Gravesend RC survives two world wars

Having joined the Amateur Rowing Association in 1913 the club no doubt hoped to compete more widely, but all rowing stopped during the 1914-18 war when the clubhouse was taken over by the Army and used as a guardhouse. In 1937 the local council purchased the former defence fort and turned it into a pleasure garden, thus making the club council tenants, and during the Second World War they requisitioned the clubhouse section for use as a cafe. Though the boat-house continued to be available throughout, it was not until some years after 1945 that the rowers regained their clubhouse.

Throughout the war professional watermen continued to work on the river, and in 1940 Eric Lupton won the prestigious Doggett’s Coat and Badge. An accomplished oarsman, he later became the last holder of the European title when he beat Eric Phelps in 1954. Both his sons, John and Robert, also won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge (in 1968 and 1974 respectively) and were members and Captains of the club. Other Gravesend RC members who have won this famous watermen’s event are Jack Anson (1946), Jamie Clifford (1993), Chris Bullas (1994), Michael Russell (1997) and Jack Dean (2005). Though most of these moved on for a time to other London clubs to gain more competition experience and coaching, they began their rowing careers with Gravesend RC and generally returned, lured by the pull of their home club.