Whanganui Rowing Club

Whanganui Rowing Club

Building Details

Name of Building: Whanganui Rowing Club
Location: 1a Taupo Quay, Whanganui
Year Built: 1898
Heritage Listing: Heritage New Zealand Category 2
Date Plaque Unveiled: 24 March 2023
Current Owners: The Whanganui  Riverboat Restoration & Navigation Trust
Contact Details:  www.waimarie.co.nz
Plaque Sponsor: Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust & Whanganui Collegiate School

Plaque Text

Architect T.H. James designed this Frontier style building for the Whanganui Rowing Club in 1898. Top story and annex added 1905. Collegiate School Rowing Club used annex until 1971. Home of  the Riverboat Trust from 1992 and Museum from 1996.

Related Links

Built in 1898, this Frontier style wooden building was designed by Wanganui architect TH James who was also a member of the Rowing Club.

Brief Historical Information:

The Whanganui Rowing Club came into being on December 22nd 1875 following a meeting of 30 gentlemen at Anderson’s Commercial Hotel.  After much discussion the subscription was set at two guineas.  Mr Anderson advised he had plans for a Boat House and would make those available and that he would guarantee £70 of the estimated £90 required with five gentleman each promising five guineas.    A number of founding members were Old Boys of the Whanganui Collegiate School.

This lead to a long and strong relationship with the School and resulted in the School being the first in New Zealand to adopt rowing as a sport in 1885, with the boys using the club boats to train 4 times a week between 6 am and 8 am.  The first race between the Wanganui Rowing Club and Wanganui Collegiate School was held in March 1886 with the School winning by 2 lengths. The crew being C J Wray, H P Swainson, W S Chubbin, J W Swainson and O Gardner (Cox)

Wanganui architect, Thomas Harvey James designed the new boat shed for the Club in 1898. James was a member of the Rowing Club and a Collegiate Old Boy; he designed the building in his honorary capacity as a committee member.

The style of the building is intriguing as the Frontier style is one more usually associated with small American towns, with a number of examples in Reefton. The architect for the 1905 additions was probably T H Battle, a locally important architect of the period.

The Wanganui Rowing Club was instrumental in developing the sport of rowing in Wanganui, for which the town is still known nationally.

The building was used to restore the paddle steamer, Waimarie, which was relaunched on the Whanganui River on 1 January 2000. The building was extended and altered to accommodate this restoration programme, which was carried out from 1992-2000, much of the work done by volunteers.

Restoration and Current Owner Story

The building was restored by community volunteers and turned into a workshop for the restoration of the Paddle Steamer Waimarie in the late 90’s after it was recovered from the Whanganui riverbed.

The building is now more currently known as the Riverboat Center and Museum. The building has important cultural significance with its displays on riverboats and the riverboat Waimarie, which departs from the neighbouring wharf for regular cruises up the Whanganui River. The Waimarie is the only coal powered paddle steamer In the southern hemisphere.

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to see a larger copy
Riverboat Centre 2021
1892 Rowing Crew
WRC Sheds 1881
1950's shed on the side of WRC
1960's first shed interior