INTREPID rowers took to the water for nearly ten hours as they raised funds for a restoration project.

Some 16 members of Southend Coastal Rowing Club, Lower Thames Rowing Club and the Royal Anglian Regiment Association powered down the 42.5-mile stretch of the Thames, from Eastern Esplanade, in Southend, to the Olympic Park, in Stratford, East London.

The cash raised, which is estimated to be in the region of £5,000, will go towards the Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust in its mission to restore two century-old RNLI lifeboats.

These were built by the Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding Company and will be moored at the Olympic Stadium once they are restored, which by that time will be the new home of West Ham United – successor to the Thames Ironworks’ own team.

Pat O’Connor, 49, of Leonard Road, Westcliff, is chairman of the Southend Coastal Rowing Club and got involved because of his love of the Hammers.

He said: “I’m a West Ham fan and there are strong historical links between the club and Thames Ironworks, which was a big shipbuilding company before its demise in 1908, because their football team eventually became West Ham United.

“We had a lot of backing from the club, but also a lot of support from local yacht clubs.

“With the nice weather it was a brilliant day, but it was tiring.

“We were rowing from 7.30am to about 5.30pm and I lost half a stone.”

The rowers took on the challenge on Saturday, taking them nine hours and 56 minutes.

The boats were driven back to Southend by the Essex Land Rover Club.