Balmain Rowing Club Restoration Project


Balmain Rowing Club (BRC) is one of the oldest rowing clubs
in Australia. Throughout its rich and proud history, the club has produced many rowing champions at state, international and Olympic levels.


The club currently operates out of the original boat shed built in 1882, one of only a few remaining boat sheds built above the water in Sydney Harbour. The shed was built as an extension of an existing structure resulting in a very low two meter ceiling height in the boat shed, to be the cause of many a knocked rigger for years to come.


The structure has survived where others have not, largely due to its sheltered position and the practical care and maintenance exercised by its members over the years. Whilst not having a national heritage listing the building is seen to be “significant” by the community and thereby worthy of retention.



In 2002 under the stewardship and vision of Don Croot, OAM the “new building project” was established. The vision was to rebuild a modern club that would help BRC grow its membership and regained its position as a premier rowing club. 


After a complex approval process that took 8 years to complete, a staged refurbishment of the existing building was finally approved in 2013. Unfortunately Don Croot was unable to see the building work commence but he did leave us with a legacy and a vision that the current membership is committed to completing.



Stage 1 Construction of the ‘West Wing’ to de-clutter the 1882 shed and address immediate storage requirements.

Stage 2 Construction of the ‘East Wing’ for the storage of singles, doubles etc.

Stage 3 Extend staging and relocate ramp/pontoon to facilitate better boat handling.

Stage 4 Construction of side access to street to facilitate easy, safe boat loading.

Stage 5 Provide a new pontoon: improve water access by replacing existing 70 year old timber pontoon (not long enough to launch an eight).

Stage 6 Raise the existing 1882 building to facilitate adequate headroom within boat shed for the safe handling of boats. 

Stage 7 Refurbish existing 1882 building complete wet areas at boat shed level and renovate upper level to facilitate proper facilities and disabled wet area services.
Stage 8 Complete the staging to facilitate safer boat handling.


In 2013 Stage 1 of the project was completed and the West Wing was officially opened by our patron and life member, George Neilson OAM and Jamie Parker MP. Work has also commenced on Stage 2, the East Wing with the piling works and decking complete. The club has also secured funding from Leichhardt Council to assist with the construction of the side access way (stage 4).



At lot has been done but there is still much to do. Funding the complete building works is beyond the resources of the existing membership. BRC is looking for fund raising partners, benefactors and funding ideas to complete the works.


Traditionally BRC has welcomed rowers of all ages and abilities where other rowing clubs may not. BRC also has an active and successful para rowing program and has partnered with the local high school to offer rowing as an available sport, However, the number of people we can cater for is limited due to the size of the pontoon.


Although BRC has had many individual success stories, 1919 was the last time we won the NSW premiership. In recent years the club has been held back by the lack of adequate facilities and some of the top athletes have joined other clubs. 


Please embrace Don Croot’s and the club’s vision to restore Balmain Rowing Club as a premier club and help to make this wonderful sport of rowing more accessable to the wider local community.


If you have any ideas/directions/energy that can help us fundraise to complete this worthwhile project please contact me directly at


Joe Grech

President, BRC

East Wing
East Wing

Piling work under construction December 2014

West Wing, completed 2013
West Wing, completed 2013

Original Boat Shed
Original Boat Shed

East Wing
East Wing

Piling work under construction December 2014


Donations can also be made via the Australian Sports Foundation in support of Balmain Rowing Club – Clubhouse Renovations Project. All donations are tax deductible.