Heritage is about the things from the past which
are valued enough today to save for tomorrow.

West Australian Rowing Club

The West Australian Rowing Club was founded in 1882, and originally had its boat shed at the end of Barrack Street, followed by one on the bank of the Swan River in South Perth. The first shed was constructed in 1886 and designed by architect Francis Bird, who later redeveloped Strawberry Hill Farm in Albany.

In 1905, the State Government decided to redevelop the land where the shed was located and offered a new site on the foreshore of the Swan near the law courts. Designed by architect Felix Whitwell, the new two-storey jarrah building had space for a “first-class fleet of boats”, while the first floor had dressing rooms, a secretary’s office, and a club room with a balcony overlooking the river.

The new boat shed was officially opened on March 12, 1906. There was an addition to the upper floor addition on the western side, probably in the late 1920s. By 1990 the building was in a serious state of disrepair. This time, however, club members rallied round and it was renovated between 1994 and 1997 by volunteers. These renovations included using recycled timbers from the Albany Jetty.

Today, the West Australian Rowing Club building is the only remaining example of a timber boat shed a on the Perth foreshore and is still used daily for its original purpose.

Detailed Description

The West Australian Rowing Club was founded in 1882, and originally had its boat shed at the end of Barrack Street, followed by one on the bank of the Swan River in South Perth. The first shed was constructed in 1886 and designed by architect Francis Bird, who later redeveloped Strawberry Hill Farm in Albany.

There had been a rowing club in Perth since 1868, and early membership was mostly made up of army officers and professionals, very much a club of the upper echelons in society. When the club was formally constituted in 1882 there were a large number of boat sheds along the river both at South Perth and at the foot of Barrack Street, roughly where the ferries now operate.

In 1905, the State Government decided to redevelop the land where the shed was located and offered a new site on the foreshore of the Swan near the law courts. Designed by architect Felix Whitwell, the new two-storey jarrah building had space for a “first-class fleet of boats”, while the first floor had dressing rooms, a secretary’s office, and a club room with a balcony overlooking the river. In exchange for the South Perth site, the Government agreed to fund the building of the lower floor.

The new boat shed was officially opened on 10 March 1906:

On Saturday afternoon a very pleasant social gathering took place at the boathouse of the Western Australian Rowing Club, the occasion being the opening of the new shed. The afternoon was fine, and several hundreds of people assembled to take part in the proceedings. The committee had gaily decorated the premises, and the refreshments were served on tables prettily arranged, and showing conspicuously the red and gold colours of the club.

There was an addition to the upper floor addition on the western side, probably in the late 1920s. By the 1960s, the rowing club was in financial difficulty and the building was condemned and very nearly demolished as part of the State Government’s river reclamation schemes.  Although it was saved, by 1990 the building was in a serious state of disrepair. This time, however, club members rallied round and it was renovated between 1994 and 1997 by volunteers. These renovations included using recycled timbers from the Albany Jetty.

Today, the West Australian Rowing Club building is the only remaining example of a timber boat shed a on the Perth foreshore and is still used daily for its original purpose.

West Australian 22 March 1886

Western Mail 28 April 1894

Western Mail 19 November 1897

Daily News 14 September 1905

Daily News 12 March 1906

Location