Some Accounts of the Club History
In the beginning there was an idea
For many years Nottingham had suffered greatly from the flooding from the river Trent and 1933 was another such year. There were early plans to prevent the river flooding by straightening the river and building sluices. By good fortune the Club’s founder Bernard Bell heard of these plans which became the point of his conception for a sailing club, believing the stretch of river between Trent Bridge and Holme Pierrepont would make an excellent situation. However, the plans were greatly delayed by the World War II. In March 1947 a serious flood occurred, twenty-eight miles of streets, 3,000 properties and 86 factories in the city centre were flooded. Finally, in response, flood defences were constructed through Nottingham in the 1950s.
In 1955 Bernard’s plan to start a sailing club finally came to fruition, he had managed to get a lease on a patch of land and with others, plans went ahead for a sailing club between Colwick Pleasure Gardens and the newly built Holme Pierrepont sluices. Bernard’s plans and a request for interested members was published in The Guardian Journal on 18th August 1955. In the article Bernard, aged 35, explained that following the realignment of the Trent, the river had been considerably widened at this point. The article also mentioned Bernard had already been sailing on the Trent and had capsized his Graduate dinghy for the first time that year. The Nottingham Sailing club was formally founded the next day 19th August 1955, as displayed on the wooden Commodore plaque above the present tea bar. Due to the above press release, Bernard quickly received interest from 30 people. The Nottingham Evening News 23rd August 1955 wrote ‘When they all met for the first time there was plenty of enthusiasm from people of most ages and an appreciation of the patient hard work which will have to be done before their club is in full sailing order’. Bernard became the Club’s first commodore between 1956 – 1958.
The newly formed Nottingham Sailing Club had plans to begin a pavilion, moorings and landing stage in the winter months of 1955. They needed a club house and this they sourced as a second-hand army hut. Another founder member, Arnold Inglis, who had a lorry, transported it to site. It was then erected onto brick pillars. These pillars have saved the club from being flooded several times, Ruth Nettleship remembers flood water being so high and strong in 2000 it removed the surface of the road along the back of the dinghy park.
In a later news article of 1955 National Twelves were photographed on the river and readers were informed that sailing happened on Sunday afternoons and racing would begin in the Summer of the following year.
The original Club building is the bit with the ridged roof; looking inside today’s clubhouse it extended to the beginning of the kitchen and was the depth up to the internal vertical wooden supports . The entrance was originally in the end wall nearest to the dinghy park, the doorway which is next to today’s bar. Double doors were added to the original building facing the river.
A front extension facing the river was added soon after. A doorway and porch was put in at the downstream corner facing the start box, Michael Brookman remembers this entrance in use when he first was a visitor at an event at the club in 1959 or 1961. At this time, he remembers the phone situated near to the corner doorway. Concrete steps were added and these steps lasted into the 21st century although the door had long gone.
It is thought, this door disappeared sometime in the early 60s, certainly by 1964. During this time an upstream extension was added which included the present doorway and a kitchen area. This new entrance door had the covered external foyer but without the extended uncovered platform and double steps, which we see today. The kitchen and bar area were one of the same, hot water to the kitchen, bar and the changing rooms was supplied by Calor gas, which was stored at the end of the building. Cooking was by gas as was heat for the changing rooms. The gas was supplied from cylinders stored under a lean to roof at the upstream end of the building. The changing rooms were the opposite way around in comparison with today’s format – the present women’s room was the men’s changing room. The women’s changing room was not as large as the men’s is now, there was a further extension added later.
It is believed that there was mains water from the beginning but no flushing toilets, instead Elsan toilet cans in huts at the upstream end of the building. However, these were replaced inside the changing rooms by proper toilets by the very early 60s. The water came from the same supply pipe to a horse trough in the neighbouring field. The Club had electricity from the beginning or near the beginning from a generator which was housed where we now have the bar store under the start box. This supplied low voltage (thought to be 110 volts) for lighting. The clubroom was originally heated by coal stove and later replaced with paraffin stoves. These heaters stood at the middle of the back wall of the clubroom. The original stove stood on a stone plinth which can now be seen stored under the building next to the bar cellar.
The start box had a part open top and the rescue boat was stored below it.
The first boats at the Club were a real menagerie, as might be expected. There were a few unidentifiable clinker boats a Heron, Graduate, GP14, Enterprise, N12, Osprey, Firefly, International 14, Albacore and Solo.
In the first press article Bernard Bell had suggested new members could build their own boat for about £50 during the winter months!