A registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (Charity Registration Number 1170349) based in Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, Kingfisher Canoe Club is a friendly Club with few rules whose members paddle for enjoyment. Kingfisher was formed in 1974 as an club for over-18’s. In late 2016 Kingfisher formally merged with its sister organisation Pathfinder Youth Canoe Club. Now known as the Pathfinders Youth Section it provides progressive development canoe and kayaking activities for the 11-18 age group.
A lot of regular paddling happens in the Abingdon/Sutton Courtenay area. Throughout the year we paddle from the club hut in Abingdon, Wednesday evenings around 6.20pm in summer (late May to October) and 9am on Sundays in winter (October to May). Sunday morning paddles do occur through the summer but not as regularly. In addition to the local paddling of the Thames and its weirs and backwaters there are indoor pool sessions in winter and a number of annual trips to rivers further afield. Rivers in Dartmoor, Wales and Scotland are regularly paddled.
There are also a numerous ‘ad-hoc’ trips arranged by members during the year such as canoe surfing, and trips to various rivers in the UK and further afield. There aren’t many parts of the world that a member of KCC haven’t paddled and the general rule of thumb is that if you fancy paddling somewhere new or exotic, just ask. Someone in the club is bound to of been there or fancy joining you in your adventure.
In 1989, a club for youngsters, the Pathfinders, was founded by a few local canoeists. The two clubs have retained their individual identities and have different functions and aims. However, they work together to provide facilities for canoeing in Abingdon for people of all ages. Most of the adult instructors in the Pathfinders are individual members of KCC in their own right.Pathfinders Youth Section
Kingfisher Canoe Club (KCC) was founded in the Spring of 1974, and within 12 months had attracted a membership of 30 adults, acquired a formal constitution, affiliated to the British Canoe Union (BCU, the national governing body) and found a river-side base with the Sea Cadets at their centre in Wilsham Road. From the start, the Club was for adults and relied on its own resources – mainly annual subscriptions. The Club ran successfully from the Sea Cadet Headquarters for the next 12 years or so, organising national canoe slaloms at Abingdon weir pool, training courses to BCU standards, local and away day and weekend events for members and annual trips to Scotland and the continent. Following the sale for residential development of the Sea Cadet site by the Council in 1986/7, the Club found itself homeless and for the next four years, operated from local car parks with a canoe store at Rye Farm. Despite this obvious handicap, the Club continued to prosper and run events, courses and trips.
In early 2016 the club was informed that it would need to find a new home after operating from this site for over 25 years, beginning a search that covered over 30 possible locations and lasted until 2020.
In 2021 however the club proudly opened its new club hut, comprising a larger boat store and adding changing facilities, on Abingdon lock island. Ideally located near Abingdon weir for those who wish to play or develop their white water skills and with access up and downstream on the Thames for longer, flatter trips this makes it a great place to try kayaking, open canoeing and stand up paddleboarding. It also offers the chance to explore Swift Ditch, once the primary route of the Thames, and the River Ock, with features such as Tesco Trolley Falls and The Ock Weir.
The new facility was only made possible through the generous support in time and funds from our members and organisations that included The National Lottery / Sport England, The River Legacy Fund, Christ’s Hospital Abingdon, The Environment Agency, Thames Water, Hogan Lovells Solicitors (London) as well as the many smaller donors who are listed by the hut entrance. We are also grateful to the local press and people of Abingdon, whose supportkept our spirits up during the long and winding road to the opening of the new site in September 2021. (For a short video showing the build of the new hut click here).
Today, we are again a thriving, vivacious community club with paddling taking place almost every day during the Spring and Summer months. This includes SUP and open canoe, as well as whitewater, flat water and occasional sea kayaking. We run an extensive range of courses and trips, thanks to our dedicated band of qualified volunteer coaches and leaders, and have many peer paddling activities organised by members.
If you are interested in learning more or considering joining the club please get in touch!