A rowing club formed by coal miners has taken part in a celebrated regatta for the first time in its 103-year history.
Cambois Rowing Club, based on the River Wansbeck at Ashington, was formed in 1911 by miners, with bosses believing they are unique in this respect.
And for the first time in its history a crew from the club has taken part in the Henley Royal Regatta, said to be the best known event of its kind in the world and one of the highlights of both the summer sporting calendar and the social season.
The annual event on the River Thames was established in 1839, and attracts crews from around the world to compete in head-to-head races over a mile long course, with crews from Australia, America, Japan and Germany taking part.
The team which took part is Josh Dixon, 22, from Pegswood, who is soon to spend a year coaching rowing in New Zealand, Cameron Harrison, 20, who works on a farm near Alnwick, Jamie McCarron, a 19 year old groundsman at Linden Hall who lives at Stakeford, and Jamie Young, 21, also from Stakeford and who works in a restaurant.
The coxless four reached the regatta having taken part in a recent qualifying event at an Olympic venue.
Yesterday the crew took part in the 2,000m Wyfold Challenge Cup, in which they were the only North East crew, competing against a team from Nottingham.
Jamie, who has been rowing for eight years, said: “It is very overwhelming.
“Down here rowing is a lot bigger than it is up North. We are walking around and it is like the Land of the Giants, you have got all these tall men and we are like short Northerners!
“We did not really think it was possible to row down here. The level after this will be international. It is only recently we have clicked as a crew and went faster and faster.
“We went down to the Met (qualifying venue) and on the first day we raced, we expected to come fifth. We were sitting second. We went out and smashed it.”
Club head coach Barrie Hanley, who has been involved in rowing at Cambois for 60 years, trained three of the quartet having got them into the sport on his regular profile raising trips to local schools.
He said: “I am very proud of them. They are exceptional. They had to qualify against the best crews in country. They got one of the fastest times.”
Mr Hanley said of the club: “We are a unique club in that we were formed by coal miners, there is not another club in the country that has formed by coal miners.
“People came out of the pits in early 1900s and started rowing. It is a unique club in that respect.”
The club has a team competing in the national championships later this month.
Mr Hanley said: “We do row against the best in the county: Eton, Radley, St Paul’s colleges, all those schools on the Thames.”
Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said “I do hope that everyone will join me and support each of our rowers. It is really exceptional that Cambois Rowing Club gets a chance to row along with the best at Henley Royal Regatta.
“I realise that this is a first time that Cambois has been picked for this royal event and my heartfelt support is with them.”