15 – Runnymede Rowing Boat

Discovery Trail 15 (Eastern Gateway Building Atrium, suspended rowing boat)

Continuing educational links with Runnymede, the birthplace of modern democracy.

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The Indenture shown here is dated 28 September 1874, and is the original 31 year lease agreement between the Queen’s representative Charles Alexander Gore (Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Woods, Forests and Land Revenues) and The Secretary of State for India.

Brunel University London has strong links with Runnymede, having had a campus at nearby Cooper’s Hill until it was disposed of in 2007. Brunel retained a physical presence on the Runnymede meadow in the form of the Grade 2 Listed boathouse that was funded by the Secretary of State for India at a cost of £250 in 1871 and latterly was home to the University rowing club. After a number of years of disuse, the building fell into a state of some disrepair and as a contribution to the 800th anniversary celebration of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, the university funded the refurbishment of the Boathouse.

The Boathouse is now an educational facility and has been renamed Brunel University London Magna Carta Centre (MCC). It has recently housed a special exhibition exploring the relevance of Magna Carta in contemporary life.

The Rowing boat which is suspended from the ceiling in the Eastern Gateway Atrium is a Donaritico Split coxed 4, built in Italy circa 1960-1970. It has a wood sub frame and a single outer skin and was a sought after, finely built boat in its day. The fore and aft decks are made of canvas and maintain some watertight integrity without compromising the weight of the boat. It has carbon fibre blades with spoons that would have been used as an upgrade to the original wooden blades.

Ghosted lettering on the bow of the boat was revealed during cleaning and conservation. The name Frank Edwards is now faintly visible. The boat was one of three rowing boats that were left in the boathouse from the Runnymede campus rowing club (previously the Shoreditch Teacher Training College). The other two rowing boats were donated to the rowing club at Langley Academy, which is based in Slough.

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