The Formation of the Walton-on-the-Naze Yacht Club
The first General Meeting of the Walton-on-the-Naze Yacht Club was held at the Albion Hotel on 20th September 1910. Shortly after that it moved into its rented Clubroom, upstairs over the Fire Station at the top of Mill Lane, which was part of the Town Hall complex. The Clubroom was open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons during the winter months and daily from 8am to 10pm during the summer. The club subscribed to the yachting magazines and purchased books to form the basis of the club library.
Its objects were “to encourage Yacht Racing and Cruising in local waters, to improve the navigation facilities in these waters and to promote the association of those interested in yachting”. The burgee was as it is today.
Crab Knoll buoy must have been in existence before this time as one of the first acts of the new club was to authorise Mr W Hammond, a local boatman, to “put the chain in order”. It then appointed a sub-committee to carry out the buoying of the Channel inside the Pye Sands and to meet Mr Eagle Senior to view the site of the proposed new hard “above the Twizzle”. The Hon. Sec. wrote to the Elder Brethren of Trinity House “praying them to put a big buoy on the end of the Pye Sands” but received a reply that they were unable. Later, in December 1915, Mr Hammond was offered £1 to replace Crab Knoll buoy, recover one escaped buoy and sort out mooring chains.
The new club was keen to promote the newly buoyed Backwaters as a yachting venue and contacted the various pilot books and other clubs to publicise the new facilities. The racing of the day was often against other local clubs, but the members also held Regattas locally. The Opening Regatta, to be followed by a luncheon and prizegiving, was held on Easter Saturday 1911 with all yachts required to assemble between the Windmill and Watermill at 11.15 am to receive sailing instructions. We still have photographs showing club boats sailing around this area, close to our present clubhouse which is on the site of the Windmill.
There was obviously a very active sailing programme in the local area, and many events were held or attended over the next few years, however the First War reduced this number, and members on active service were excused payment of their subscriptions. It is likely that, over the rest of the war years, this put the club into a bit of financial difficulty. It also seems that the Channel buoyage suffered during this time and while the Committee was trying to find and lay replacements in 1919 an Admiralty Notice to Mariners was published saying that all except for two black buoys that remained “be expunged from the charts”.
In May 1918, it had been agreed that a small buoy be placed at Pye End, but that more buoys need not be put down as the channel was already “well marked by beacons”. During the following year, at the time of the Notice to Mariners, the committee arranged that Pye End, High Hill and Crab Knoll be replaced with larger buoys and that smaller buoys be put back in the old places, as marked on the chart, “if funds allowed”.
The transformation to the Walton & Frinton Yacht Club on it's present site
In June 1919 a small group of members were appointed to meet with the Mill Estate and Harbour Co. to discuss the usage of the quay and right of way to the waterside. The results of these negotiations are not minuted, but it is apparent that the members were given the opportunity to purchase the land for £350.
On September 22nd 1919 a General Meeting was held to agree the proposed new Yacht Club (see the four scanned documents of the 22/9/1919 meeting). By this time £2,355 had already been pledged by 22 members.
The proposals included renaming the club the Walton & Frinton Yacht Club and erecting a clubhouse on the site of the “Windmill on the Backwater” with associated “hards” to enable members to get to their yachts at all states of the tide, one opposite the clubhouse and what became Colonel’s Hard in the Twizzle with a pathway to it. The estimated cost for all this, including the purchase of the land, laying on electricity and water and furnishing the building was £3615.
A few days after this meeting, the Committee agreed that “the scheme should be a Limited Liability Company of £5000 with the proviso that no shares could be transferred by any subscriber without the consent of the directors”. The purchase was to be financed by offering shares to members and the Walton & Frinton Yacht Trust was formed.
In May 1920, the House Committee met in the Marine Hotel and agreed the purchase of furnishings including 9 mattresses for the bunks, 36 blankets, 9 pillows and a large number of towels. Also cutlery and crockery, glasses and so on. They then discussed furniture and fittings to be purchased. These are listed by room, Ladies Room, Kitchen, Lavatory, Bathroom, Bunk Room, Committee Room, Reading Room and so on. The total cost of this comprehensive list of items was £126 7s 6d.
At the same time applications for the post of Steward and Stewardess were coming in and the House Committee was given the job of going through these. A sub-committee of three members visited Westcliff to see Mr and Mrs Musselwhite. Once the Committee had approved their appointment, they were notified to that affect by telegram. Once they were installed, Mrs Musselwhite took on the task of equipping the kitchen.
Lady members were invited to form a sub-committee “for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase of a flagstaff for the Club House” and in August, once established in the new clubhouse, Messrs J. W. Eagle and Conly were empowered to negotiate the purchase of a billiard table from the Albion Hotel.
The documents refer to the purchase of the Hydrophone Station and Listening Post which became the Tower, but there is no mention of the Army huts that formed the rest of the clubhouse. The whole build was completed very quickly, allowing the members to move out of the clubroom and into their new building less than a year after the first negotiations to buy the land.
The new clubhouse was opened by the Commodore, J.W. Eagle, on Saturday 24th July 1920.
The Second World War
During the first year of the War, the various committees met with decreasing regularity. It is apparent that many members were leaving the area to fight, and movements on the water were becoming restricted.
The Committee met in March 1945 for the first time for nearly five years. The Commodore explained that the Club had not been requisitioned but it was practically taken over by the Admiralty. It had been run throughout the War by the Stewards, Mr and Mrs Oldridge, with the Commodore, W J Oxley, and local members mucking in to keep the building going.
It seems unlikely that the Channel was marked throughout the War and in February 1946 the Committee met to discuss replacing the missing Channel buoys and agreed that “four buoys only be obtained, two Port and two Starboard and beacons should be placed round Mussel Scarf and Island Point sides of Channel”. It approved the purchase of chain, and also the reinstatement of the flag mast and that “an estimate be obtained to recondition the piano”.
Tony Fetherstone and the Major Ground Works around the clubhouse.
In the mid 1960s with Tony Fetherstone as Captain and subsequently Commodore it was found that the marshes on which the Clubhouse and quays and hards were built were slipping into the creeks.
Tony came up with a programme first to rebuild the quay on the west side with reinforced concrete and tiebacks into the area of the base of the windmill, and subsequently a similar wall on the east side replacing the Jewel hard with the pontoon basin. All this work was done by a dedicated band of volunteers over a number of years including Martin Wilberforce, Ian Miller, all the Dale Family, John Day, Margaret and Terry Sandell and Chris Brooke. All this was helped by Tony’s collection of equipment, a crane/digger (Gert), a yellow dump truck (Daisy), cement mixers and a landing craft (Cleopatra). All this work has endured to the present day.
In addition the first dinghy slip was built on the east side on the remains of the Thames barge (Plantagenet) once owned by Vic Scammel. The pontoon basin was dredged by a machine built by Jock Smith and powered by a Seagull outboard. The first pontoons were concrete tanks built by the same team.
In late 1977 the Committee led by Commodore Edgar Traylen decided that the current stewards’ quarters were not fit for purpose. They occupied the area of the gents changing room and office of the recently demolished building and shared their kitchen and bathroom with the members.
In order to maintain a live in steward, a new purpose built stewards’ bungalow was constructed on the site of the locker shed (which was moved by crane to the current site) and the club interior redesigned to provide better facilities for members. These included the provision of a shower and changing room for the Ladies, who previously had only had a toilet.
WFYC IN THE 21ST CENTURY