IT has a been a hotbed for rowing talent since it first opened its doors in 1846, and now Scotland's oldest open amateur rowing club is looking to the future with a new £1 million boathouse in Edinburgh.

Former Olympic gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger will be the guest of honour at the St Andrew Boat Club (SABC) today as she officially opens the sports hub.

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Organisers hope that the development, which has been a decade in the making, will enable the 176-year-old club to live up to its slogan, “Rowing for all”, by offering opportunities to many more athletes of all ages in the coming years.

The club currently has around 140 members, with active rowers ranging in age from 13 to 82, who mainly train on the 1500-metre stretch of the Union Canal.

HeraldScotland: A view of the old Hermiston boathouse, used by the club during the first half of the 20th centuryA view of the old Hermiston boathouse, used by the club during the first half of the 20th century

The new facility replaces an existing boathouse used since 1984, which was no longer fit for purpose.

SABC president Sarah Whitley said: “After over a decade of planning, this is a great moment in the club’s proud 175-year history.

"The new facilities will be a game changer for us and allow us to offer many more opportunities for people to experience rowing on the Union Canal.

"Our ambition is to build the best club in Scotland, in terms of supporting top-class performance but also giving people from all backgrounds the chance to try out rowing. The new boathouse will help us do that.”

HeraldScotland: An SABC crew on the canal, 1938An SABC crew on the canal, 1938

The new boathouse sits adjacent to the club’s current home at Meggetland on the Union Canal, and hosts space for dozens of boats, as well as changing facilities and social space.

The landmark build was financed through fundraising initiatives by club members – from a 16-hour non-stop row by the club’s junior coordinator, to a 75-mile cycle by a member who is aged 75, to the sale of boathouse bricks and foundation stones.

The development, which sits on land leased from Edinburgh City Council, was also supported through investment from sportscotland and donations from charitable trusts.

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Six-time rowing world champion Dame Katherine will cut the ribbon to the new boathouse today, and the first boat - named in her honour - will be carried into its new home by club members.

The former Olympian and chair of UK Sport will then go on a tour of the new facilities, which also include 20 indoor rowing machines.

HeraldScotland: A group of rower circa1890, believed to be posing outside the club's original boathouse between the Leamington and Viewforth bridgesA group of rower circa1890, believed to be posing outside the club's original boathouse between the Leamington and Viewforth bridges

Glasgow-born Dame Katherine, who is one of the UK’s most successful Olympians of all time with one gold and four silver medals, is an honorary member of SABC, having actively rowed for the club and represented the club throughout her Olympic career.

Generations of rowers have since aspired to follow in her footsteps, and many have honed their skills in her namesake boat.

The club has produced many international class athletes, and has been going from strength to strength, with members representing Scotland and GB at junior and senior level.

HeraldScotland: The new boathouse, pictured earlier this month, which will officially open todayThe new boathouse, pictured earlier this month, which will officially open today

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said: “We are delighted to provide investment to St Andrew Boat Club to enable them to create a boathouse that not only reflects their proud history, but also means they can build on the success of the club and offer more and better opportunities for participation.

"Projects like this demonstrate the importance of clubs to communities, to the development of the sport of rowing, and to supporting athletes on their sporting journey, at every level.”