- Written by Poole Yacht Club
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.