History of Manchester Canoe Club

Manchester Canoe Club was formed at an inaugural meeting in May 1933, which was attended by seven people. It was initially a section of the British Canoe Association, which in turn was a part of the Camping Club of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This was 3 years before the British Canoe Union (the current governing body) was formed.

Touring, including canoe camping, was the main activity of early MCC members, who quickly gained a reputation for the Club as the premier wild water club in the country. Until personal transport started to become popular in the 1950’s, folding boats, consisting of a wooden frame with a canvas or rubber covering, dominated the sport. Rigid fabric or plywood became popular before the arrival of glass fibre.

Slalom appeared on the scene in 1939, and MCC has always been a pioneering club for this branch of the sport. Over the years MCC has produced many national champions, as well as many successes at international level. Wild Water Racing has developed alongside slalom, and although the club has been just as involved in promoting the sport, it has never proved as popular with club members.

In the late 60’s it was thought that the club would benefit from the use of a permanent canoeing site, and in 1969, after much searching, the present Marple site was first used for a mini-slalom. The following year agreement was reached for regular use, but we could negotiate no more than a yearly lease. Initially a caravan was used as a temporary clubhouse. Failure to obtain a long lease meant that plans to build a permanent clubhouse had to be abandoned, and in 1974 a WW2 nissen hut was erected on the site. This was to be in service for the next 30 years.

Efforts continued to find a more permanent site, and it was not until 1988 that we succeeded in negotiating a 7 year lease. In 1992, a further breakthrough in negotiations meant that purchase of the site was possible, and this was achieved with the help of a grant from the Foundation for Sports and Arts. Plans were prepared for a new clubhouse to replace the hut and an application made to Sports England for a grant towards construction. Funding was approved in February 2002 and construction was completed in August 2003.

The Maurice Rothwell Trust

Maurice Rothwell joined MCC in the late 1930’s and was an active paddler for many years. Despite the fact that canoeing was really his second interest (the first being rowing - with Agecroft Rowing Club), he devoted much of his life to MCC and canoeing generally. This was especially so after he sold his brewery (‘‘Rothwell’s’’) around 1970 so that he could concentrate his efforts on canoeing and rowing.

Maurice was elected Honorary Secretary in 1946, a post he held until becoming President in 1981. In addition to the usual secretarial duties, he also acted as Membership Secretary, Newsletter Producer, Slalom Organiser etc. Outside MCC he served on BCU Council, was Secretary and then Chairman of the BCU Slalom Committee, and was heavily involved in negotiating access to rivers, particularly on the Welsh Dee.

During his life Maurice gave a lot to canoeing and clearly wished for this to continue after his death (in October 1992). The major beneficiaries to his will were MCC, the BCU and Agecroft Rowing Club. MCC’s share is one sixth of the total, and is in the form of a trust fund from which we receive a yearly income, the details of which are shown in the annual accounts.

Past Achievements

National Slalom Champions (K1)


1954 Keith White
1960 Julian Shaw
1968 Ken Langford
1972 Ray Calverley
1974 Ray Calverley
1976 Martin Peters
1999 Paul Ratcliffe
2001 Paul Ratcliffe
2002 Paul Ratcliffe


1952 Kathleen Toothill
1964 Jean Battersby and Leslie Calverley (tied)
1975 Julia Harling
1976 Julia Harling
1977 Julia Harling
1999 Heather Corrie

World Events (K1)

1963 World Championship Team Bronze Medal Martin Rohleder
1969 World Championship Team Silver Medal Ray Calverley, Ken Langford & John MacLeod
1983 World Championship Team Gold Medal Jim Dolan
1986 Junior World Championship Bronze Medal Heather Corrie
1999 Silver Medal Paul Ratcliffe
1999 World Cup Gold Medal Paul Ratcliffe
2000 Olympics Silver Medal Paul Ratcliffe
2001 Pre-World Championship Gold Medal Heather Corrie
2002 European Championship Gold Medal Paul Ratcliffe

Additional information