ON THIS DAY – Episode 4

Mike McD continues his account of the birth of QRC, back in 2010:

ON THIS DAY – 10 years ago

Well, not exactly, but we had scheduled our next Steering Group meeting for the 11th June, four days hence. Things had been progressing by leaps and bounds in the interim. Stuart Mitchell had been talking to John Watson and discovered that John was very willing to assist in the build. On a suggestion from his wife Barbara, he had enquired of Scotmid regarding the possible use of the currently empty and advertised unit next door to the shop. An e-mail from him to the rest of us put this on the agenda – with a cautionary note – are we going cart before the horse? when we have no money and no kit?! In the meantime Mel (Alan Meldrum) was busy working up a constitution for ‘Scottish Coastal Rowing Project – Queensferry’ based on the SCRA constitution which of course, had been formed the year before.

In researching the history of rowing at Queensferry we had come across some interesting stuff. [Note from Barbara: The ‘stuff’ was so interesting it’s got its own post!]

The harbour and the ferry passage ( therefore rowing and sailing) were integral to the life of the town for centuries, but as a recreational pursuit it seems to have begun when the Navy started appearing on a regular basis. In June 1860 the flagship ‘Royal Albert’ with eight other battleships, two frigates and a gunboat arrived in the Forth at Queensferry.

HMS Royal Albert at Queensferry in 1860

This was the start of regular fleet visits over the next 30 years, with ships open to the visiting public. A Regatta was held over two days, with rowing races involving gigs, cutters, jollyboats, pinnaces and launches. However an attempt to involve local boatmen and women was unsuccessful. According to a newspaper report this was “possibly from their boats being engaged more profitably in the incessant passenger traffic going on between the shore and the fleet”.


Return to rowing – when guidance permits

Club captain Anne Purcell writes: I hope this finds you well. I’m sure like me you’ve been wishing that we could make full use of this glorious weather and get ourselves out on to the water. Sadly not yet. It’s encouraging that things are beginning to move and with the government initiating the first easing of lockdown procedures we can only hope, if things continue to improve, that future phases will follow smoothly.
I am writing to let you know that the committee has held a virtual meeting as our thoughts naturally turn to how, when the time is right, we can begin to make a return to rowing. The first thing to be clear about is that we will continue to follow government guidance on any easing of restrictions and the implications that this may have for rowing. At the moment, the only permitted activity as a club can be virtual social meetings.
Familiar faces: Virtual shed meetings are held every Saturday at 10am. Bacon rolls optional! Come along and join the fun.
In the meantime there is much we can do in the way of planning and preparation for engagement with any aspects of rowing whether that be social, maintenance or on the water activities. The Committee has convened a sub group to look at the public and environmental health issues around all of these aspects of rowing. We will need to consider our hygiene practices, maintaining physical distancing and the environmental impact of any procedures we put in place and ensure that we have completed the necessary risk assessments and developed clear guidance and protocols for members. Your safety and that of your families must come first.
Please click on this link to read and consider the latest SCRA guidance. Each club will be different in the measures put in place but in the meantime, as we enter the first phase of easing lockdown, all club activities are still suspended other than virtual meetings. I would ask all members to respect this by not entering the shed for any purpose unless it is with the prior approval of the committee. 
The sub group consists of a range of people with relevant skills and knowledge in a variety of fields – Anne F and Maria have an NHS background, Marianne has an environmental background, John will bring his vast knowledge of seamanship and latest guidance from the RYA, I am working in schools with a range of risk assessments and Covid guidance materials which will support the development of club guidance. We will also look to members to share their questions and thoughts as we must be able to reassure each other that we have considered all avenues and answered everyone’s worries adequately.
The key words here are when government guidance permits, and in the meantime we will do our best to make sure that we are ready for that day when it arrives.
It has also been decided, with regret, that we will not be holding our regatta this year. We have requested that the SCRA pencil us into the diary for the same weekend next year. Our youth regatta has also been cancelled at this time.
Take care everyone, stay safe.

ON THIS DAY… Episode 2

Mike McD writes: 27 April – Following our meeting on the Monday evening, Peter, who had already met Alec Jordan, the boat ‘producer’, and Robbie Whiteman, chair of the newly formed SCRA, sent an e-mail to each of them. He asked Robbie if he could provide advice on funding sources, and Alec, if it would be possible to make a date for some of us to see the Anstruther boat. I went off to do some more advertising for the public meeting.

ON THIS DAY… Episode 1

This is rather a belated post – my apologies to Mike McD! But I thought it would be good to keep his posts on the website for posterity. Over to Mike

As you all know we celebrated 9th birthday of Ferry Lass’s launch on 17th this month.

I was reminded by Peter L some time ago that, on this day (26 April) ten years ago, he and I met for the first time, down at Antico, to chat about the potential for building a St Ayles skiff in Queensferry. Having been told by Sheena Mackay about an article in the weekend Scotsman, I had already raised some awareness locally, and placed an advert in the Journal & Gazette calling a public meeting (see below). Peter had actually seen the Anstruther boat at the Scottish Parliament, when he manhandled it in for the MSPs to see. We both confirmed our absolute enthusiasm for getting the project off the ground.

The following week the J&G did a story about the project and our public meeting was held … But all that’s to come. Look out for further bulletins as the exciting story unfolds over the year – in ‘ON THIS DAY … ‘

Peter adds: I am of course aware of the date, as I walked past Orocco Pier this morning. I called Mike before I saw his email post. We had intended to be at the bar this evening to mark the occasion and ask members to come along and buy us a pint!! It has been an exciting journey this past 10 years or more and I feel privileged to have been involved. After my meeting with Mike that is when it all came together with his knowledge and experience and as I have said before, his wonderful group of friends: John Howell, Ranald and Sheena, Stuart Ridge, Stuart and Barbara Mitchell, the late Alan Meldrum (Mel), and also the late John Watson, together with Malcolm Meikle – who led the build of our first skiff, Ferry Lass – and many more, whose names may come out of the woodwork during the posts that Mike is going to put out. Also a mention for a quiet guy, Graham Leith, who was our first Secretary and came to us from the Rotary.