PAT BRADY has always loved the river. The 66-year-old from Loudwater Road, Lower Sunbury, spent the majority of his working life on and around the Thames and its tributaries.
He also met his wife, Christine, when they were both members of Dittons Skiff and Punting Club.
And the fact that the couple were both active members of a rowing club gives a clue to their current interest in exploring the history of Pat’s family, which has links back to some of the earliest competitive rowers in the country.
Pat talks enthusiastically about his research.
“My parents were also members of the Ditton club,” he recalls, “and they really encouraged my interest in the family’s background.
“My great-grandfather was John George Walker – known affectionately as ‘JG’ – who was one of the founder members of the London Rowing Club, one of the oldest on the Thames.
“He was a member of the crew which won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley in 1868 so he was obviously something of a star at the time.”
There are links to the river and the sea running throughout Pat’s family. His grandfather served on clipper ships, in the Merchant Navy and the Royal Naval Reserve and although his dad, George Brady, was a solicitor, he was also a keen rower, turning out for Kingston RC during his prime.
When Pat came to choose his own career path, it was as an engineer but it’s probably no surprise to learn that he took that engineering expertise on to the river by joining the Thames Conservancy in 1973.
Initially, he worked on a number of Thames tributaries organising the clearing of silt, and maintaining the drainage for agricultural purposes.
Pat’s employers changed their names over the years – from the Thames Conservancy to Thames Water, then to the National Rivers Authority and finally to the Environment Agency – but he maintained his interest in the Thames throughout.
“Working with the river has always been a vocation for me,” he says. “It’s not a well-paid job, but it does require a high level of skill and I’ve always had the highest regard for the teams I worked with over the years. They were all very dedicated people who really cared for the river.”
One of the biggest projects Pat worked on was overseeing the construction of the Molesey ‘C’ weir from 1985 to 1988.
Since his retirement in 2006, Pat has been able to devote more time to his research on his family’s rowing history. The chart of his family tree now contains dozens of names and it is amazing how many of his relatives have been involved with the boat-racing fraternity.
And even now, Pat and Christine maintain a regular interest in rowing, helping to organise Sunbury regatta.
Good luck with your ongoing research, Pat.