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The traditional spelling of its name was Row, but it was changed in the 1920s so that outsiders would pronounce it correctly. The name derives from the Scots Gaelic rudha meaning 'point'.
It lies north-west of the town of Helensburgh on the Firth of Clyde, in the historic county of Argyll & Bute. Like many settlements in the area, it became fashionable in the 19th century as a residence for wealthy Glasgow shipowners and merchants.
Rhu and Shandon Parish Church dates from 1851 and stands on the site of an 18th-century predecessor. Amongst those buried in the kirkyard is Henry Bell, whose Comet was the world's first commercially successful steamship. In 1851 the marine engineer Robert Napier built the statue which today marks Bell's grave.
Famously a Theological controversy took place in Rhu known as the "Row Heresy", involving the Church of Scotland minister John McLeod Campbell who began to teach doctrines contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith and was subsequently thrown out of the ministry in May 1831.
Rhu is a base for yachting. It includes a point, just opposite another point near Rosneath, which forms what is known as either the "Rhu Narrows" or the "Rosneath Narrows" at the mouth of the Gare Loch. Locals call it the "spit" (they say that before dredging it was possible to do this across the water). The loch would have been cut off and a lagoon formed if the "longshore drift" was allowed to occur naturally. Groynes prevent this from happening.
Rhu Amateur Football Club have been in existence since 1896, they played Garelochead on January 1 that year.
Rhu Amateur Football Club won the Scottish Amateur Cup in 1967. They played the final at Hampden Park Glasgow beating Penilee 3-1 after being behind 0-1 at half time. The goalscorers being Neil (Pony) Walsh who scored two and one from Barry Irvine.
Rhu was the birthplace of Peter McNeil (1854–1901), a Scottish footballer who along with brother Moses (October 29, 1855, in Rhu, Argyll and Bute – April 9, 1938, in Dumbarton), was one of the founding members of Glasgow Rangers Football Club. He made seven Scottish cup appearances for the club. Rhu is also the birthplace of Peter Campbell (born late 1850s in Rhu, Argyll and Bute; died January 1883) who was also a Scottish footballer and one of the four founding members of Glasgow Rangers Football Club. He made 24 Scottish Cup appearances for Rangers and scored 15 goals.
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