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Club - Early History

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How the Club Started...

During the late 60's various approaches had been made to LBC concerning the possible use of the abandoned and flooding excavation on the O/S site named Great Moor. It was only when the Army, through a Major Peter Mathews put forward their suggestions that the company began to look upon the prospect with favour. LBC were getting bad press for miles around for a number of reasons including swarms of flies breeding on the land fill, ex-works straw packing and brick dust polluting the roads ditches and hedgerows and last but not least the smoke from the kiln chimneys. It is true to say one needed a very strong pair of rose tinted specs to see through the adverse image of a soggy sticky moonscape and certainly a few of the club pioneers found, what they considered, better things to do with their time and energy.

Peter had secured the tenure by assuring LBC there would be no come back on the company in the event of an accident and of course the Armed Forces were in a position to be able to offer such with impunity. At about the same time Peter started a Marine Navigation evening course at Bicester School and by some coincidence the majority of students were trades people with an interest in small craft. In addition Bicester R.A.F. with their Officer Jack Domoney were invited into the fold and a pattern established with the forces being responsible for demolition and procurement and the civvies restructuring within the financial constraints of £Zero. Peter persuaded a local dignitary named Jim Pearson to accept a position as Commodore in a titular capacity while he Peter was acting Com (and very active). Civilian founder members included John Osbourne and Colin Thompson (Plumbing and Heating) Ken Smith (Carpenter and Joiner) Tony Blair (Electrical) and others included Harry Shepherd.

While the renovation of the site office (high roof) to provide a clubhouse facility was high on the priority list, we had to progress with the slipways as the water was still rising. Dave and Ken a couple of divers from Bletchley gave great assistance with a number of projects Later Benson Divers with their Dive officer Gordon Elsie who had links to M.P.B.W. at the garrison carried out additional Stirling work including the original scaffolding Jetty.

At a guess there is at least 6 meters additional depth of water from the day's work started so you can imagine the problems we encountered with erosion of the banks and repositioning of the waterline facilities. Peter had his own definite ideas concerning the internal layout of the club building of which one of the most time consuming and uncomfortable was the enlargement of the windows facing the Lake. With the onset of spring thoughts turned to "Pushing the Boats out" John and Harry had a brace of Fennec and the Army obtained 6 Fireflys some of which were sold to members. This little group together with a few others formed the core and started racing each other under Jacks beady eye from his unsheltered very cool eyrie atop of an aluminium scaffold, Unhampered by current legislation the social scene and après sail gathered popularity and the informal teaching of newcomers the basic skills (sailing) fell to those of us who thought we knew what we were doing!

These photos show the club at a reasonably early stage, The clubhouse only has one of its extensions, the boat park is smaller with a different roadway pattern and the areas round the lake have very few trees. The area that is now the lower carpark has not been developed at all. The "race hut" is a caravan!

Author: Tony Blair

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