Robert Ernest Bridges MBE

I joined PCRC in 1977 and although I believed I was technically “ok” at rowing I didn’t have the strength to pull the skin off a rice pudding so I knew I was never going to progress. It was with this realisation that I turned to coaching and it was Bob who encouraged me to take courses and attend as many workshops and seminars as I could. It was Bob that told me “you may think you know rowing ……. but you don’t! study from those that are coaching National Crews and learn from them”. It was Bob who also encouraged me to take the Bronze and Silver level coaching courses run by the then Amateur Rowing Association.

In 1985 I was stepping down after serving two years as Captain. Bob approached me and said he felt he and I had a similar passion and that was to try and raise the standard of rowing at PCRC so crews would compete competitively at the major competitions and the best place to start with that aim was with juniors. Bob said he would stand as Captain after me if I took on the role of Junior Coordinator, a newly created position at the Club, and we would work together to build the junior section of the Club. Bob was dually elected and we began to implement “the plan”.

Coming to the end of Bob’s term as Captain he and I went to Birmingham to see a small exhibition on Gym equipment but the main aim was to see and try out the Rowing Machine that was, at that time, new to the market. This was the first version of the Concept Ergo which those of an age will remember comprised of a bicycle wheel with fins to create resistance.

Unknown to us Concept were unvailing the next version of the Ergo which had a wheel similar to that which we see on todays ergo’s. 

Bob said it was a must, an ideal aid for training especially during the winter period, and it was an ideal aid to help coach technique. Before we left the exhibition Bob had placed an order for the Mark 2 Concept telling me he would gain approval from the Committee retrospectively! Delivery of the Mark 2 was a few months whereas the Mark 1 was immediate but he knew the Mark 2 was a better machine and agreed to the longer lead time.

However, it came to my knowledge that some in the Club were not keen on this new training aid and said it was a waste of money and they would get the order cancelled once Bob’s tenure as Captain was over. I told Bob of the whisperings and typical of Bob he said “they haven’t a clue” and immediately changed the order to the Mark 1 Ergo which was delivered in a few days.

Bob said that once people used the Ergo they will see first hand what he could see, and thought was obvious, and predicted that in a short period of time there would be a row of these machines at the Club ….. the rest is history; and thankfully the Mark 1 Ergo with the “deadly” bicycle wheel was replaced very quickly! 

It is always good to have someone to confide in and bounce ideas and Bob for me was always an understanding confidant – we didn’t always agree but did so more often that not, especially when it came to juniors of PCRC.

I think it fair to say “the plan” implimented in the early 1980’s has been delivered and continues to grow ……… Well done Bob, you’ll be missed.


Steve Casey

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