Newport Boating Club
In existence from 1866, Newport’s rowing club was, in terms of membership, very quickly one of the biggest and most active in the village. The club continued as the Newport Boating Club until the 1920s. Membership of the club was badly affected during World War I with the loss of several members. The boat club had a boat shed and slipway on the east side of Big Rock, and James Scrymgeour remembered that on summer evenings “there were always young fellows down there messing about with their boats”.
Like the swimming club galas, boat club regattas were held annually, although in the early years there had been two regattas, one held in the autumn. In the 1870s the regatta had been contested by a crew of young engineers employed in the building of the first Tay railway bridge. Races in the regattas were from Big Rock to half-way to Woodhaven Pier. Crews came from Broughty Ferry, Dundee and Arbroath. The Mars training ship sent a crew and the local Boys’ Brigade entered their boat. On these special days, local confectioners took advantage of the crowds and set up their ice cream barrows and stalls with brightly coloured awnings, which often stretched from the High Street to Robert Street. The Mars boys’ band would play throughout the afternoon, grouped around the fountain.
The boating club also organised annual outings, very often a cruise up-river on a chartered steamboat. In 1896 they cruised to Bridge of Earn. Tea was served on deck, and some time was spent ashore when a group photograph was taken. On the return sail of three hours, an impromptu concert was enjoyed. Another highlight of the club year was the annual procession, when as many boats as possible gathered to parade across the river and along the Dundee shore.