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History of the Remenham Club

On the 2nd February 1909 a meeting was held at the Grosvenor Club in Piccadilly. The social club for ladies and gentlemen started life in Bond Street as an art gallery founded by Sir Coutts Lindsay and bankrolled by his wife Blanche, a Rothschild heiress.

The objects of the club were stated as “social intercourse and mutual and moral improvement”. By 1903 it had relocated to 68a Piccadilly and bought up property in Remenham lane to create a large lawn and clubhouse adjoining the river.

The Grosvenor facilities, which boasted a spacious lawn on the towpath side and a view over the whole of the Henley course, were made available for visiting crews to use and the committee was also in the habit of inviting groups of people from other clubs and institutions to become honorary members for the regatta, enabling them to take advantage of the facilities and the lunch tent in the grounds.

The meeting held at the Grosvenor club was to discuss the formation of a new social club at Henley. The idea of the club appears to have come from Mr. F.S. Lowe, an ex-captain of London; and it was mainly representatives of London Rowing Club and Thames Rowing Club who led the support of his vision and its successful formation.  Also present at that first meeting were rowing men from Staines Boat Club, Kingston Rowing Club and Molesey Boat Club. The main outcome of the meeting was to appoint a sub-committee to consider the name, subscription cost and the membership criteria for the club.

Within a week they had settled on the name “The Remenham Club” and agreed that London, Thames, Kingston, Molesey, Twickenham and Staines would be considered to be the six Founding Clubs. Vesta was to be listed as one of the Founding Clubs in committee minutes from 28 June 1947 when the committee clarified the conditions of membership, bringing the number to seven.

The committees of these clubs were invited to attend a meeting on the 13th March, to found the proposed new Remenham Club. Key to this was the stated intention of strengthening their memberships and resources, by consolidating their oarsmen and giving them a common meeting place at Henley.

This common meeting place would be the Grosvenor River Club Buildings and Lawn in Remenham (now known as Barn Elms, adjoining the Remenham Club) providing members with lunch and dinner facilities and the opportunity to entertain guests. However following issues with the facilities provided for the club during the 1909 regatta, the arrangement between the Grosvenor and Remenham Clubs was officially terminated.

The Remenham club’s permanent home was agreed following a temporary location for the 1910 regatta, opposite Phyllis Court and adjoining the Leander Enclosure in White House meadow.  Successful negotiations were held with the Hon. W.F.D. Smith, whose father and grandfather founded the firm of newsagent, to obtain a lease of 300 feet of frontage next to the Grosvenor Club. Signed in on the 30th January 1911, the lease was for 30 years at a cost of £40 per year and included a clause that trees should be planted at the club premises. This lease, which was changed to a 99 year lease in 1937, was finally replaced by the purchase of the freehold in 1953.

The Clubhouse was started in May 1911 around the same time that The Remenham Club became a limited company. The first committee meeting in the new building was held on the 1st July 1911 and, by the time of the regatta, the club’s future was secure.