The Boathouse

History of The Boathouse

           For over 100 years the much-loved Boathouse has played a role in the social life of Nelson citizens. Friendships have formed, young people have learned about boats & many a couple has met & later married here. It is a legacy that continues to this day.
           In 1906 the current building was erected by Nelson Rowing Club, later shared with & then purchased by the Nelson Sea Scout Troop.  From the 1940’s the building was one of Nelson’s main dance venues and a band played to a packed dance hall every Saturday night, being an important source of revenue for the clubs. Suppers were of oysters & crayfish & talcum powder was scattered on the floor to aid dancing but in high tides the boards still got wet!
          By the 1960’s the dance era was over & the income was depleted but the building needed major repairs. When the Harbour Board offered a site at the new reclamation on Akersten Street, it was too good a deal to refuse & the rowers & sea scouts moved out.
         With the building about to be washed away in the next storm the Sea Scouts decided to sell & in 1985 twenty five Nelson residents raise the $25,000 needed to purchase the building and formed the Iron Duke Boat Club Society, later changing the name to The Boathouse Society.  A major fundraising & restoration project undertaken. Piles were replaced, the old boat & deck ramp removed, the front wall rebuilt and new deck constructed. Where possible original features were retained & old timber recycled. The Boathouse, as it is today, was born.
             The Society currently counts over 230 members. Bands play most Friday night bands & it has again become a popular place for weddings and functions. Once again The Boathouse plays an important role in the social life of Nelsonians – let the band play on!


We are always interested in any stories or photos you may have of the building. 


Heritage New Zealand Trust Category 2 & Nelson City Council Heritage Buildings Group A
Top Photo: Sea Scouts, c. 1939.  The Nelson Provincial Museum, Kingsford Collection: 163300