Founded in 1871, the first Pengwern boathouse was jointly rented with Shrewsbury School. The name Pengwern was chosen as a Shrewsbury Rowing Club was already up and running, but it ceased to exist in 1876.
When it began, pleasure boating was a substantial part of the club’s activities but competitive rowing also featured. On 8th September 1864, the newly formed Shropshire Olympian Association held what was described as the first ‘Olympic Regatta’ on the River Severn in Shrewsbury. This event, held over two days, saw crews race side by side as part of the Shropshire Olympian Games, but this wasn’t formalised as Shrewsbury Regatta until 1871. In 1876 Pengwern enjoyed many racing wins due to the employment of Tom Hoare as coach. He was the youngest ever winner of the Thames National Coat and Badge in 1861, and his crew were also the first winners of the West of England Challenge Vase for coxed fours in 1877. Pengwern is proud to own his Coat and Badge, donated by his parents.
The present site of Pengwern’s clubhouse was purchased in 1880. The following year, a new 3-storey half-timbered clubhouse was completed – still the centre part of the existing building. It was generally accepted as being virtually unrivalled architecturally, and having a superb position opposite the Quarry Park.
By 1892, there were 293 registered members – though as it was a male-only sport, no women could yet join. Pengwern first competed at Henley Royal Regatta soon after the First World War. Junior members (under 21) were admitted for the first time in 1929. The same year also witnessed the institution of the Head of the Severn. It was one of the earliest head of the river events, but was discontinued in the 1990s.
During the First World War, there was little time for rowing, but during the Second World War, a Services Regatta was organised. At this time close contact was maintained with serving members via Christmas cards enclosing gifts from the Comfort Fund. The Club’s Roll of Honour records the names of 29 WWI and 9 WWII members killed in these conflicts.
The club enjoyed many successes over the years but activity dwindled in the early 1970s, only to be revivified by the constitution changing to allow the admission of women members. Since then the club has continued to flourish, and now includes a thriving junior membership.
Past honours achieved by club members include Henley winners and GB representation on the continent.
This information was provided by Gerald Lindner, who is researching Pengwern’s history with the aim of writing a comprehensive account. Any information, anecdotes, photographs, cuttings etc. would be appreciated and returned upon request. Contact details below:
T: 01939 260666
Snail-mail: Powys House, Ruyton-XI-Towns, Shrewsbury SY4 1LA