Club History

Coniston Sailing Club Through The Years
1967 – 2018

In the early sixties, down by the lakeside, there was the old boathouse of Coniston Old Hall.  It was derelict, with what windows and doors there were blocked in with corrugated iron sheeting – no floors, no water, no electric, no toilets and lots of draughts.  Outside the only sign of sailing activity was in the form of two catamarans tied to a small iron jetty near the place where the cruiser launching ramp now stands.  The larger of the two boats, a Shearwater, belonged to Eric Coward; the other, a smaller Swift class catamaran, was owned by Peter Sunderland from Nelson.

On the water there was one mooring leased from the newly created Rawdon-Smith Trust for an annual fee of £2.  Ian Stancliffe’s silhouette, “Midnight” lay on this mooring, joined the following year by 2 more silhouettes, one owned by John Abram, the Club’s first Commodore.  In addition, several people sailed dinghies on the water, primarily from the current campsite on Lands Point field – the National Trust were yet to arrive at Coniston Old Hall!

And so gradually several people came together who were interested in sailing boats and sailing them on Coniston Water.

What Next?

The first page of the Club Minute Book reads ‘the inaugural meeting of the Club was held at the Ship Inn, Coniston on Easter Sunday, 26th March 1967.  Those present (John Abram, Peter Askew, Eric and Olive Coward, Richard Kenyon, Frank Saggers, David Shuttleworth and Ian Stancliffe) were all in favour of forming a sailing club on Coniston Water based at Coniston Old Hall …. Ian Stancliffe had already contacted the RYA to enquire about the procedure for setting up such a club … those present proposed and seconded that:

  • Ian Stancliffe should become the Club Secretary
  • Olive Coward should be the Club Treasurer
  • John Abram for Commodore

The meeting decided that the name should be Coniston Sailing Club and its prime purpose should be to encourage the sport and enjoyment of sailing on Coniston Water.  The first annual subscription would be £1 for full and family members, and 5 shillings for those under 16 years of age.  It was suggested that part of the old boathouse would make an ideal base for the sailing club and it was agreed that Dawson Inman (the then tenant farmer) should be approached about the possible use of these premises.  An Annual General Meeting was set for Saturday 6th May when members could get to know one another and share ideas and suggestions for the future of the club.

 

And so, in 1967, Coniston Sailing Club came into being from humble beginnings – initially a sailing club that neighbouring clubs used to look on as something of a joke and certainly not to be taken too seriously.  It’s fair to say that over the years we have proved that not to be the case and have some significant milestones throughout our 51-year history.

Before and after – courtesy of an old postcard

1967 – The original 9 members grew to ninety.  The front doorway to the clubhouse was built and the windows in the lower clubroom replaced.  The earth floor in the kitchen areas was boarded with timber laid on old sleepers from the disused Ulverston/Coniston railway line.  The remainder of the clubhouse was still derelict and was cut off by a corrugated Perspex screen.  The first Coniston Sailing Club sign went up by the front door, the Forestry Commission donated a flagpole and coloured flags were made for the first ever race on Sunday May 7th (postponed due to lack of wind).  The changing rooms were a curtained partition just inside the front door but there were no toilets other than the trees outside!   Social events included a Treasure Hunt Afloat and a Hot Pot Supper which made a profit of 19 shillings.  There were 8 moorings rented directly for £5 from Mr Rawdon-Smith.  The first season made a profit of £83.

1968 – Racing was growing popular and alternate weeks for cruisers and dinghies was arranged.  The cruiser fleet sailed to the Isle of Man for which the Club was awarded the Silhouette Owners Trophy – presented at a reception in London!

1969 – Members saved up to buy the race hut which stood at ground level (replacing the OD bench on another railway sleeper on 2 oil drums).  The first dinghy open meeting was held with visitors from Roa Island and Fiddlers Ferry Sailing Clubs.  Class racing began in Mirrors.

First Edition of the Club newsletter – front cover designed by Ian Pratt.

1970 – Membership was limited to 150 voting members.  Wives and juniors didn’t count in numbers.  The first Junior Weekend was held.  Moorings were limited to 40. The floor of the main club room and future bar was laid on existing beams, the first balcony constructed and the side entrance and stairway built.  There were still no toilets.  The boathouse was still privately owned but rumours were circulating of possible sale.

1971 – Sale progressing – March 25th at the Sun Hotel. A mad scramble ensued to raise funds by way of grants, loans and promises.  The Honorary Secretary gatecrashed the Whitehall offices of the people responsible for grant aid to Sporting organisations.  £6,000 was raised and the boathouse was bought for £3,500 – for about 10 minutes – and then a block bid from the National Trust took over and the Farm, Sailing Club (Boathouse) and adjoining land was theirs.  The constitution was revised in line with National Trust requirements and to permit a bar license.  A license was granted in September and a Lease agreed until 1999.  There were still no toilets and the National Trust suggested that the nearby trees needed felling.  Weekly racing was now taking place with over 400 entries throughout the year (excluding the now well-established Coniston Open).  Fees were £3 with a dinghy park place £1 extra.  Club cash now in hand totalled £59.

1972 – Membership was now approximately 400 with 66 dinghies on the park and 130 boats in total excluding pram dinghies.  The first Scorpion meeting was held and MBSA Mirror Team Racing began.  Bar profits of £939 were recorded.  The Bar was furnished thanks to help from Hartley’s and toilets at last installed.  Changing rooms were moved to the club room with curtains on planks over the seating areas.

1973 – Over 400 members.  The constitution was revised to move the AGM from March to the end of the year.

1974 – First Nibthwaite cruise.  CSC hosted the MBSA dinghy regatta.  Two sections of the pontoon were built to supplement the side jetty.  Agreement was obtained from the National Trust to extend the dinghy park to 100 spaces.  Membership total was now 500 – £6 husband and wife; £4 full member; Juniors 50p; dinghy park £4 and moorings £12.

The first Jetty is installed

1975 – Superb weather.  The Open weekend attracted nearly 100 entries.  New club moorings were laid.

Cruisers were stored on the field for winter before the Car Park was constructed

1976 – Weather even better!  Total membership was now about 600.  Wednesday night racing commenced to great support.  Scorpion and Flying Fifteen fleets were becoming established.  The Club Car Park was constructed, and the clubhouse now had mains water, electric, water heaters, showers and radiant heaters fitted.  Park Coppice caravan site was opened which caused problems for members who kept a caravan in the Old Hall site. The Lake District Special Planning Board Inquiry to limit the speed of powered craft to 10mph received CSC support.  The Club registered for VAT.  Northerly storms wrecked the club pontoon and drove 17 cruisers on to the shore at Lands Point.

1977 – Improvements were made to the toilets. A start was made on re-laying all 40 club moorings with negotiations completed for long term lease of these from the Rawdon-Smith Trust.  A Club telephone was installed.  The first Crown Paints Regatta was held – a major success.  Agreement was made with the National Trust to limit adult membership to 450 with 100 dinghy park places and an understanding of the maximum number of Open Events the club was allowed to host.

1978 – The Club kitchen was reconstructed with new catering equipment.  Bar takings for the year were £7,000.  Scorpion Northern Championships, MBSA Team Racing, Crown Paints Regatta and the Coniston Open (sponsored by Schweppes) all received great support from visitors.

1979 – A big increase in the cost of petrol results in 20% less trade in the Lakes.  Work starts on new changing rooms in the wet dock area.  The Mirror Northern Championship was held.

1980 – Changing rooms were complete.  The Albacore Northern Championship was held.  The Crown Paints Regatta had 143 entries.  Steam Yacht Gondola was back in service with inaugural trips from CSC pontoon – including a VIP reception in the club house for the Duke of Devonshire and countless guests with national press, radio and TV coverage.  Membership was now up to 606.  Scorpion sailors, including a number of juniors travelled to Felixstowe for the Scorpion Nationals.

1981 – Petrol was still more expensive which affected the frequency of visits to the Club by members living any distance away.  Radio Consail went on air for the first time.  The Management Committee agreed to accept a small number of sailboards.  A new carpet was laid in the bar with the help of Hartley’s brewery.  The Club youth team competed again in Scorpion Nationals at Tenby.

1982 – There was a noticeable decline in dinghy racing as compared to cruisers.  The Tourist Board’s Maritime England promotion includes a 9-day Coniston Water Festival, coordinated by CSC with considerable success.  The first Burlington Cruiser Regatta was held over the 5 weekdays.  Clare Francis was a special guest at the Crown Paints Regatta.

1983 – Member interest in windsurfing was growing and casual races were arranged.  Plans were formulated for a permanent heating system.  New comfy bar stools were purchased. The second Coniston Water Festival proved even more popular and the club participates in the St Andrew flower festival.  Professional bar staff were employed. Following the launch of Coniston Water Festival in 1982 the old tradition of Rowboat Dressing was resurrected in 1983.  This was part of a 3-year celebration of Maritime England and perhaps, fittingly, the Club’s first entrance was a Gondola.  There were individual club entries as well, with Swan Lake (club members in Tutus is a memory I will never forget) and one year the Sinking of the Belgrano – nearly took a few cruisers out with it!  The Rowboat dressing continued for a number of years (approx. 2000 last one) with rowboats decorated in various different ways to a common theme by various local organisations and groups.

1984 – New door and windows were installed in the lower clubhouse.  A Bar cellar was built over the wet dock.  Coniston Water Safety Committee was formed with other lake users.  Dinghy park fences were installed and the area to the South was sublet by the Club for use by visiting yachtsmen.  Hot air heating was installed in the bar and changing rooms providing luxury.  Coniston Water Festival featured on Radio 4.  Roa Island BC attended the first joint social evening.  Plans were made for improvements to the gents’ toilets and a sponsored sail raised £810 for the NSPCC.

1985 – Improvements to the gents were completed – now the ladies wanted the same!  The Nibthwaite cruise to the Royal Oak with 60 members in a room for 30 made for a cosy evening.  The Coniston Water Festival going from strength to strength. CSC won the Hartley’s Rowboat Trophy for their RNLI Lifeboat.  Past Commodore ties were introduced.  A Maxpax coffee machine was installed. Club member Michael Lennon participated in the Fireball World Championships.

RNLI Lifeboat – CSC’s 1985 Boat Dressing entry

1986 – The Ladies were pleased with their new styled ‘powder room’.  Storm damage was sustained to the pontoon and a new section installed.  HMS Torbay became a club member!  New bar shutters were fitted.  The tenth Crown Paints Regatta attracted over 100 entries.  A visit to the Club took place by a party of EEC diplomats and attaches as guests of the Ministry of Agriculture.   CSC Christmas Cards featured a pencil sketch of the club done by a member.

1987 – Additional open meetings were held for the Streaker Association and Mistral Sailboards. The remainder of the original pontoon was replaced. A Sponsored sail raised £500 for St Andrews Church.  The Car Park was extended.  CSC Member Martin Knowles selected to participate in Operation Raleigh in Australia.

“Trawler” – CSC’s 1987 Boat Dressing entry

 

1988 – Coniston Sailing Club is 21
Past Commodores were invited to a reception in the Old Hall followed by a club party to celebrate.  Special races were held on the Sunday with a reception for various local organisations from the village and other lake users.  The Secretary reported turnover of £40,000 at the AGM.  A new bar store was to be built over the winter.  Balcony stairs were fitted to the balcony.

“Map of the Lake and 21st Key” – CSC’s 1988 Boat Dressing entry

1989 – Excellent weather led to increased participation in cruiser events.  The Coniston Water Festival and the MBSA regatta went well. A club trip was arranged to BNFL.  Club moorings were transferred to individual owners.  A Sports Council grant was received for improvements to the cruiser ramp. CSC won the Boat Dressing trophy again with “Concorde”.

“Concorde” – CSC’s 1989 Boat Dressing Entry

This was the one year the boats didn’t row down to the Sailing Club as it was too wet and windy but as the Sailing Club had 2 very strong rowers on board we could bring Concorde down.  The nose cone spent the next few seasons fixed to the wall on top of the stairs!

 

1990 – Demand had now led to a waiting list for club membership and Dinghy Park places.  Cruiser racing was still good but dinghy racing had declined.  A New Village Committee was created to run Coniston Water Festival.  A new cruiser ramp was installed.  CSC hosted the 10th Anniversary Cruise of SY Gondola.

1991 – Safety Boat courses were proving to be a great success.  The side (tender) jetty was improved.  A pool table was purchased.  A Silver Jubilee Committee was appointed.

1992 – Silver Jubilee Celebrations took place to mark the 25th Anniversary of the club.    A party was held and special races were sponsored by Vaux Brewery.   A Drascombe rally was well supported but a Catamaran Regatta attracted little interest.  A Refurbished bar and the introduction of guest beers had gone down well.  The Membership waiting list stood at 80 applicants.  A new bar till was installed.  Ian Stancliffe received a Silk Cut award for club officials presented at a reception in London.

1993 – New food hygiene laws resulted in extra work to replace windows with safety glass, hot water behind the bar and additional fire extinguishers.

The original kitchen area at the lower level before the current kitchen area was installed

1994 – Negotiations for Renewal of the Club Lease get underway.

1995 – The Cumbrian Regatta attracted over 80 entrants but only 5 Sailing Club boats.  The Prime Minister John Major visited the Club.

1996 – Participation was quieter although lots of members were still sailing during the week.  Confirmation was given to members at the AGM that a new Lease from 1999 would be granted.  This Lease would include the land at the South side used for visiting dinghies. A Special General Meeting was held during the year to remove the bar, house and social sub committees to make volunteering slightly less formal.  The Club’s Honorary Secretary stood down after serving in this role for most of the Club’s history.

1997 – Ongoing negotiations were taking place with the National Trust regarding the new Lease.  A new Safety boat was purchased.  Plans were underway for clubhouse improvements – primarily the ladies’ and gents’ toilets and showers, and improve the kitchen area.

1998 – The season started with severe gales causing damage to boats.  A Lottery grant application was submitted for proposed building works but was not granted. The main entrance to the club was moved from the rear of the building to the side entrance.  Vaux brewery provided sponsorship for Coniston Water Festival.  Wednesday night racing remained well supported.  New lounge furniture was purchased.  Guttering was fitted to the outside.  Club funds were forecasted to end the season with £60,000 in the bank.  Membership waiting list was now down to 57.

1999 – Sponsorship from Vaux, Steve Goacher and Phil Evans was received for various events.  Building work was still continuing.  An appeal for planning permission for the walkway on the cruiser launch jetty was upheld and the new walkway was now built.

2000 – The Building work was completed providing a new kitchen area, new ladies’ toilets and showers.  The Lease was finally signed for another 20 years.  A Millennium party was held in the Old Hall.  It was reported at the AGM that filling duties continued to be a problem.  Cruiser racing was well supported and entries to Regattas remained strong.

2001 – The Club remained closed until May owing to the National outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease.  It turned out to be a record breaking year with 27 boats and 100+ members attending the Peel Island BBQ.  Increased numbers of CSC members, including juniors were entering regattas.  11 Club members sailed in a 67ft Challenge Series yacht from Plymouth to Kinsale via the Fastnet Rock – experience gained sailing in force 10+!

2002 – The Club hosted the RYA Northwest Single-handed juniors training day.  A Harry Potter themed weekend was a great success, as was the Ladies night (served by a male only team) and the Greek night.  Discussions that took place at the AGM highlighted that the changing rooms needed to be a top priority for refurbishment.  The Water Festival week regatta was sponsored by Maiden Marine, Steve Goacher Sails, Phil Evans, Aquatronics and BAE Systems. Social events to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee included a Cruiser trip to the Waterhead Hotel for afternoon tea.  The Sonata Inland Championships were hosted in October.

2003 – The end of the direct debit scheme in 2002 resulted in a healthy turnover of membership with junior members totaling 90.  A new safety boat was purchased.  The theme for a junior event was Peter Pan – a great spectacle in Horseshoe Bay with Captain Hook walking the plank and the crocodile ticking clock!  Use of RYA Picos continued.   Seven Coniston juniors competed with good results against 11 visitors in the RYA Junior Travellers.  Ladies keelboat sail training was launched.  Coniston Water Festival was a great success with excellent weather and good winds for the Burlington and Osprey Regattas – although the wind disappeared for the Cumbrian Open at the end of the week.

2004 – The Club website was launched.  2 CSC members formed part of a BAE Systems team competing in a sponsored sail around the Isle of Wight. – finishing 4th.  Improvements were made to the South side of the Club as part of a legacy.   The theme of an adventure weekend at the Club was Superheroes – but even Superheroes can’t go down to Horseshoe Bay in Southerly gales! The first (and last) Junior Commodore writes a great report for the Newsletter.  A Special General Meeting was held during the year to discuss the viability of CSC as a limited company. The AGM agenda had 18 items including insurance increases for Public Liability Cover and various changes to the Constitution.  Voting for 3 positions Commodore, Treasurer and Sailing Chairman took place.

2005 – The Club hosted the North West Hot Air Balloon Festival –a joint competition was held with boats racing with balloon fliers as crew followed by the sailors going up in the Balloons – one group wanted wind the other wanted none!  A combined Dinner Dance and Presentation was held at Coniston Sports and Social Club.  Swallows and Amazon was the theme for the adventure weekend.  The Club purchased 2 Oppies.

2006 – The Sonata Inlands, sponsored by The Coppermines, Goacher Sails and Phil Evans was held at Coniston  for the 2nd time.  Improvements were made to the lounge heating and seating.  Junior training continued and a strong junior fleet was now in place with many of them progressing to Toppers.  The Cumbrian Regatta was now held on Bank Holiday weekend and the Burlington the following weekend.

2007 – The New race hut was completed and the Topper rack now in place. The launching ramp winch was removed after the insurance company condemned it.  Planning was underway for new Balcony to be built.

2008 – Work continued on the new balcony.  Major work was underway, in partnership with the National Trust, for a new sewerage system.  Club members participated in Cowes week in their Sonata.  Several members withdrew their nomination for the Management Committee just before the AGM.  The Committee was co-opted and an Acting Commodore was appointed.

2009 – The new balcony was completed.  A “Coniston’s Got Talent” and a “Cowboys and Indians” evening was a great social event.  Junior sailing skills were progressing well.  The Past Commodore gained SY Gondola ticket and berths it on the Club jetty for the annual Gondola cruise.  2 additional Optimist dinghies were acquired for junior sailing.  The first Club Development Plan was produced.  The Honorary Treasurer withdrew at the AGM.  CSC was flooded during the winter.

2010 – An Honorary Treasurer was Co-opted post AGM and an Extraordinary General Meeting was held in March 2010 to clarify all financial elements of the Club.  Juniors represented CSC at the NSSA and the Topper Nationals and CSC hosted the NW Traveller series.  RNLI fund raising in May raised £2,000.

2011 – The Club was flooded again on Christmas Eve 2010 from burst frozen pipes, but opened in time for Easter with work finished in readiness for the May Regatta. The Summer Ball and Proms Night were key highlights of the social season.  Options continued to be discussed for new Changing Rooms. Existing changing rooms were continually at risk of flooding located as they were in the basement dock area of the building. The Club ended the year with a surplus and £48,000 in reserves.

Winter Floods

2012 – An Information for members leaflet was produced. The summer was reported as being the wettest on record, but the Club remained financially stable with a steady trickle of new members.  Groups from other sailing clubs visited the Club throughout the year.  Junior training was a highlight with younger members of the Club helping.  The Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Annual Summer Ball went well, and the Gondola Cruise continued to be a sellout. The tender jetty was refurbished.

2013 – Snow delayed events at the start of the season with the Commodore’s Welcome Party postponed until May. “Chili-gate” hit the club with the freezer turned off by mistake!  A great Duck Race was enjoyed by the juniors. The Summer Ball was decorated with beach huts which moved to a member’s school following the event.  A Cumbrian Sailing Team, including 4 CSC juniors, won the NSSA Youth Regatta at Bassenthwaite.  A Sport England Grant was received enabling the purchase of 4 club dinghies.  The House Representative  presented plans for proposed Changing room improvements at the AGM.  The year ended with a surplus of £15,262 (the highest since 2009). 

2014 – Investigations confirmed that the Club should not register as a Charity.  Plans for new building continued and a new 20-year Lease was secured.  Fund raising and Grant applications were commenced to raise money for Building works.  A Club Open Day was held, and CSC received RYA teaching accreditation – 15 juniors gained RYA level 1 and 8 level 2.    The new jetty was installed.  36 boats (67 sailors) participated in Bart’s Bash – with entries ranging from Toppers to 26ft cruisers.  A fund raising auction raised over £3,000.

The New Jetty arrives

2015 – Building extension preparation and fund raising continued throughout the season with a full update presented to the AGM in October. A Sport England Grant of £50,000 was withdrawn, and a new application submitted for £75,000 was successful.  Club member donations were still coming in.  The Eric Twiname trust donated a RS Tera dinghy.

2016 – The Building work finally commenced in January 2016 – Problems and hurdles were encountered from the start, and the Club was kept closed at Easter, then eventually opened in April with restricted access. The new changing rooms and toilets were fully opened in June.  The Coniston Open Regatta went ahead with Porta Loos and no basic changing facilities and no showers, but was still well supported and a great event.  CSC withdrew from the Community Amateur Sports Scheme.  CSC returned to the Morecambe Bay Sailing Association and hosted a successful regatta in September. The Junior regatta saw teenagers and juniors in opposing teams battling it out to win. A Laser Travellers event and RS200 Northern Circuit were also held.  Junior Training continued going from strength to strength with several juniors now participating in RYA Zone squads and travelling to junior regattas.  Commodore Judy Leese was awarded the RYA Lifetime Commitment Volunteer award and Nic Johnson a Volunteer Community Award in the Youth Section.  The first Junior Summer School was held over 5 days.  An additional £10,000 grant was received for a new RIB taking total safety boats to 3.

Building work commences

 

2017 – CSC Celebrates 50 Golden Years
The Club held an official opening reception of the new changing rooms with Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron, and RYA Chairman, Dave Williamson as invited guests.  Easter Sunday included a Commodore’s reception with all Past Commodores invited to celebrate 50 years.  All members (old and new) were invited to the traditional cocktail party. An Open Day, including a private event for John Ruskin School, attracted 61 people to try sailing.  The Regatta attracted a record entry for several years with everybody loving the new facilities. The main 50th celebrations took place in June with over 60 members attending a Summer Ball, with special races on the Saturday and Sunday for both dinghies and cruisers.  Wednesday night racing was still very well supported with lots of different racing taking place.  Junior Summer School continued over 3 days.  A Junior member was invited to attend a 5-day training/coaching event at Weymouth.  Membership increased to 326 adults and 97 juniors.

Building Completed

 

2018 – A Winter dinghy sailing scheme was piloted.  Investigations commenced to progress to online membership payments.  The now traditional August Bank Holiday fancy dress party created some frightening sights with a Halloween party!  Another junior member was selected for a week at the Bart Simpson Academy in Weymouth.  Rob Swyer received RYA outstanding contribution award and Valerie Beacock the Lifetime Commitment award.  A new club website was launched.

Coniston Sailing Club Commodores

1967 – 69     John Abram           
1970David Thornton
1971Stan Yates
1972Ivor Hopkinson
1973Bob Collins
1974 – 75Ian Stancliffe
1976James Armstrong
1977Bryan Johnson
1978Keith Coxon
1979Karl Barras
1980Des Slater
1981Jack Cairns
1982Brian Lennon
1983 – 84Stuart Cowburn
1985 – 86Robin Lancaster
1987 – 88Jean Peel
1989Ken Knowles
1990 – 91Judy Leese
1992 – 93Dorothy Cowburn
1994 – 95Alan Bell
1996 – 97Bill Springthorpe
1998Ian Dodsworth
1999 – 00Chris Guttridge
2001 – 02Gordon Rogerson
2003 – 04Barbara Springthorpe
2005 – 07John Johnson
2008Valerie Beacock
2009Gary Naylor (Acting Commodore)
2010Gary Naylor
2011 – 12Doug Riley
2013 – 17Judy Leese
2018 – Maria Swyer