During the autumn of 1935 the author began to be interested in the history of rowing at Queen’s University and opened a correspondence with T. G. Houston, a former principal of Coleraine Academical Institution. From him he learnt that during the 1860s there had been a boat club at Queen’s College Belfast, but that this had faded when the members went down from the College. Professor W. B. Morton (Physics 1897-1933) was also approached to find out if any serious attempts had been made to revive rowing during his time at Queen’s. The answer was a very definite no for, in those days, the first step taken by students in starting any new venture was to beg financial assistance from the staff and he had never been ‘sounded’. Professor Morton would have been an obvious target for would-be oarsmen as he had rowed for Lady Margaret Boat Club when at Cambridge.
Nevertheless, there was still a belief, though unconfirmed, that several attempts had been made to start a boat club, but none of these got beyond the talking stage until F. G. Maunsell initiated the moves which led to the founding of the present club in the autumn of 1931.
Much of the material published in this account of the early days of the club has been obtained from former members, press accounts and club records; but among the last mentioned only those for 1931-1942 have survived. Indeed, it would not have been possible to have compiled the saga of rowing at Queen’s without the willing co-operation of scores of former members who have taken endless trouble either in answering the author’s queries or in providing constructive criticism of the text. If he attempted to name all those who have helped him, the list would run into several pages; nevertheless, this in no way detracts from his grateful thanks for their assistance.
Finally, the author and all those who have been involved in the compilation of this manuscript wish to thank Eamonn Doherty of Lady Victoria Boat Club for undertaking its duplication, and Margaret Pritchard for producing an excellent type-script of “Rowing at Queen’s from 1864 to 1951”.
D. B. McNeill, President, Queen’s University Boat Club, March 1987