The History Of The Poole Yacht Club
Our history is a good part of what we become, a realisation of our humble beginnings reminds us to be thankful of what we now enjoy!
- Category: The History
In 1935 Col. Pierce called a meeting of members who decided that it was time to build a proper Clubhouse to provide better facilities. A new Committee was formed with Ken Morgan as Hon. Secretary. Don Farmer became Hon. Sailing Secretary and the local Bank Manager, a Mr Aubin, was elected Hon. Treasurer. Col. Pierce of course remained Commodore. The Committee decided to buy an old derelict cottage with its ground reaching back to the railway line and the sea.
The price paid was £125. Plans were drawn up by an architect member, Eric Elford, for a new building to be built on the site. The Bank advanced an overdraft of £1200 with the Commodore, Norman Hibbs and a few well known yachtsmen as Guarantors. The Club was then re-named 'The Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club'. The name Bournemouth being added in the hope of eventually attracting some Bournemouth businessmen who were friends and acquaintances of Norman Hibbs and so help with the additional finances. The first building which occupied part of the site of the old Clubhouse, consisted of changing rooms on the ground floor, a lounge bar above, and above that a small gun deck. Subscriptions were raised to 10/6d for gentlemen and 5/- for ladies. The building was completed in 1936 at a cost of £486 and was opened by the Mayor of Poole on August 29th that year. The mayor arrived by sea on board Col. Pierce's yacht 'Thordis' (a model of this motor yacht is still in the Club). A salute of 21 guns was made from the gun deck followed by another salute of 21 guns from the yacht! All yachts moored off the club and the Clubhouse itself were dressed overall, a remarkable sight. The Mayor of Bournemouth also attended together with other dignitaries.
A Steward was engaged to run the bar and was temporarily housed in the old cottage. However, this building was in a very bad state of repair and it became obvious after a while that the Clubhouse would have to be enlarged to provide accommodation for the Steward and also to cope with the growing increase of members which now had exceeded 450.
A new wing was added in 1938 comprising a billiard room adjoining the lounge with a steward's flat below.
The Sailing Committee decided that dinghy racing should be further encouraged by adopting a 'one design' dinghy class to provide level racing. Plans were drawn based on the International Snipe design with certain modifications. This class was known as the 'Hamworthy One Design' later shortened to Snipes. These were of 3/8" mahogany hard chine construction 16ft long. Six of these dinghies were built by R.A. Newman & Sons, the then famous boat building firm, their premises being opposite the Club now occupied by S.O.S. Total cost including sails and gear was £30! They were sold to individual Club Members and some very keen racing began. Don Farmer, the Hon Sailing Secretary who did so much for the Club sailing wise for so many years, encouraged and fostered the class to a great extent, and the fleet grew to over 20 boats at one time. One of the owners at the time was Ken Mooring-Aldridge who owned No 2. Ken is still a member today and ranks as our longest serving member, in fact a founder member of the Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club.
The Club continued to prosper, the membership rising to 600 and over. It was known locally as the 'Ham & Bone'.
- Category: The History
After the War ended, the sailing activities quickly began to get under way again. The dinghy class of Snipes steadily grew in number and once more the racing became very keen and competitive. Prominent names in this class at that time, and names still to be found on various trophies today, were John Shore, Peter Boon, Kim Lauder, Derek Hibbs, Peter Fletcher, Heather and Wendy Farmer and Eric Cake.
The young ladies, daughters of the Hon. Sailing Secretary, soon began to prove that dinghy racing was not confined to men. Cruiser racing began to become popular again and was much encouraged by the Commodore, Norman Hibbs. He persuaded owners of other cruisers and members of other Yacht Clubs to combine and race together. A cruiser Association was formed and Norman Hibbs became their first captain. This, of course, was the start of the present day Poole Yacht Racing Association or P.Y.R.A. as it is known today. Norman Hibbs was a controversial figure but undoubtedly made a great contribution to yacht racing in the Harbour and to Poole Yacht Club in particular. Cruiser racing was organised to Cherbourg, Ouistrem, Weymouth, Lymington, Yarmouth and Beaulieu and became extremely well supported and popular.
One event that should be recorded took place in 1950. Jerry Payne, a prominent club member, sailed his large ketch rigged gaffcutter, Karen III, across the Atlantic under the burgee of Poole Yacht Club. He arrived at the New York Yacht Club in Kentucket U.S.A. from there he sailed down to Bermuda and later raced back to England in the Atlantic Race. A very creditable performance in those days and one with which the club was proud to be associated.
In 1955 Norman Hibbs retired and John Kitson took office but for some inexplicable reason the Club began passing through an uncertain stage. The 'Snipes' had dwindled in number, mostly because they had to be kept on moorings and a series of gales devastated the fleet.
- Category: The History
The friendly atmosphere and spirit was quite extraordinary when compared to other sailing and yacht clubs in those days. The man responsible was undoubtedly Col. Pierce the Commodore. He was a remarkable man, an old Etonian with connections in the highest circles including royalty, yet he disliked any kind of class snobbery and was always ready to debunk it. He could be described as the typical English sporting gentleman with the common touch and was always ready to be genuinely friendly with the working man.
He was greatly loved and respected by all. His early influence in promoting the warm and friendly atmosphere of the Club must surely continue to this day and hopefully in the future. Together with Ken Morgan, the Hon. Secretary who worked so hard and loyally for the club, great efforts were made to attract and encourage more members amongst yachtsmen from near and far. One reason was to build up the total tonnage of yachts belonging to members in order to be able to apply for an Admiralty Warrant. This would give the Club the right to use the Blue Ensign which was a rare privilege amongst clubs in the U.K. The minimum Thames tonnage required was 2000 tons so it was extremely difficult to reach that figure. Only one other club locally had this distinction, the Royal Motor Yacht Club. For a while, Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club could only muster about 700 tons, a long way from the target. The Commodore had invited Tom Sopwith, that famous sailor to open the extension of the Club but he was unable to be present. The Commodore and Ken Morgan then had the brilliant idea of inviting Sopwith to accept honary membership of the club and, being an old friend of Col. Pierce, he gladly accepted. It meant, of course, that his large yachts, including the famous Endeavour, brought the total tonnage to over the required 2000 tons. Application was made to the Admiralty later in 1938 and the Warrant was granted.
It was undoubtedly a shock to some of the local yachting fraternity and other Clubs that the relatively small Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club should have the important Blue Ensign. The surprise and envy delighted the Commodore immensely.
Not being a Royal Club, the Ensign was required to be defaced. This took the form of a circle on the blue background containing the cross of the Club's burgee and a gold coloured fir cone in the centre. This fir cone represents the name 'Bournemouth' in the name. It is still our emblem but the ensign can only be flown on yachts that are registered and the owner a club member. It is also a requirement that the Ensign must be flown under the Club's burgee and only when the owner is on board or in the near vicinity. At all other times only the Red Ensign is allowed to be flown.
By this time, the original Poole Yacht Club was no longer an active sailing club in the true sense of the word, although many of its members were yachtsmen and also members of the Hamworthy Club and of course were sailing and racing from that base. It had become a businessman's club and the bar, bridge and billiards were its main activities. Eventually, the Club was no longer an economic concern and had to be wound up. The Commodore at the time, Commander Linklater, was also a Flag Officer of the Hamworthy & Bournemouth Sailing Club. It was he who suggested that the Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club should take the name Poole Yacht Club in order to keep the once famous name. After much soul searching it was eventually agreed and the change took place in 1948 and was registered officially. In the same year, the old Colonel who had been suffering from chronic arthritis over a long period, became even more crippled and was forced to retire as Commodore and moved to the Channel Islands. Norman Hibbs who had been Vice Commodore for some time was elected to take over.
During the 1939-45 War the Club continued its existence in a very limited way. Norman Hibbs continued as Commodore but also became a Naval Lt. Comdr and was in charge of a nearby Naval establishment known as H.M.S. Turtle. The Officers were made Honorary Members of the Club and it was due to this that the Club was not closed down or taken over by the Forces. The Bart Steward at the time was a man named 'Bert' May, a very amusing and forceful character and he virtually ran the Club during those years. When whisky and gin etc became in very short supply he developed a rationing system and members could only obtain two measures of spirit each evening. The regulars and the Navy would try every trick to obtain more than their ration but rarely go past 'Bert's' eagle eye!
- Category: The History
The story begins back in the middle of the 19th Century when the first records can be traced. Poole Yacht Club, as it is now constituted, is really the result of three clubs all closely connected in various stages eventually becoming one Club as it is today.
The original Poole Yacht Club is thought to have been founded in 1865 but was probably in existence in some form many years earlier. The centenary was actually celebrated in 1965 at Hamworthy.
In 1898 The Hamworthy Sailing Club was started and many years later in 1936 it became known as The Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club. Subsequently in 1948 it became the Poole Yacht Club having taken over the name of the original club which had become almost defunct. The old club had headquarters in Poole High Street and the last Commodore was a Commander Linklater, who was also a Member of the Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club. He offered the name and all records and trophies if the Hamworthy and Bournemouth Sailing Club would take over the name of the Poole Yacht Club in order to preserve it in perpetuity. This was agreed and the 'new' Poole Yacht Club was officially registered with Commander Norman Hibbs as Commodore.
The original Hamworthy Sailing Club founded in 1898 was the result of the difficulty for artisans, such as paid professional skippers, paid hands, boat builders, sailmakers and fishermen to become members of the more exclusive Yacht Clubs whose members consisted mainly of amateur gentleman yachtsman.
At that time there was an organisation known as the Y.R.A. - The Yacht Racing Association later changed to the Royal Yachting Association - R.Y.A. as it is known now. This Association was responsible for the original Yacht Racing Rules and only members of clubs recognised by them could take part in any organised Yacht racing or regattas raced under their rules. This meant that the so called 'professional' was banned from racing his own boat or indeed helming other yachts for their owners.
So, in about 1896, a group of these so called 'professionals' and outsiders decided to form their own Sailing Club in order to organise and enjoy racing amongst themselves. They, of course, were not recognised by the Y.R.A.
The Club became know as the Hamworthy Sailing Club and was situated along the shore of the Harbour, a little to the East of the old clubhouse. The 'Clubhouse' was an old wooden railway carriage with a platform on top of it, surrounded by a rail which was the 'Gun Deck' and used for starting and finishing the races.
Hibberd Wills was the Secretary and it was said he kept the club funds in an old sock under his bed! He sailed in the Harbour for many years single handed in his famous old boat named 'Poppy'!
The Club was, of course, not recognised by the Y.R.A. but this did not deter the members from racing between themselves regardless of recognition or otherwise. The members mostly consisted of professional skippers of local yachts, paid hands, longshoremen and Poole fishermen. Some famous old names were amongst them including Newman, Redman, Hood, Gould and Wills. The annual subscription was five old shillings.
After the 1914-18 War, the membership was very small but by 1925 there were many local people looking for an inexpensive Club from which to sail. Tradition was beginning to break and tradesmen and the so called 'amateur gentlemen' began to mix and the very exclusive Yacht Clubs of the past opened their memberships to people of all walks of life. People like Tom Ratsey, head of the famous sail making business, was invited to become Commodore of the Island Sailing Club at Cowes at the age of 80. Even a young yacht designer named Uffa Fox obtained membership of the previously very exclusive Club. The pursuit of yachting and sailing was no longer confined to the privileged few.
The Hamworthy Sailing Club thus attracted more and more local yachtsmen who organised their own sailing races. Amongst these yachtsmen was the well known sailor Col. Pierce who eventually became Commodore. Y.R.A. recognition was sought and granted in 1934, the membership being now largely non-professional. There were two main annual events - one taking place in the summer and one during the winter. First there was the Annual Cruise to Studland when most Members sailed round to Studland beach and then had 'high tea' at the Bankes Arms. Anyone not sailing would be invited aboard Commander Linklater's yacht 'Theodora'. She was a wonderful old 38 ton Bristol Pilot Cutter that could, if necessary, carry the whole of the Club membership! During the winter the Annual Smoking Concert was held at the Shipwrights' Pub on Poole Quay. This was restricted to 'men only' and was, of course, just an excuse for glorious booze up. Songs were sung and pints of ale consumed. The songs soon got bawdier and bawdier as the beer flowed and the smoke thickened, but such was the spirit of friendliness between members who as yet had no proper Clubhouse.
Handicap cruiser and dinghy racing of all kinds became a regular feature off the Hamworthy shore. The cruiser fleet included some large ex raters both 6 and 8 metre yachts and provided some spectacular sights when under full sail. Well known names of the owners were amongst them like Col. Pierce, Commander Linklater, Jack Travers, Steve Colombus, Arnold Newman, Norman Hibbs, Horace Drake and many others. The racing was very keen and there was great rivalry between the various owners with no quarter given or asked for! Most of these larger craft had paid skippers and crews and as any cash prize money was always given to these professionals, the rivalry reached enormous heights both on the water and ashore. Names of some of these yachts such as Geraldine, Mistral, Bryony, Severn, Nephele and Irona can be
- Category: The History
There was a lot of demand for a new 'one design' class of dinghy and the Sailing Committee approached Fred Parker, an up and coming designer at the time and later a famous one, to design a boat of much sturdier proportions suitable to be kept on our rather exposed moorings. Six of these craft known as 'The Poole Hawks' were built by Elkins at Christchurch but proved rather a handful to sail and needed a helmsman and two crew in heavy weather. However, some very keen racing resulted for about three seasons but for many reasons no more were built and the class eventually folded up.
John Kitson, who had moved from the district, retired as Commodore and the problem was to find someone who was keen enough and dedicated enough to restore the fortunes and popularity of the Club again. Bob Newton, a member for some years, was approached by a few members who knew of his capabilities in other directions. He was persuaded, almost reluctantly in the first instance, to take on what was going to be a difficult task. He was elected Commodore in 1957 and gathered a strong Committee behind him together with a keen and enthusiastic Sailing Committee. Bob began to revitalise the social side of the Club by cajoling and persuading many of his friends and other members to come to the Club, use the bar and perhaps play a game of snooker, and it was not long before the Clubhouse became a popular meeting place again. Under his leadership the prosperous days began to return and the Club soon became financially viable once more. The Sailing Committee decided to adopt a new dinghy class named the Yachting World Day Boat. This was a dinghy designed by a local designer by the name of O'Brian Kennedy who had won a prize with the design in the Yachting World magazine. It was a 14ft clinker boat and capable of being built by the keen amateur. A Weymouth Boat building firm James & Caddy had already built some and agreed to produce bare hulls for owners to finish themselves at a cost of £100. Several members jumped at this opportunity and soon there were about 12 boats ready to sail. The racing in this class was very competitive and at one time there were approximately 50 boats in the class. Needless to say it is still a very popular boat and still very keenly raced. Austin Condon who was elected an Hon. Life member did sterling work as Racing Boat driver for many years for this class.
In 1967 the Club was again enlarged, helped by a grant from the Sports Council for which Bob Newton was largely responsible. He made numerous visits to London and eventually the Club received quite a substantial sum. The bar was moved and enlarged and the lounge doubled in size with a Committee Room added. The Steward's flat was put above and a new Gun Deck above that. On the ground floor new changing rooms and showers were constructed both for ladies and gentlemen.
The Secretary and his staff had a separate office. Capt. George Thornton became Club Secretary in 1970 and gave extremely valuable service for many years after.
As can be seen from the above, the club was embarked on a programme of expansion at this time and during these years in the region of £100,000 was spent on the land and buildings substantially increasing the size of the Club and its premises. Examples of purchases at that time were the James building and No. 3 car park formerly belonging to Ratseys. As a result of this, Bob Newton offered to remain in office if the Committee so wished until the club had settled into its new premises and cleared its financial commitment. This was readily agreed to by the Flag Officers and Committee to ensure that the club came through this period of change with as little disruption as possible.
On the sailing side, new classes were adopted as Club classes in addition to the Day Boat and included Shearwater Catamarans, International Fireballs, Mirror dinghies and later, Ospreys.
In 1973 Bob Newton retired after 16 yrs as Commodore and Eric Cake was elected after having been a Flag Officer for nearly 10 years. He recommended to the Committee that, in future, the length of office of Commodore be restricted to 3 years and this was adopted as it was felt that no one would ever be able to emulate Bob's remarkable record and achievements. Bob was duly elected Life President.
Membership had by now increased to well over 1,000 and eventually had to be restricted to 1,500.
In 1976 Roy Bowyer was elected Commodore and it was during his term of office that negotiations were first opened with the Harbour Commissioners for the development of the 'Roll-on, Roll-off' Ferry Terminal. Previous proposals had been put forward during Bob Newton's time for a Marina but inevitably fell down on the cost to the developer of re-housing the Poole Yacht Club.
During this time, an Agreement was actually signed with the Harbour Commissioners for a restricted development but was only partly implemented before further and better plans took shape.
When Doug Reeves was elected Commodore in 1978 detailed negotiations were commenced for the development of the Port to include a new site for Poole Yacht Club and the use of a Boat Haven for members craft.
It was about this time also that Board sailing became popular and, whilst not accepted in all parts of the club, the Committee took a forward thinking view and encouraged growth of board sailors within the Club, realising that the future of any Club must lie with its youth. The board sailors then formed a strong part of the sailing activities of the Club and there is no doubt that many youngsters have been introduced to the world of sailing who might not otherwise have had the opportunity.
Evening cruiser racing developed, and became extremely popular. Certain series were opened to other Clubs and fleets of 120 plus were achieved, a truly remarkable result. During Doug Reeves' term of Office the social side of the Club also developed strongly and, together with Maggie Atha as Social Secretary, the first lady to be elected to Office within the Club, many events were organised which proved extremely popular with the members. The negotiations with the Harbour Commissioners continued but the proposals which then included a Yacht Haven both for the Yacht Club members, and for the general public, were opposed by local residents with the result that Planning Permission was refused and the matter went on Appeal to the Minister.
Frank Payne was elected Commodore in 1981 and by this time the Harbour Commissioners had been granted permission to develop the Port provided satisfactory arrangements were made for Poole Yacht Club. Escalating expense meant that the new scheme would give the Club exclusive use of the now smaller Yacht Haven and, whilst this was possibly to the detriment of Hamworthy residents, it was certainly a great advantage to the Club. Detailed negotiations then took place during which period many alternative proposals were put forward. Those principally involved in the negotiations at the time were the Commodore Frank Payne; Vice Commodore Richard Cake; Rear Commodore John Lewis and Architect Tony Reid. These four with the help of many other members and their varied talents were able to secure an Agreement which enabled the Club to be relocated on its new site some 60% larger and with a Yacht Haven accommodating about 350 boats. The final Agreement to proceed was reached in April 1983.
Richard Cake was elected Commodore in 1984 and having been involved with the Roll-on Roll-off development as legal advisor since 1976, was able to continue discussions with the Harbour Commissioners, in particular, the Chief Executive Commander Mules, throughout the course of development. At this time, John Lewis had been elected Vice Commodore and his particular knowledge of Marinas elsewhere enabled him to draw up a plan to replace the proposed pile mooring layout with the pontoon layout we now have.
The result of all these efforts is the Club House and Yacht Haven you see today which was officially opened by the President, Bob Newton, on 26 October 1984.