A Brief History of
North Kessock Rowing Club
North Kessock is a small coastal village on the north coast of the Beauly Firth, on the south side of the Black Isle. It used to be the north terminal of the Kessock Ferry whose boats plied their trade, between North Kessock and Inverness up until 1982, when the Kessock Bridge was opened. North Kessock then became a much quieter village, with the A9 traffic by-passing it altogether.
North Kessock is a small coastal village on the north coast of the Beauly Firth, on the south side of the Black Isle. It used to be the north terminal of the Kessock Ferry whose boats plied their trade, between North Kessock and Inverness up until 1982, when the Kessock Bridge was opened. North Kessock then became a much quieter village, with the A9 traffic by-passing it altogether. A scheme was devised to try to get all villagers ‘pulling together’ in harmony as before. It was noticed that every village on the Black Isle except North Kessock, had one thing in common; they each had a coastal rowing club. Even Strathpeffer which is 5 miles from the sea, had a boat.
At the end of September 2022, a post was put into the Residents Association of North Kessock Facebook page asking if indeed anybody was interested in forming a club. The response was outstanding with over seventy ‘likes’, so it looked like a green light was given to go ahead. On the 27th of September a Rowing Group Facebook was started and agreement was made to go ahead and hold an inaugural meeting in the village hall on the 12th October 2022. Thirty three villagers turned up to hear about proposals and to listen to the convenor of The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, who gave an interesting presentation on skiff rowing. With the obvious enthusiasm, it was decided that we form a local rowing club. A steering committee from nine volunteers was formed with the remit of getting the show on the road. The priorities identified were fundraising, attaining charity status and acquiring a boat.
The decision on the boat was that we were not in any position to build a skiff from a kit on our own. We had no boat building expertise, no tools, nowhere to build it and most importantly, we wanted to get a boat operational by Easter 2023. A second hand skiff was found at Cullen Sea School, but when it came to inspecting the craft, we were informed that it had just been sold. They did however have the keel laid on a brand new skiff, and if we wanted it, they would put our name on it. They also wanted £1000 deposit, and gave us three weeks to come up with the cash. Fundraising kicked in, and with the income from a pub quiz on the 18th November, several donations and a couple of loans, we scraped the deposit together. A very kind retired chartered accountant produced a constitution and submitted our application for charity status to OSCR. This was granted just before Christmas 2022; a lovely Christmas present. The steering committee became Trustees of the Board of the charity SCI052215 at this point. Our treasurer fought tooth and nail with the bank, and eventually opened a bank account just after New Year.
We were readily given advice from our neighbouring clubs, Avoch CCRC in particular, and also from SCRA (Scottish Coastal Rowing Association). A website was constructed courtesy of Adder Business, insurance was taken out, and rules and regulations were devised. One of the board members submitted a claim to The National Lottery, and we received a grant of £7,500 to buy our boat. The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation came up trumps and bought our trailer for us. Several local businesses donated and with the financial boost from another pub quiz, we were on a roll. The name for our boat was taken from the Facebook page, in which suggestions were in abundant supply. The most popular by quite a bit was Eilean Dubh (Gaelic for Black Isle). This was particularly relevant as one of the last two active car ferries was called Eilean Dubh. After several set-backs with the trailer supplier, we collected our skiff from Cullen in April and took it covertly to a beach near North Kessock, so that the board members could practice without public scrutiny.
The official launch was set for 13th May; the honours being conducted by Mrs Margaret MacDonald, a lifelong resident of North Kessock. We half expected about twenty to thirty folk to turn up, but were amazed to see 200 – 300 people witness our joyous occasion. Two skiffs from Avoch, a skiff from Burghead, and also the North Kessock Lifeboat launched to wish us good luck. This was indeed a happy event as we had originally hoped it would be. Today, the North Kessock Rowing Club, SCI052215 is flourishing with over 40 paid up members enjoying the benefits of getting out on the water, and most importantly, having fun. Another boat, who knows???