ABOUT US

THE HISTORY OF ASHLETT SAILING CLUB 1947-2016

Preface

I have been fortunate to have been a member of Ashlett Sailing Club for about twenty years. I first visited the creek over thirty years ago. It is a very special place. I have always been interested in researching local history. I have carried out extensive research and talked to many members and past members of the club. I owe my thanks to many people but would particularly like to thank the following for their help in proof reading my many drafts and for contributing many of the details:- Arthur Burchett, Mike Harvey, Colin Smedley, Jim Hopwood, Andy Sutton, Peter Hall, Dave Young and John Ward.

I would urge readers to view the accompanying photographs before and also after they have read the following text. I would be grateful if any reader, who believes that there are omissions or mistakes, would send details for my attention to the club secretary. Also please let us have any photographs that you would be happy for us to add to our photographic archive.

I hope that you will enjoy reading about some aspects of the history of our club, that you will find it interesting and appreciate what many members, both past and present, have done for the benefit of all members.

Mike Gillingham

January 2016.

Foreword

I started writing the following as an article about Arthur Burchett who is not only a good friend of mine who many members will know, but who also has a detailed knowledge about many aspects of the sailing club’s history, because he was directly involved.  After carrying out much research I have decided to fulfil my original aim and expand it to include a more extensive study of the development of the club.

Personalities

Many people have been involved in creating and developing the sailing club which we all benefit from today.  An historical reflection may help us to appreciate how lucky we are.  One of the elder statesmen of the club who I enjoy seeing is Arthur Burchett. He is the oldest member of the club, now in his nineties.  He is a good friend of mine who I look forward to visiting when I come down to the club.  He was born in 1925 and his father served as the second commodore of The Esso Sailing Club.  Arthur’s father had served in The First World War and was a Captain, who became a rifle shooting competitor at Bisley.  In 1935, long before the club was formed, Bill had a mooring on the north bank which cost him two shillings and sixpence!  I wonder what they then cost on the Hamble?  Arthur followed in his father’s footsteps and also competed at Bisley.  In 1939, at the age of fourteen, Arthur worked in the old Atlantic Gulf and West Indies (AGWI) laboratory.  He also worked at Hythe in the offices of BOAC.  He then did an engineering training course for fitters and turners, in Birmingham.  When Arthur worked in Birmingham he served in the Home Guard, winning a rifle shooting competition against a nearby platoon.  Arthur had wanted to serve in The Fleet Air Arm but it was his bad luck to be drafted into a coalmine in Yorkshire as a “Bevin Boy”.  He was discharged in 1946 and then worked in the cracking plant of the old AGWI refinery.  When the new refinery was opened in 1951, he was an operator until 1968.  Arthur qualified as an electrical engineer.  He also worked at Marchwood, in the Husbands Shipyard.  Arthur finally retired in 1990.  He is a very skilled and knowledgeable man, who has a very agile mind and an excellent memory.  I have spent many hours with Arthur hearing about his life.

The Early Days

The first “Ashlett Sailing Club” was formed in 1949.  In 1984 John Smedley reported that by 1949 there was a boating and fishing section in the oil company’s social club.  A group consisting of Don Tripcony Commodore, Neville Hinxman Secretary, John Smedley Sailing Secretary, Bill Burchett and Alan Robertson decided to cut adrift from the fishermen and call themselves The Ashlett Sailing Club.  When Ashlett Sailing Club was formed, the creek was owned by the British affiliate of Esso who had taken over the ownership of “The Atlantic Gulf and West Indies” company (AGWI), in 1926.  In 1949 Esso acquired more land from the Cadland Estate and commenced building the present refinery, which was opened in 1951.

In 1950 Esso suggested that the club should use the bottom floor of The Mill as a clubhouse and tender store, but required the club to be called “The Esso Sailing Club”.  The company stipulated the design of the burgee should be a blue flag with the Esso oval in the middle.  Understandably nobody was very impressed and after much haggling, Neville Hinxman managed to obtain consent for a compromise, the condition being that the ”E” must incorporated in the design which must be in Esso colours.

In February 2015 Pam Smedley passed away, she, together with her husband John, were among the founder members of the club.  They raced in an open clinker built dinghy and then progressed to an X Boat (the subject of an earlier magazine article). In need of more space they then bought an 18 foot 6 inches Bell Seagull sloop, followed by the Trident “Rhytina” that John bought as a GRP shell and completed in the boathouse.  Their sons, Alan and Colin, are still active members sailing the family boat “Sylfrid”.  Indeed, I believe that it is most likely that Colin Smedley holds the record for being the person who has the longest continuous membership, in fact since his birth in the 1950s!  In the early days the club was essentially a dinghy racing club.  A photograph in the centre of the framed collection in our clubhouse shows the door into the mill, (since bricked up), leading down to a landing stage and the platform at the end of the mill together with the flagpole.  The dinghy racing fleet then had a creek to race in that was not obstructed by many moorings.  Courses were set that took the fleet as far as Ower Lake and spectators could follow the racing with the aid of binoculars.  Racing was organised on a Wednesday and Saturday, when the tide served.

In 1949, Colin Smith, a member of the club, and his brother Stan travelled to Nova Scotia on the “Aquitania”.  On the voyage over they designed a twenty foot clinker open-decked keel-boat.  When they arrived in Halifax they built the boat and then sailed it back from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to Dartmouth, Devon.  They used a small upturned pram dinghy as a cover for the open cockpit.  Their voyage took forty-three days!  You can find a film on YouTube of them arriving back in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.  Stan wrote a very small book about their voyage; “Smiths at Sea: The True Story of the Smith Brother’s Adventurous Atlantic Crossing”.  Later, Colin also designed and built a rather unusual racing dinghy, the “Cheryl Peril”, for the two man centre board trials in La Baule. .

Ashlett Creek 2010.

Sixty three years after Ashlett Sailing Club was founded.

The quay with Mudge’s gun punt.

Reid’s house.

At this time the creek had a number of house boats sited along the south bank.  These included a barge on which John Street’s present wife lived, various ex-naval craft and some larger yachts.  Alwyn Williams, who has recently passed away, owned a number of different boats, during his time in the club.  The motor launch, shown in the photograph of the creek, before the marsh was filled with dredged material, shows his ex-First World War gunboat and also Arthur and his wife walking on the footpath. Esso required the house boats to leave the creek and it took time, effort and money to get all the owners to move them.

Peter Sutton

Ashlett Creek is a very special place for many reasons.  A significant one for all mooring holders is that Esso own the land right down to the low water mark (hence the whole of the bed of the creek) and not just to the high water mark, which is normal for land ownership.  The result is that control of the creek and the laying of moorings is under control of the club (delegated by Esso) and not by the ABP or any other harbour authority, as is the case for the rest of Southampton Water and the Solent.  The reason is that the Cadland Estate, of which Ashlett Creek was part, was at one time owned by Titchfield Abbey.  Monastic land extends to the low water mark.  Hence ownership of the bed of the creek was retained by subsequent owners; latterly the Drummond family and ExxonMobil.  Andy Sutton’s father was involved with discussions with ABP, following advice from Esso’s legal department, over the construction of the jetty alongside the slip, so he had a good understanding of the legal details.

Arthur Burchett and his wife before the marsh had been filled with dredged material

It should be noted that there is a public hard at the head of the creek and a navigable channel has to be maintained.  The Fawley Parish council has control of an area extending 50ft out from the edge of the public hard.  The club provides the buoyage which has to be acceptable by Trinity House and ABP (now Dubai Ports), who monitor that the channel is not obstructed.  There is a public landing to the south of the clubhouse and we are not allowed to place any moorings beyond the boom posts, where the 3 knot speed limit is marked on the starboard hand post, as this is the limit of the club’s leased area.

In the 50’s, Esso was recruiting heavily for young professionals and saw sailing as a strong attraction in a very competitive market.  Thus it took a great interest in developing the Esso Sports and Social Club and its offspring, high on the list being sailing.  This was encouraged by the erection of a boatshed for the Club, together with the toilet block in the mid 50’s. It certainly helped the club to have a few friends in high places who supported this strategy, including Austin (Tin) Pearce who later became Chairman of Esso and then British Aerospace.  The recruitment was a success and brought into the Club many young families, who nurtured a group of teenagers which formed the backbone of the Club in the 70’s.

View from the Mill showing the original club shed on the Bofors gun site.

The club moved its activities to the present site during the 1950’s.  The clubhouse then consisted of a green hut built upon piles over a former WW2 Bofors gun site platform, near to where the flag pole is situated.  This hut was used to store a few precious Club belongings, for changing and to make tea.  In the 1970’s a starting box was erected on top of the toilet block.  It was supported on steel girders that spanned the gap between the present clubhouse and the original toilet block.  The starting box had been prefabricated in the garden of Mike Harvey, the then Commodore.  Races were started with the use of a bronze cannon and a blank twelve bore cartridge.  Andy Sutton told me of an incident when the officer of the day failed to insure that the flap through which the cannon should have projected was held open.  You can imagine the results!  The cannon was about eighteen inches long.

The present clubhouse was built in 1973.  Club members paid three year’s subscription in one year, in order to raise the necessary funds.  The clubhouse toilet was established in the space between the clubhouse and the boathouse in about 1980.  Paul Passemard, who was a club member and deputy manager of the refinery was involved in the design of this.  The club has always relied upon members volunteering their time and skills to develop facilities and keep costs to a minimum.  Dave McKinley and Doug Wilson were very involved in the building of the jetty and Arthur and Mike Malone led a small team of membersin building the dolphin at the end of the jetty.  This was in about 1978/9.  It was about this time that the toilet block was extended.  When Arthur was offered a considerable quantity of concrete, at short notice, he endeavoured to recruit a work party to use it in extending the slipway.  Time was short and it resulted in Arthur and one other member working furiously to use the concrete before it set.

At this time there was a small pound in which the club was required to allocate two berths to the fishing section.  Providing this space became increasingly irksome and led to a little friction between the sections, resolved eventually by the fishermen graduating to motor boats which required moorings.  I understand that at one time the fishermen used a garage as their base.

You will see from the early photographs of the creek that the south bank was not protected with the concrete facing slabs that we see today.  I understand that the armouring of the banks took place in the mid 50’s.  The saltings were infilled in 1948.  I learned this fact from David Ride, a former resident of Fawley, who as a youth used to crawl inside the large bore pipe that delivered the dredged material, which came from the dredging that was taking place on an awkward bend in the main channel, near to the West Bramble buoy.  The pipe was laid in the channel known as the Twistletoe.  Later the Hampshire Water Authority needed to lay a new outfall from the Ashlett sewage plant and they used the “Twistletoe” as the route.  In the negotiations, the Club managed to get them to deepen the channel.  I believe that this was done in 1972/3.  It greatly improved the water quality in the creek as previously the sewage works overflowed into the corner of the creek opposite the mill.  Digging in moorings often resulted in toilet paper around your ankles!  Many members will remember the Twistletoe as a short cut with a goal post turn and a very narrow channel.  Due to rapid changes in the channel, this is now only navigable by canoes.

In the early days the club was essentially a dinghy racing club.  Racing was organised on a Wednesday and Saturday when the tide served.  In the 60s Fred Gale had a strong following of dinghy sailors.  He was very popular with the younger members whom he had taught to sail and then race.  Have a look on the shoreline where the dinghy pontoon is situated and you will see some concrete with a name and date 1969.  I understand there were plans to construct a slipway for dinghies here.  Fred left the club and was instrumental in creating Calshot Sailing Club.  In about 1974-5 a gravel beach was created in front of the clubhouse to make the area more suitable for dinghies to use.  This was done by members with the aid of the use of a dumper truck, which was kindly loaned by Fawley Engineering.  Jim Hopwood told me that members of the Sunday morning work parties had great fun driving the dumper truck.  Dinghy sailing activities included an annual outing to Gurnard for Cowes Dinghy Week and it became a major part of the race calendar, with everyone camping in the garden of one of the Gurnard club members.  The dinghy sailors were escorted over by the rescue boat on the morning tide for a day’s racing and lunch then back again in the afternoon.  Dinghy classes that were owned by members included the following; Flying Dutchman, GP14, 420, Laser, Topper, Solo, Cherub and a Fireball.

As younger members grew up and went to university and older members got older, there was an increase in sailing cruiser ownership.  The dinghy racing fleet was still very active until the mid – 1980s.  The creek now needed to have a number of fore and aft moorings and trots established.  In about 1981 Arthur was the mooring secretary. He has provided me with a photograph on which he has numbered the moorings.  Terry Martin told me how he and Arthur used “Zizzz”, Arthur’s Macwester 26, to move mooring blocks, suspended from the bow, into position.  Arthur marked out the site for each block with a withy.  He used a sixty foot length of rope to space out the fore and aft moorings along the centre of the creek.  About eight moorings were laid here for boats up to 26 feet in length.  Members who had a mooring allocated to them had to use two people standing on each block to both “jump” and dig them into position.  Another eight moorings were laid along the turn mark going east, but these were designed for boats no longer than 30 feet.  Apparently the initial moorings were designed for boats about 26 to 30 feet in length.  Around the mid 70’s the limit was set at a maximum of 30 feet.  In recent years due to changes in the channels in the creek, a number of moorings have had to be lifted and moved to keep the navigation channel clear.  An examination of the photograph showing the Nauticat 33 shows how narrow this area was forty years ago.

Mike Harvey, who joined the club in 1962 owned an Alacrity 18 feet 6 inches sailing cruiser, called “Seraphina”.  He later owned a Tomahawk cruiser/racer, called “Mojave”.  By the end of the 1960’s, the number of sailing cruisers owned by members, was increasing.  The necessary increase in moorings laid in the creek made dinghy sailing more difficult.  Gradually members created a variety of walkways and pontoons to provide access to boats moored along the south bank.  All members will be familiar with the club rule that all boats moored in the creek must not be longer than 34 feet overall length. This figure was arrived at in stages.  In the sixties and early seventies, Air-Vice Marshall David McKinley had a Nauticat 33 moored in the creek.  (Having heard some very interesting stories about this man, I read his obituary published in The Telegraph.  In the club he only wanted to be treated as an equal member and was happy to be involved in tasks such as clearing mud from the slipway.  I would urge all readers to refer to his obituary.  To say that he had a quite amazing career is to put it very mildly.  I was quite astounded at what he had achieved.  He was the first RAF man to fly completely around the world and to fly over the North Pole.  He must have been a very exceptional person and he was certainly very highly thought of by club members).  At this time the rule stated that the maximum length of boat to be allowed to moor in the creek was 30 feet.  This was deemed to be very unfair so the limit was raised to a nominal 33 feet. Some years later, a member bought a new Moody 33 and then found that it was actually 33 feet 6 inches.  I remember the AGM when the overall length rule was extended to an absolute maximum of 34 feet.  In the early days of the club all members had to be Esso employees and also members of the Esso Sports Club.  Associate members were allowed to join only if they lived in the Parish of Fawley.  I understand that for some years Esso required the club to allow no more than fifty percent of members to be “associate” members.  Thankfully for me and many other members this rule was relaxed.

The present security gate, near the Parish Moorings, was put in place in 1983 to prevent unwanted visitor’s vehicles entering and also to keep the horses safe.  John Ward carried out the necessary engineering work and Colin Dale did the welding work on the gate posts.   A high specification security lock was fitted and members were issued with special keys.  Other locks within the club were fitted to suit these keys and this is the system we use today.  Mike Malone gave me the original letter which Esso sent to the club agreeing to the security gate.  Mike was responsible for obtaining the club’s first tractor and he also organised the supply and building of the tractor garage, with the help of other members.  Mike also was responsible for sourcing, collecting from Fordingbridge and adding the plastic cladding panels to the outside of the clubhouse, which was showing signs of deteriorating, around this time. The cladding was added by Mike and others over a number of evenings.  The pound has been mentioned before, but in the mid-80’s it had clearly become too small to accommodate the members’ needs.  Permission was sought from Esso and also New Forest District Council to expand it.  Planning permission having been received, many work parties, under the leadership of Keith Robinson, constructed the new fence. Theft by outsiders was a big problem at this time and much effort was put into increasing security.  John Smedley sourced some concrete rubble and this was incorporated into the earth bank to the south of the compound.  One part of this project, plus a requirement from NFDC that the pound needed to be screened from the south, led to the development of the tree screen.  Iris Harvey supervised the planting of this screen over many weeks.  She was also greatly involved in the development of the flower boats, in front of the Clubhouse, in 2006.  A write-up by her on the gardening activities will be attached in the appendices.  The anchor in front of the club house was donated by Russ Bassett.  He and Peter Hall brought it down to the creek from Russ’s home, which was then near Basingstoke.

There have been many interesting personalities within the club.  Len and Doris Jenkins were active members in the 60’s and 70’s.  They owned a wooden sailing boat on the south bank.  Len was a very helpful and useful member who contributed a lot to the club and gave seamanship classes to the youngsters.  Doris was a stalwart in the kitchen.  She ensured that teas and cakes were provided on race days.  It was routine for the OOD to supply these and man the galley after racing, but Doris was always on hand to help or stand in.  She also provided sustenance during the work parties in the winter months.  I understand that Doris’ dinners were legendary.

The shallow depth of water in the creek means that most members have shoal draught boats, however, three particular deep-keeled boats come to my mind.  “Girlie”, was a Folkboat that was built by Dick Sougnez.  He first had to build a workshop at his home.  This was his first and only boat, which he maintained in an excellent condition. Doctor Colin Wood owns a Vancouver 32 and Sue Doyle owns a Victoria 30.  Both have made good use of the sea-keeping abilities of their boats and have made long sea passages in them.

Club activities have included a number of very enjoyable regattas, which have had evening entertainment featuring the ASC music group and Ray Woodason’s music group.  There have been many weekend cruises to various places, both within and beyond the Solent, annual dinner/dances, social events and, during the off-season, Sunday morning coffee socials and, for a number of years, bonfire-night events.  In past years some members have given short talks on a variety of topics, including binoculars, a trip to the Antarctic and the design of propellers.  Sue Doyle also ran a series of theory training sessions, designed especially for women.  These were then followed by a practical session on the water.

Later developments

I joined the Esso Sailing Club about twenty years ago.  I remember the rather frail pontoon with the rule that if the wind approached a force 6, boats had to be removed from mooring alongside it.  This was created from a number of pontoons that were purchased from Chichester Yacht Basin, around the late 80s.  John Ward and Jim Collis organised this project and John tells me that by buying a certain number of pontoons, the final deal included two finger pontoons and free transport to the public hard.  Some pontoons were sold to club members and this was the start of the establishment of pontoons on the south bank.  The club pontoon was installed in the area between the present pontoon and the shingle beach by a team led by John and Jim.  The pontoons were held in place by old 3 inch boiler pipes donated by Esso.  Hence the requirement to vacate the pontoon in very windy weather.  These pontoons were disinvested and sold off to club members when the replacement pontoons were established.  These were replaced in 2004 by a dedicated team of members led by Trevor Page, Steve Cox and Steve Daniels.  They refurbished a number of pontoons which had been purchased from Marchwood Sailing Club.  New piles were professionally installed in a new position.  There is a long list of all the people who helped with the project engraved in the concrete under the bridge to the pontoons.  After a number of years of use, it became impractical to continue to repair these refurbished pontoons.  In 2013/4, Trevor Ennion organised the much needed replacement of the old pontoons with the present professionally manufactured “Walcon” pontoons.  The pontoons were officially opened on April 24, by Dennis Skillicorn, a well-known former local radio presenter of sailing programmes.  Many visitors, as well as club members, now make use of this facility.

When the pontoons on the south bank were established there was a spate of vandalism and theft.  To counter this Colin Dale sourced a company which was then commissioned to install a professional alarm system that was linked via an automatic dialling system to Esso security, a siren and also a very locally based committee member.  Boat owners were then able to purchase and install a high quality alarm system and link it to reed switches on every hatch.  I fitted one to all hatches on my boat as soon as I joined the club.  This system is professionally maintained and is also used on all the doors of the club property.  Last year new security locks were fitted to all doors and new padlocks were fitted to all the gates.  We are now using the third change of locks and keys. The club also uses CCTV.

Until the mid to late 80s electrical power was supplied via overhead cables, on a series of telegraph poles from a sub-station at Fawley power station, terminating just behind the boat house.  Boats being laid up in the compound were thus required to have their masts taken down.  The mast derrick was thus very much in demand.  When the electricity cables were put underground one problem was solved and another created.  After feasting themselves on blackberries the starlings, who had previously deposited their guano on the ground, now moved to the rigging of boats and create an unwanted mess on many unfortunate vessels.

Each autumn quite a number of boats are lifted out by a hired crane and stored on the hard standing area.  To prevent the cranes’ outriggers from sinking into the hard standing concrete pads were constructed in about 2006, by a work party led by Tony Andrews.  The concrete blocks are a metre deep.  Tony was also responsible for the design and installation of the mast crane on the quay.  I once took a photograph of a member’s son rowing around the boathouse.  He was able to do this due to an exceptionally high tide.  To prevent flooding such as this, the area in front of the boathouse and the boathouse floor were raised, by over 30cm.  A flood prevention wall was built around the toilets and access for people with disabilities was provided into the changing room.  The replacement flagpole was made by Tom Hatch and benches, were kindly provided by Dawn Minard, to commemorate her late husband, Keith, who was a much loved member of the club.  It was he who invited me to join the club.  Sadly, he died from cancer while he was serving as our commodore.  In 2014 the compound lighting was professionally upgraded with LED flood lights.

 

Since the 1990s the club has had a website and over the years this has been enhanced several times.  To keep up to date with modern social media it also now has a “Facebook” page.  In 2015 a new Club Website was created.  This is a very useful asset and gets frequent use.  To save expenditure and to be more environmentally friendly, Creek News is now published on the website and only a very few are printed.  Alongside the website the club has, for a long time, had CCTV in use.

Many club members have been or are now active in supporting The “Alison MacGregor” which takes groups of disabled people out on trips around Southampton Water.  You can find out more about The Dolphin Trust, in an article written by Mike West, in a past edition of Creek News, which I will include in the appendices.

A number of members have been involved with the Calshot Lifeboat.  At least three have been coxwains and others have been crew members, launch secretaries, training managers and one was the press officer.  When John Street was a crewmember he was awarded a bronze medal for rescuing both a man from a boat in the creek and members of the Hamble Rescue crew who were in trouble on the sedge.

John Horton, who holds a Master Mariner’s Ticket, has owned “Penmarric” for over thirty seven years.  I believe that he holds the record for owning possibly the oldest boat in the club.  There are many other long standing members who I enjoy meeting and chatting with, such as John Street, John Ward, Mike Malone, Dave Young, Peter Hall, Jim Hopwood, Mike West, Brian Cornelius, Tom Brown and, Russ Bassett.  They, and many others, all have a wealth of local knowledge.  Many other members have also helped contribute to my knowledge and I look forward to being able to include aspects of their memories in future articles.  The Esso Sailing Club became The Ashlett Sailing Club in 2004.  Iris Harvey was responsible for gathering the information and producing the honours board, giving information about the club’s former commodores.  She asked me to help her with this task since she knew that I liked to explore local history.  I was able to keep in contact with Iris and Mike Harvey in later years, when I used to see then planting out the flower boats in front of the balcony.

Facilities around the compound, hardstanding, quay, jetty and (Marchwood) pontoon have been improved by the addition of water points that were installed by John Ward, Mike Mould, and Brian Oakley.  All the electric points in the compound, on the hardstanding, (Marchwood) pontoon, slipway and the original compound security lights were established by John Ward and Peter Savage in about 2004.

In recent years there has been a fairly dramatic change to the channel within the creek.  Mike Cooper informs me that it is quite possibly due to a number of circumstances, the most significant being that the eastern flap gates on the millpond have rotted to the point where the tide can quite freely flow both in and out of them, with no restrictions.  The jetty is also now in need of replacement and this is another major project that is being considered by the committee.  The upsurge in interest in dinghy sailing and trailer-sailing by the Drascombe fleet, and canoeing is now creating the need to reflect on existing facilities.  Keen dinghy sailing members of the 70’s used an artificial “beach” in front of the clubhouse.  Plans for the development of this area are now being considered.

Over the last thirty years a number of different members have contributed to producing up to date charts of the channel in the creek.  Peter Sutton, his son Andy and his brother carried out annual surveys and produced charts in the 1970s and 1980s, to help the dinghy racing enthusiasts.  I have included one in the appendices.  Brian Cornelius used to deliberately dry out his “Pageant” near to where the sedge ends and the mud flats begin.  He would then use his dinghy and photograph the channel and display the pictures in the clubhouse as an aid to navigation.  Richard Biggs produced a LIDAR image.  I have included this in the appendices. In about 2006, it became apparent that the main channel from the Fawley port hand buoy was changing in a significant manner.  A shell and gravel bank was forming across the channel, where it was marked by port and starboard posts.  The main channel now runs 062 degrees mag, and is marked by numbered buoys.  See the chart and photograph in the appendices for details.  The channel within the creek has, in recent years, changed considerably.  The “cut through” in front of the club balcony is now a major feature.  In the autumn of 2015, the creek was surveyed by some members of the committee and the new positions of the creek marks were agreed by ABP and Trinity House.

The latest projects which have been undertaken during the winter of 2015/6 is the completion of the writing of “The History of Ashlett Sailing Club” and the building, in our boathouse, of a catamaran raft for lifting and positioning mooring blocks.  This will be a much needed and very useful addition to the club fleet of workboats and doubtless be heavily used in 2016.

I have always felt very lucky and privileged to be a member of The Esso Sailing Club and then, since 2004, The Ashlett Sailing Club.  We ought not to forget that it is thanks to Esso that we are able to enjoy our hobby in the unique setting of Ashlett Creek.  We should not forget the considerable time, effort and devotion that many members have given to being active members of committees and work parties.  There are many “unsung heroes” amongst our members.  Please consider what skills and knowledge you can contribute to help make the club an even better place to be, where we can relax, meet friends and enjoy our leisure time.

Thanks to the help of many people and much searching, I have collected a number of photographs that show the creek over the last one hundred years.  I intend sharing these with club members by including a small selection in each issue of Creek News. Amongst the photographs that Arthur has given me there is a photograph of his father presenting a fishing trophy to Des Jones over fifty years ago.  (Des was a partner in a small boat building business, Randle and Jones.  They built a number of dinghies in a shed which was situated on what is now the small car park between The Hollies and the quay.)  I know that some members are very keen fishermen and knowledgeable in this nautical activity, but I have yet to find out about this aspect of club history.  Also can anybody enlighten me on when the first canoe/kayak was introduced to the club?  Jim Hopwood used his in the 1980s and he still has it.  If you can provide me with photographs of the creek and sailing club activities or information with dates and details, I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Finally, although I have mentioned quite a few members by name, the club would not be what it is today but for the contribution of many more who have given their time and effort to developing it into the happy club that it is.  I am anxious not to upset individuals by failing to include them and details of the projects that they were involved in.  I would be grateful if you would alert me to any omissions or mistakes which you think I may have made.  I hope that you have enjoyed reading this history and now have a greater understanding of what members have achieved.

Mike Gillingham   January 2016

Note.  I will create an email address specifically for this document so that you will be able to contact me and to make comments and suggestions for additions or corrections.  I will post details in Creek News and on the club website.

Please see below for more photographs.  Additions to these will be made periodically and a reference to these updates will be posted on the club website in the news section.

I wish to thank all the people who have given me permission to use photographs that they have kindly either sent to me or given me at various times and also The Waterside Heritage for permission to reproduce a number of rare images from their collections.

All of the relatively recent pictures have been taken by myself.  During the coming months I aim to produce a number of views of the creek in the “Then and Now” format.  I would be very pleased to receive either digital images or actual photographs for inclusion.

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