Rowing home: Stepnell completes boat house for leading girls' school

Rowing home: Stepnell completes boat house for leading girls' school

ENVIRONMENT, leisure and joinery specialists at complete construction partner, Stepnell, have completed the build of Maddy Moorings boathouse for Headington School in Oxfordshire. The new facilities will enhance the independent girl's day and boarding school's ability to develop rowing talent - home to one of the UK’s top school boat clubs.

Stepnell has built the new state-of-the-art two-storey boathouse on the river Thames, in Long Wittenham, south of Abingdon. Designed by project architects Spratley & Partners, the boathouse can accommodate storage for up to 50 rowing boats.

Ian Batchelor, contracts manager at Stepnell, said: “Maddy Moorings boathouse has been an intricate project to provide modern and sustainable rowing facilities. The build is equally world-class in specification, but also built with methods and materials of construction that were not disruptive to the local biodiversity during the build, nor will be in the long-term to the ecosystem along the river.

“With the school being one of the UK’s top educational institutions for rowing, we are proud to have used our leisure expertise to deliver sporting infrastructure that will contribute significant lasting value to the schools’ future successes.”

The location and configuration of the boathouse were carefully designed to minimise impact on the site. Inside the building there is a large boat storage area, a multi-use training room and welfare facilities.

It will provide a first-class training facility for the school’s high achieving rowing team for years to come.

The low-maintenance, energy-efficient boathouse, elevated on 60 steel columns includes an indoor communal area, with an accompanying balcony overlooking the river for spectating. Boats can be accessed and carried via three bespoke double doors opening up to a large staircase, all designed and built by Stepnell’s dedicated joinery team.

Completing the boathouse externally is a comprehensive package, including a stunning timber façade, river pontoons which rise and fall and a wet dock area. The wildflower roof proudly boasts biological variability. Enhanced road access routes, additional parking spaces and new surface water drainage have also been installed to improve the accessibility and usability of the site.

Bringing in expertise from ecologists at the Environment Agency, Stepnell ensured that any key environmental concerns would be identified and addressed before building along the Thames. This included undertaking flood risk management, identifying the presence of water voles and ensuring the protection of trees, bats, and nesting birds.

To find out more about Stepnell, visit, or join in the conversation at @Stepnellltd.

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