Henley Standard Property


Order your copy Advertise with us! HENLEY PAGES
Delivering the news from Henley on Thames and South Oxfordshire for over 100 years
  News     Sport    Celebrity   What's On Regulars Community Info Henley Standard TV Lifestyle Property Jobs Classifieds Gallery Trade
                               Follow us    Follow us    Newsfeed Search the Henley Standard  
‘Fixer’ who helped found the River and Rowing Museum
Published 12/09/11

DAVID LUNN- ROCKLIFFE, one of the founders of the River and Rowing Museum, died of heart failure on Tuesday, August 23 at the age of 86.

When he retired as executive secretary of the Amateur Rowing Association in 1987, he devoted his energy to raising money to establish a rowing museum in Henley.

He and I, at that time the rowing correspondent of The Guardian, hatched the idea when I returned from Los Angeles in 1984 inspired by an Olympic rowing exhibition to find that David was frustrated by his inability to deal with historical questions that landed on his desk.

We sounded out some museum people and formed a committee of rowers with professional skills and set about finding a site and raising funds. The rowing museum idea rapidly expanded to embrace the river and the town as well.

Over the next few years David took the helm as we negotiated a site out of Henley Town Council, engaged an unknown architect by the name of David Chipperfield to design a building, obtained planning permission and found generous sponsors in Martyn Arbib of Perpetual and Urs Schwarzenbach.

The Queen opened the museum in November 1998 and before the end of 1999 it had collected the museum of the year award, the building of the year award, two visitor attraction awards, two Royal Institute of British Architects awards and an American Institute of Architects commendation for excellence in design.

Born on December 28, 1924, David Lunn-Rockliffe was the youngest son of an English father and Swiss mother. He was raised near Winchester, where his father was a doctor, and went to school at Stowe. He served in Burma during the Second World War with the Worcestershire Regiment before reading land economy at Jesus College, Cambridge.

His working life began as a dairy farmer in Hampshire after which he joined the Institute for Corn and Agricultural Merchants as a development officer.

His love of travel manifested itself in organising study tours for farmers to China and elsewhere.

In 1976, he took the post of director-secretary of the ARA, now called British Rowing, and transformed it from a volunteer-led governing body that was under-manned and under-funded into a professional outfit with paid staff.

He also worked for Goodwood Estates and his own company manufacturing specialist paints before taking on the mantle of the River and Rowing Museum.

During his watch at the ARA, the association organised the world rowing championships in Nottingham in 1986, introduced televised sprint racing, championed women’s rowing, celebrated its centenary with a procession of boats through London that inspired the annual Great River Race, dipped in and out of funding crises and began to attract significant sponsorship from the likes of NatWest Bank, Mobil and British Home Stores and added individual registration with a members’ magazine to what was previously a federation of clubs and regattas.

Lunn-Rockliffe also founded the Rowing Foundation, a charity to support juniors and education causes in the sport.

Most of the problem solving for each stage of the realisation of the museum rested on his shoulders while others got on with designing the galleries and building collections.

He was a fixer. He found Jonathan Bryant to get the whole thing up in time and the present chief executive officer, Paul Mainds, to develop its education role and take its annual visitor numbers beyond the 100,000 threshold.

Lunn-Rockliffe was blessed with a priceless mixture of qualities — effervescent enthusiasm for education, arts, religion, politics and, above all, ideas — and eternal patience of one who knows when to strike.

He was also an extremely good listener. He spent a lot of time probing what makes things tick and arranging off-the-record briefings with anybody who might bring something to the table.

That was how I met him, having my journalistic brains picked about any aspect of rowing from competition to governance.

Those skills he brought to the creation of the River and Rowing Museum but he possessed another attribute.

When there were corridors and galleries, there was laughter rolling through them. He was skilful at bringing out the best in people and reconciling differences to reach a positive end. There are, I am sure, architects, planners, builders, quantity surveyors, curators, bankers, town councillors, politicians and probably paper boys who can testify to that.

There was, of course, another side to David. He scattered stuff about, had the handwriting of a GP and mislaid keys, telephone numbers, important papers, spectacles, coats and brief cases on a daily basis but his charm and humour served to encourage others to help him overcome this affliction.

He married Elizabeth Capron in 1950 and they settled in Wimbledon before moving to Surbiton. When she contracted motor neurone disease they moved to Exeter to be closer to family and he cared for her brilliantly.

After her death in 2001 he created a wild flower garden in her memory in their local churchyard. He is succeeded by their daughters, Caroline, Susan, Claire, Victoria and Nicola, 11 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Published 12/09/11

Shopkeeper apologises for 'cheeky' sign
Deck could be solution to parking shortage
Shop closes after 13 years in Henley
Tragic death ruled as misadventure
Barber who started out cutting his friends' hair
Men charged after assaulting police officers
Swiss Farm wins national award
Adam Ant to play at Rewind 2016
Millie's Dream delivers 40th defibrillator
Free cream teas courtesy of Tesco
Deck could be solution to parking shortage
Prospect of flower market at Chelsea Fringe
Legless Rowers enter record books
81-year-old Henley woman arrested in connection with shooting death
Hospital watchdog chairman unseated
Royal Berks A&E 'only for emergencies'
House fire tackled in Nettlebed
Swiss Farm wins national award
Classroom unveiled by Bishop of Dorchester
Men charged after assaulting police officers
Latest Video View more from   Henley Standard TV
Hawks prepare for change
Endurance race returns for second year
Vikings conquer at Abingdon
Four goals put Red Kites in seventh heaven
Tidwell at the double on his debut
Top Videos
Most Popular
Higgs Group
Tel: 01491 419400
Tel: 01491 419419
Tel: 01491 419429
Tel: 01491 419499
Tel: 01491 419449
HIGGS GROUP, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1AD.

Cookie Policy | Copyright and Terms | Competition Rules | Contact Us | Advertise with us | Site Map
© Higgs & Co (Printers) Limited 2013  |  Registered in England number 1418717