14 August 2020
By Daniel Walker
For the HTBS show-and-tell series Daniel Walker has chosen a pair of whisky glasses that recall an unexpected but fondly recalled afternoon.
Two years ago this month, Glasgow was the co-host (with Berlin) of the inaugural European Championships. The rowing venue for the multi-sport games was Strathclyde Park in Motherwell on the edge of the city of Glasgow. Strathclyde Park and its loch is the home of Scottish Rowing and the usual host for the Scottish Championships. Glasgow is undoubtedly one of my favourite cities and for that reason, amongst many, I volunteered to be one of the team of helpers and officials who would put on the games.
Before the start of the rowing competition my girlfriend and I were exploring Glasgow. As we were walking, we naturally followed the river and noticed a couple of sculling boats out. We crossed the river on a convenient bridge and tracked them back until we found Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club, which sits in an idyllic location in Glasgow Green on the north bank of the Clyde, bang in the centre of the city. Clydesdale ARC, one of the oldest rowing clubs in Scotland, was founded in 1857, the same year as the first recorded regatta on the Clyde. Their original boathouse was a little further upriver on the south side of the Clyde.
We stopped briefly to watch the youngsters in their singles supervised by a couple of coaches. As we watched we started chatting to one of the coaches, introduced ourselves and explained why we were there at all. He invited us in for a tour of the club and boathouse. We had a thoroughly delightful time, exploring this lovely club, chatting all things rowing and hearing about their hopes for the proposed redevelopment of the boathouse.
Clydesdale ARC’s home since 1905 is one half of the West Boathouse, shared with neighbours and friendly rivals Clyde ARC – one can only imagine that there are more than a few puzzled faces from unfamiliar visitors wondering if they are meant to be at Clyde ARC or Clydesdale ARC! Plans are currently underway to repair and rejuvenate the listed, timber-framed building which is starting to show its age. There is a terrific website about the redevelopment project at westboathouse.org.uk.
We said our goodbyes, but as I turned back to take a couple more pictures of the boathouse our host (my rather hopeless memory for names suggests he may have been called Gordon?) came out and presented me with two lovely engraved whisky glasses as a memento of our visit.
For the next week, my time was divided between mornings on the shores of the artificial Strathclyde Loch helping out with the rowing and afternoons being a tourist in the wonderful city of Glasgow. Although it was a fantastic week all round, my first and warmest memory is of our visit to Clydesdale ARC and the spontaneous hospitality shown to a couple of strangers who just happened to wander past.
Notwithstanding the fact that these glasses were neither won nor earned in any sense, one of them sits on show with some of our household’s rowing trophies and the other remains downstairs, conveniently to hand in case a whisky-related emergency should arise.
I like your rowing memory. I was on a training camp in Glasgow during Easter 2001 and had an outing on the Clyde. I am quite sure Gordon was the name of the nice rower who gave you the glasses. Gordon Simpson, whom I also met back then, if only briefly. There are, or has been several Simpsons engaged in Clydesdale ARC as far as I know. Thanks for sharing your story!