SSRC Boathouse Story
For many years SSRC operated from a polytunnel on private land behind the Old Pier Head in Swanage. This was only ever planned to be a ‘temporary’ site pending plans to relocate in the future…but we ended up staying there for over 10 years!
Whilst we were extremely grateful to the owner for allowing us to use this site we began to struggle to accommodate our boats, equipment and growing membership. A lack of toilet and changing facilities was restricting our ability to widen our range of activity, especially for our junior section.
Fortunately, since 2008, SSRC had been actively looking at all options to provide a permanent base for the club and had been working closely with Swanage Town Council to access all possible sites in the town that could provide suitable to the water.
This long process led us to select the site opposite the polytunnel (and where we are today).
Our architects developed a design with the boathouse embedded into the slope of the site with natural stone elevations and a green roof to complement the existing landscape.
This design was acceptable to Purbeck District Council and detailed planning consent was granted in August 2010.
Funding the boathouse
Over the next two years a huge amount of planning, campaigning and fundraising took place to raise the necessary funds for a new, state-of-the- art facility overlooking Swanage Bay.
Our first donation came from Lindy Phillips and by early 2012, we had secured just over 50% of the project costs from various grant-makers including a generous grant from the de Moulham Trust.
The major turning point came in November 2012 when we had approached the Dorset Chalk & Cheese Local Action Group. Although we knew that our project would provide new community resources, we were invited to ‘re-invent’ ourselves. This meant re-considering the purpose of our organisation, what we, as a charity could offer our local community.
This meant that we would:-
share the new Boathouse with other community groups
link with other organisations such as schools and youth clubs
facilitate sea safety and boat-building/maintenance courses for all ‘users’ of the bay
increase economic activity in the town with Rowing Festivals, Open Days, and ‘Jurassic Coast’ events
Many members attended an evening with Dorset Chalk & Cheese in November 2012 which involved a presentation and display. Support was provided by representatives from British Rowing and the Purbeck Runners.
It was then left to the Local Action group to vote for our application.
In December 2012, we received the news that our application had been successful.
We were delighted that within two years of dedicated fundraising, our target had been reached- and also very excited at the prospect of providing a new facility for members of our community.
The boathouse was constructed during 2013 and officially opened in December.
It is a truly iconic building, carefully sculpted into the contours of Prince Albert Gardens and overlooking Swanage Bay.
Thank you to the following individuals and organisations that helped to fund our building:-
Lindy Phillips, John Wright and Tony Miller
Dorset Chalk & Cheese RDPE Funding
The de Moulham Charitable Trust
Talbot Village Trust
Canford Environmental Ltd
Valentine Charitable Trust
The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation
The Garfield Weston Foundation
Swanage Town Council
Roger Raymond Charitable Trust
We are also indebted to our trustees, members, volunteers and local tradesmen who played a significant role in the boathouse project, bringing the valuable skills needed to ‘make it happen’ such as project and construction management and business and financial skills.
A Community facility
To date, we have shared our facility with Swanage Carnival (the 1,000,000 Metre World Record Ergo Challenge), the Swanage Folk Festival, the Swanage Ukuladies, the Swanage Twinning Association, the University of the Third Age (U3A) and the (first) Swanage Fish Festival.
The boathouse has also been used for 2 wedding receptions and a christening reception - a perfect, seaside venue for people who may not be able to afford expensive venue hire costs for their special occasion or who want to celebrate their special day close to the sea!
For ‘bookings’ we make no charge but merely request a donation to our charity.
If you are a local community group or individual interested in utilising the boathouse, please complete and e-mail the short enquiry form with a brief description of your planned activity.
We offer our boathouse to local groups and societies.
If you are local group or society interested in using our boathouse, Please complete the contact form.
Our Boathouse in the making...
Building work commenced in July 2013
Putting in the ground works...
Work starts on the roof
Building the roof
Stunning panoramic view of Swanage Bay from the Boathouse roof.
Utilising Local Trades
Local labour and materials sourced for the stonework
The inside of the boathouse taking shape
Front of the Boathouse really beginning to take shape with work starting on the freestanding area.
Front of the Boathouse nearly complete.
December 2013 - Completed!