rowing clubs London
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Sculling and sweeping: The best rowing clubs in London

14 Sep 2023 | |By Annie Lewis

Row, row, row your boat gently down the Thames with these great clubs open to seasoned athletes and newbies alike

Rowing, for the longest time, has been considered an elitist sport – especially in London. Those enrolled at the capital’s most exclusive private schools or with long-standing links to said clubs take to rowing like a duck to water, whiling away sunny Saturdays with a paddle on the Thames. The rest of us, however, probably aren’t quite sure where to start. Which makes sense. Rowing clubs in the capital are among the oldest and most successful in the world, with squads competing at the Olympics, making annual appearances at Henley Regatta and the famous Boat Race between the Oxbridge teams. But they would also be the first to tell you that everyone is invited to take part.

It’s a serious sport, one that will test your endurance and resilience and in return offers a full-body workout and enhances your cardiovascular system, while also forging friendships thanks to its team format (assisted further by those post-row pints in the clubhouse). Whether you’re well versed in the sport or need to learn your scull from your sweep, here are the best rowing clubs in London to join now. 

London Rowing Club, Putney

london rowing club
Image: London Rowing Club

The second-oldest rowing organisation on the Thames, this club resides on Putney’s Embankment and was founded in 1856 by the long-disbanded Argonaut Club. During the 19th century, it was one of many practising on the Thames, triggering a move to combine all clubs to successfully compete against the Oxford and Cambridge crews at Henley, and so the London Rowing Club was formed. It went from strength to strength, now possessing an almighty trophy cupboard housing wins at Henley, the Boat Race and international awards, as well as boasting a few royal visits on its guestbook thanks to a former patronage from Prince Philip. 

The clubhouse itself is a private members’ club with only some facilities open to the public. Talented international and national athletes are often invited to train on the Thames, enjoy state-of-the-art facilities and world-class coaching on the fleet of Empachers and Filippis boats. London Rowing Club does also host TopRow – a team that specialises in getting people onto the water for the first time and offering an easy way to take up the sport – each year, with an annual programme of dates dedicated to beginners classes. It’s a great place to pick up the oars for the first time. 

7 Putney Embankment, SW15 1LB, visit

Tideway Scullers School, Chiswick

tideway scullers school
Image: Tideway Scullers School

Located by Chiswick Bridge, Tideway Scullers School is one of Britain’s most successful sculling and rowing clubs. It was founded in 1957 with the aim of coaching individuals in the single scull (where athletes have two oars, one in each hand) while competing in crews. And as a result of its famous coaching, the club has had Olympic representation since it was founded and members have represented Great Britain at an international level since 1984, as well as competing at European regattas in Ghent and Amsterdam and home competitions in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. 

Tideway Scullers’ also has Learn to Row and improvers’ sculling courses named after Alec Hodges, a former captain and founding member of the club, who trained everyone from novices to Olympic athletes, such as Debbie Flood and Alan Campbell. Some courses require previous experience, so make sure to double-check before you book. 

Dan Mason Drive, Dukes Meadow, Chiswick, W4 2SH, visit

Fulham Reach Boat Club, Fulham

fulham reach boat club
Image: Fulham Reach Boat Club

This is the place to go if you’d like to learn. As a registered charity with a vision of ‘rowing for all’, Fulham Reach Boat Club (FRBC) gives local communities, especially those in financial hardship or difficult social circumstances, the opportunity to try rowing while helping them realise their potential both on and off the water. The clubhouse, located within the new Fulham Reach housing development, features a comprehensive fleet of boats, an indoor training room and top-class changing facilities allowing FRBC to be a leading light within British rowing. 

Quality rowing courses are divided into groups: adults, personal training, junior holiday camps and Rowfit classes. While the latter doesn’t actually take place on the water, Rowfit offers a full-body workout focusing on improving technique and core strength in a combination of 500m erg sprints and body conditioning exercises – and are open to everyone. Elsewhere, 14- to 18-year-olds can book one-week junior courses including 10 coaching sessions. After this camp, rowers can progress to experienced sessions or look to become junior members at FRBC. This is a great way to be introduced to the sport and develop key skills quickly with places now available for October half term. 

Unit A, Distillery Wharf, Chancellors Road, W6 9GX, visit

Thames Rowing Club, Putney

thames rowing club
Image: Thames Rowing Club

With a rich history dating back to 1860, Thames Rowing Club attracted the then-City crowd, comprising clerks and salesmen looking to blow off some steam. Its aim was modest – to create a club of ‘organised pleasure or exercise rowing’ – and it’s fair to say it’s been achieved. By the end of the 19th century, Thames Rowing Club had 21 Henley titles under its belt and went on to be the home of notable sporting figures including accoladed coach Steve Fairbairn and Britain’s greatest-ever single sculler, Jack Beresford, who won three Olympic gold medals and two silvers. 

With a clubhouse gym boasting 30 ergometers, several RowPerfects, erg bikes, a free weights room and rowing tank, there’s plenty to put the crew of seasoned athletes to the test before they take to the Putney water in Empachers and Filippis. This club, however, is not for newbies with no short teaching courses on offer; the men’s and women’s senior squads cater for accomplished rowers, whether they trained at school, university or another club, and are keen to continue improving and winning.

Putney Embankment, SW15 1LB, visit

Kingston Rowing Club, Kingston

Kingston Rowing Club
Image: Kingston Rowing Club

While the club’s location on the Thames has moved upstream and downstream throughout its 165-year history, its aim has always remained the same: providing quality coaching for aspiring and talented athletes. Now based between Kingston Bridge and Teddington Lock – with a charming riverside clubhouse featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a large open-air balcony for those all-important social occasions – teams have access to one of the longest, calmest and non-tidal river stretches in the UK, with over seven kilometres of navigable water. 

Teams are separated into professional juniors, seniors, masters and development (comprising some of the best rowing crews in the country), as well as recreational and learn-to-row sessions. The latter includes a bit of everything from introduction to the equipment to how to get into and out of the boat, and from water safety and capsize drills to fine-tuning blade work. Be aware these courses often get booked up far in advance, and as applications for 2024 are open now, we’d encourage you to be quick… 

Canbury Boathouse, Lower Ham Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT2 5AU, visit

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