15 members of a local boys club founded the Royal Leamington Spa canoe club in 1954 as the canoe section was dominating the clubs activities. They acquired a cow shed under a local railway bridge in Princess Drive to use as a clubhouse.
During the mid 1960s club membership was around 45. The club acquired an ex-scout hut and the local council found them a derelict site on the river Leam.
As membership increased to 80-90 members during 1971, the present club building an old fire station on the banks on the river Leam was acquired. Rented under a short-term lease from the local council, the building was refurbished internally by the club members, working together to accommodate changing rooms and boat racks.
In 1986 a group was formed to offer canoeing to people with disabilities. Boats and skills were acquired to enable both physically challenged and those with learning difficulties, equal access to the sport. This group still runs today on a weekly basis and also offers activity holidays with other activities such as archery, rock climbing and abseiling.
In 1997 Leamington Spa was host to 'Amikaro' an international scout jamboree, with over 2000 scouts from all over the globe. One of the many activities available to them was canoeing which was based and run by our club. In 6 days over 650 scouts were introduced to canoeing.
During 1997 due to the poor state of the roof and the overall building, major repairs where made. This was funded with most of the clubs funds, local council funding and a grant from yourselves. This left the club on a sound footing with a 25-year lease and a membership in excess of 100 members.
Freak conditions in 1998 produced floodwater 14 ft above normal levels. Reports on the radio warned motorists to keep clear of Warwickshire for at least the next 48 hours. All four bridges in Leamington and Warwick were closed and the bottom of the town was devastated by floodwater. Water levels inside the club building reached 3ft, crushing boats in their racks and leaving a layer of sewage polluted silt everywhere. Boats stored out side were washed down stream and either lost forever or damaged beyond repair. The clubs pulled together as a unit and members spent many weeks cleaning the building and repairing equipment.
As well as providing the pleasures of "messing about on the river", the club has strong roots in the competitive disciplines of flat-water racing and slalom. It has a proud history of international success, having produced a constant stream of paddlers who have represented their country at the highest level. The club focuses on developing the potential of young paddlers and currently boasts a small group of juniors who have already gained international honours.
On the competition front the club runs an annual, successful and nationally recognized marathon race, which on several occasions has had the privilege of hosting a selection event for the GB team. Also for the first time this year the club successfully ran a division 4 ranking slalom.
Many courses are run for local scout, guide, school and D of E groups and members of the general public who wish to try the sport. The club membership currently stands at over 100 including affiliated school and scout groups. The club runs weekly swimming pool sessions which provide a safe environment to introduce new paddlers to the sport and the opportunity for more experienced paddlers to practice advanced skills under the close supervision of qualified coaches. There are also regular organized sessions held on the river aimed at both adult and junior recreational paddlers.