Our Club's History

It is believed that a "Harwich and Dovercourt Sailing Club" first came into existence in 1907 and continued for several years based on Dovercourt sea front. Unfortunately, there is no evidence as to when or why this club lapsed.

On the 14th July 1927 a meeting was held at Mr. W. Garland's Workshop (Kindly lent to hold meetings) for the purpose of those interested in Yachting to form a club. A Mr. W Gay (Who was subsequently elected Commodore) took the chair pro tem and officers were elected. It was proposed and seconded that the club be called "Harwich and Dovercourt Yachting Club" At a meeting held on 22nd September 1927 it was decided that the title "Sailing Club" was more suitable than "Yachting" and the name changed. The club can rightly claim to be the oldest on the River Stour.

An arrangement was made with the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) for use of Phoenix Quay in Bathside Bay, originally constructed for use by sailing barges and accessed via Pattrick's Lane. Subsequently a shed for storage was also rented. The Club's relationship with the railways was cemented at a later stage by the affiliation with GEAAA (Great Eastern Amateur Athletic Association), which ceased with the nationalisation of the railways.

Sir Henry Burt. KCIE (Chairman of LNER) was appointed in 1927 as the first president. By 1938, he had been replace by Mr Donald Cann who remained president until his demise. At that time, the club had eigth vice presidents including two other members of the Cann family the renowned Harwich barge and boat builders. Captain B. Bowick was the Commodore.

The first Annual Dinner (A tradition still carried on today only pausing for the war years) was held on the 3rd November 1928 at the Phoenix hotel at a cost of 3/6d per head. At this point the club had a membership of 33 and was holding regular race meetings including ladies' and motor boat races.In 1933 a contract to build a club house on the quay was awarded to Mr C.W.J. Lewis for the sum of £52.10s.6d. This same building was moved onto a concrete barge in 1949, subsequently extended and now though defunct as a clubhouse, continues to serve as a water break for the new Clubhouse (Concrete barges were built during both the first and second world wars primarily for the conveyance of stores and water. Our barge was a World War II water barge. It is believed to have been moored locally and used to supply water for the Harwich based Destroyer Flotilla).

World War II saw the club's silver being placed in the bank for safe keeping and all the boats being towed to the area around Manningtree and Brantham for safe keeping. Obviously all club activities were suspended for the duration and the Military took over the Club's Quay and facilities. On the 6th July 1944 a meeting was held on Phoenix Quay to discuss matters relating to the derequisitioning of the Quay. On 29th May 1945, a committee Meeting was held ... The Club was "Back in business". The flood in January 1953 left a trail of devastation on the quay, 34 boats were damaged, and nine were lost. Despite this it is understood that members got some small boats operational and went to assist the rescue of many people from their homes in Old Harwich and Bathside.

In January 1985 the Club was required to move from its established location at Phoenix Quay, to enable to A120 road bypass scheme to be completed, which now encompasses Bathside Bay. The present location in Gas House Creek, on a site formerly owned by Sea Containers Ltd. and now owned by Hutchinson International Ports is permanent, following the successful negotiation of a long-term lease.

The Hurricane in 1987 saw the loss of several boats by sinking of which two were recovered and put back in service and several boats in the yard sustaining damage. On two occasions (Pattrick's Creek circa 1957 and Gas House Creek mid 1980's) the barge flooded, resulting in the loss of many records and memorabilia. The club would welcome access to anything that present or former members are able to provide and would be happy to take copies and return originals.

The Club's burgee was a blue diamond on a white background but in 1937 it was changed to the present burgee comprising a red cross on a blue ground surmounted by a white diamond bearing the Harwich Coat of Arms.

The essence of the club has always been that object established in September 1927 "To promote good fellowship amongst members, render mutual assistance & further the interests of yachting generally". In 1948 "To foster interest in boats and seamanship" was added. The current rulebook lists the object as being "The encouragement of sailing and to foster interest in boats and seamanship for recreation and sport".

The aim has always been to provide for "Affordable Sailing" for local people who basically could not afford the higher fees of the already established Royal Harwich Yacht Club (No longer located in Harwich). In latter years this has also become the resolve to retain the heritage and tradition of yachting in Harwich. To be affordable the Club has always relied very heavily on the trades' skills of its members and in earlier years the assistance from the local Railway and Marine workshops. The tradition of Tuesday nights being work party night began at on 17 May 1949, the minutes from that years AGM reading "After considerable discussion it was agreed that Tuesday nights should be considered as work party nights, commencing on Tuesday 17 May" This tradition continues to this day.

In 2002 the club had around 150 members and some 80 boats plus tenders. As part of the 75th Anniversary celebrations, then Commodore Frank Wellington said "At its inception and following the war the Club was very heavily committed to racing and the Harwich Regatta activities. The emphasis has to an extent changed. Modern members are more concerned with larger boats and family cruising either singly or in company with other club boats or simply pride of ownership. Racing still forms part of the programme as do barbecues and overnight stops in anchorages and marinas. Shore based social activities also form an essential part of club life well attended by members and their families".