A new home for women's rowing

A new home for women's rowing

  • An architects' drawing of the new boathouse complex
    An architects' drawing of the new boathouse complex

Image used courtesy of CUWBC and Jeremy Bailey Architects with Baynes and Mitchell Architects

Founded in 1941, the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) began as a student-run club, reliant on volunteer coaches and the support of College clubs for equipment and training facilities.

In 2016, a year on from the first Women’s Tideway Boat Race and 75 years after it was founded, the club is a professionally run elite programme competing at the highest level. Winning against Oxford in the Boat Race remains the ultimate goal of each crew, but CUWBC also competes in major national competitions such as the British Rowing Championships, the Fuller’s Head of the River Fours, the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race and the British Universities & Colleges’ Sport (BUCS) Head and Regatta.

The Ely Boathouse

For a club of this standard, it has long been recognised that better facilities are required. Happily, with planning permission secured for a new boathouse in Ely (to be shared with the Cambridge University Boat Club and Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club), and support from numerous donors, many of them alumni of the University and other boat clubs, this vision is being realised. When complete, the new site aims to be the premier training programme and rowing facility for women in the country, boasting access to the best training water, four boat bays and a wet dock, as well as space to launch multiple boats at the same time. Custom-built areas for crew members to complete their academic work around training will enable the athletes of CUWBC to manage the demands of their university workload alongside the intense training programme required to compete at the modern Boat Race.

There are not many times in life when you can contribute to something that will be a game-changer for your sport or university. Here is our chance to begin to level the playing field and support future generations to achieve great things on the water. I hope every rower who has ever competed for CUWBC will contribute whatever they can afford to make it happen.

Annemarie Phelps CBE, Blondie 1987

Project Ely is not just for the club members of today, but has been powered by a desire to secure the future of CUWBC for generations to come – a future where the drive and ambition of Cambridge’s women rowers can be unleashed and nurtured, and where each crew member can fulfil their potential. The opening of Ely Boathouse will be a significant development in Cambridge University rowing and a historic occasion in women’s rowing.

There are over 700 clubs and societies at the University of Cambridge. They are an integral part of Cambridge, where many students have some of the best experiences of their lives. In 2014-15 £3.3 million was given to support sports clubs and societies.

Inspired to make a gift?

Give to student clubs and societies


Stay informed

For regular updates about the impact of giving to Cambridge, follow @yourscambridge on Twitter.

Related impact stories

Philanthropic giving is at the heart of the success of the Collegiate University, enabling us to make discoveries that change the world and to ensure that our students receive an unrivalled education.

Philanthropic impact story
“Like the women who study here, our buildings are innovative and impressive,” says Fiona Duffy, Development Director of Murray Edwards College. “But even buildings that have won architectural awards need renovating from time to time to meet the needs of the next generation of students.”
Group of undergraduate students sitting on steps
Philanthropic impact story
Dr Mark Wormald is Secretary of the Senior Tutors’ Committee and Co-Chair of the Student Support Initiative

Giving opportunities

Philanthropic giving is at the heart of the success of the Collegiate University, enabling us to make discoveries that change the world and to ensure that our students receive an unrivalled education.

A College supervision session
Teaching the next generation of leaders how to think, not what to think. Here, teaching is a two-way process, revolving around an exchange of thinking and understanding.
Students in front of one of our Colleges
There are thousands of students out there who could make their mark on the world.