th November 1896, the two storey structure that was to serve the club as its Oxford Terrace base for the next 60 years was completed and opened by the Mayor.
In 1958, the removal of the Dallington Weir lowered the city river levels and made the town rowing course unsuitable.
Union commenced all rowing at Kerrs Reach in the 1957 -58 season.

The club purchased from the NZ Navy a wooden building used as an immigration hostel at Lyttelton, sectionised then transported it over the Port Hills via Evans Pass and erected it at Kerrs Reach at a cost of $2000.
The old wooden Union Club building was retained for several years for various uses and then sold to the Arawa Canoe Club in 1995.


1950 Crew

1961 The Christchurch City Council granted a 21 year lease on land at Kerrs Reach for all rowing clubs.
In 1968 the Union and Canterbury Clubs arranged for the completion of the Leander Club, a joint venture building at Kerrs Reach with a ballroom above the boat sheds below, an arrangement reminiscent of the Oxford Terrace building.
Union added a further bay to the ground floor to cater for the increased membership and boat storage.


1991 Women Champs

The Leander building was significantly damaged in the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes resulting in the building being rendered unusable except for plant storage.
The club's additional bay was severely structurally compromised in the September quake which necessitated its demolition.
However, only one boat was lost to the earthquake damage.


Dale Maher NZ Representative

The earthquake damage meant all rowing at Kerrs Reach ceased due to health concerns arising from sewage contamination of the Avon River.
Union relocated some of its rowing plant to temporary storage elsewhere in the city and commenced rowing on the Kaiapoi and Waimakariri Rivers.
For most of 2011 and 2012, Union was based on the club trailer with several boats towed to Kaiapoi at weekends to be rigged, rowed then de-rigged.


Aftermath of fire in old shed, 2012

On February 25th 2012, the Leander Club building was destroyed by fire in an arson attack.
For the second time in its history, Union had fallen victim to fire.
The club lost 17 boats and equipment that was being stored in the building.
However, once again the club demonstrated its strong powers of recovery.
The new boathouse was opened on the same site it previously occupied on September 29th 2013 and is a fitting milestone in the club's 150 year history.




New Club Opening