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2 The Clubhouse

Part 2 - From Cottes Way to Salterns and Developing the Clubhouse

Acquiring the Salterns Site

As early as July 1962, when the Club was negotiating to use Admiralty land but being denied any hope of developing it, a letter was sent to Fareham Council to enquire if there was any land available for a permanent boat park.

By the beginning of 1966, the Council's aspiration to acquire and develop the Admiralty-owned land at Salterns was known about. The Club contacted the Council to express an interest. The Club's outline requirement was for an area approximately 150 feet by 90 feet to contain a boathouse and a dinghy park. Shortly after, members of the Committee met with a representative of the Council, Mr Charles Benoy. By the end of 1966, the Council were awaiting Ministry permission to go ahead with their Salterns Amenity project and the Club was considered to have "staked a claim".

Between 1966 and 1969 the Club remained in contact with the Council as its plans for the Salterns matured. By the end of 1969 the Council had finished the slipway and was in the process of filling in the dinghy park. They had indicated where the clubhouse would be situated. It was noted with some disappointment that there would not, as originally proposed, be a separate car park for boat owners; there was going to be a public car park only. The news that Mr Spring was selling "Thatched Cottage" focussed minds on the need for a more permanent boat park. The hut and mast were left in position pending arrival of the new owner. As recorded above, Mr McHendry, Mr Spring's successor, kindly allowed the Club to continue to operate from his property until the Salterns site was ready.

Liaison and preparation continued through the first few years of the new decade. In February 1973 a special General Meeting was held to approve the final stages of negotiation with the Council leading to a move to the new site in 1974. By the end of 1973 a lease had been signed granting the Club use of the land for 50 years from 1st January 1974. The rent was £185 pa subject to review every 7th year. The first year was rent-free. The lease was signed on behalf of the Club by its three Trustees; Tony Short (Commodore), Alan Flack (Vice Commodore) and Bill Garment (Secretary).

The Club took possession of the new site in April 1974. The first tasks were the erection of fencing and gates and hardening up of the surface. This was done at a cost approaching £600 on a DIY basis. In June the Council gave the Club permission to move the shed and 20ft high signal mast, previously sited in the garden of the Thatched Cottage, to the compound. In his annual report at the 1974 AGM the Commodore said "Over 70 boats were parked in the compound and it seems that we shall eventually be able to accommodate slightly less than 100 when the clubhouse is built. These figures compare with about 40 boats which we parked near the Thatched Cottage last year". Attention now turned to the provision of a clubhouse.

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Compound and shed viewed from the east - 1974

The First Clubhouse

The first clubhouse was intended to provide storage and changing facilities and to support a signal station. The Cottes Way premises would remain the Club's HQ and meetings centre. After a chance encounter at the Festival of Sport in Fareham in October 1973, the Club's Commodore, Tony Short, wrote to the Secretary of the Southern Sports Council asking how to apply for a grant towards the building costs. By September 1974 the Sports Council had offered a grant of up to £1,010 toward the estimated cost of £2,500. This latter figure comprised the cost of materials and professional fees only as construction was to be almost totally DIY. The Club still needed to raise about £900. Members were invited to offer interest-free loans to the Club in units of £10 to be repaid in full within 5 years. This raised £900.


Original Clubhouse

Planning approval and Building Regulations clearance were achieved in January 1975. The Club had wanted to site the clubhouse near the front of the compound but, in preliminary discussions, Council planners had argued that it should be nearer the back ie the current location. The structure was to be protected with PVC-coated steel cladding. The Club preferred white. Reluctantly it had to accept grey for the ground floor. However, the planners accepted the Club's argument that the signal tower, for visibility reasons, should be white especially since it was sited, at their request, a considerable distance from the Solent.

Most of the building work was completed during 1975. By June 1976 the only significant task to be completed was fitting steps to, and guardrails at, the first floor. The total cost had been less than £2,300 and the Sports Council had provided grants totalling £713.

Utilities, Meeting Room and Bar

At the end of the seventies the Club was using two sites. Cottes Way was the clubhouse with water, electricity and toilets. The beach premises comprised a boat park with the small store/changing room/signal station. During 1979 and 1980 cable, water pipe and a mobile toilet (Rollalong toilet block) were procured and applications made, to the Council and the utility companies, for electricity, water and sewerage services to the compound. Water and electricity services were connected in 1981, the water initially to a standpipe. The total cost of providing water and electricity was about £2,300 with a little over £400 of this covered by a grant from the Sports Council.

During 1981 the Club came under pressure from the Council to sub-let Cottes Way to a playgroup. Planning permission for the use of Cottes Way as a sailing club expired at the end of the year. Veiled threats were made regarding renewal of planning permission and rent. At an EGM on 14 July 1981, it was agreed that the Club would vacate Cottes way at the end of the year.

Thus, at the beginning of 1982 the Club's home became the Salterns premises. The site had water, electricity, and a small building that could serve as a changing room, store and, with a squeeze, a meeting venue. It was with some relief that the mobile toilet was eventually commissioned during the year. The total cost of connecting to the sewer in Salterns Road and commissioning the mobile toilet was approximately £3,000. While laying the sewer and routing water pipes to the mobile toilet, trenches were cut to allow structural engineers from the Council to determine what the Club would require by way of foundations for the next stage of building, a new clubhouse/classroom.

By August of 1982 planning and building approval had been obtained with the extension on the preferred side, to seaward, of the existing building. As no Sports Council grant would be available, funding the £7,000+ project was an issue. The project was given the "green light" when the Club was offered an overdraft of £7,000 guaranteed by an anonymous member, coincidentally an intimate acquaintance of the Treasurer. Generous interest free loans from members helped avoid the need to make use of the overdraft.

Members constructing the Meeting and Function Room (Bar/Lounge) 1983

Pictured working on the new clubhouse above (left to right):
Ron Beach, Terry Pearson, John Wyatt, Tony Short, Nick Wyatt, Laurie Racey and Alan Flack


The new clubroom was officially opened by Ron McKendry at a prize giving evening on 10 December 1983. Ron presented the Club with a painting of Sir Alec Rose's homecoming aboard 'Lively Lady' off Southsea after his lone round-the-world voyage. The painting was signed by Sir Alec with a message of good luck.


Boathouse and Showers

In 1985 a concrete-block garage was erected to house the Club's Avon Searider safety boat that had been bought in 1978. At the AGM in November 1986, a resolution was passed to incorporate byelaws allowing the Club to obtain a Registration certificate permitting the purchase and supply of alcohol. A bar was installed the following year and by the end of the decade it was contributing approximately £1,000 pa to Club funds.

There were a few setbacks in 1987. Early in the season repairs to the leaking roof of the signal tower had cost almost £600. The signal tower then survived 'The Great Storm' on 16th October; unfortunately the clubhouse roof did not. The cost to repair the storm damage was in excess of £1,000; happily the Club was insured.

The local authority was unwilling to extend the temporary planning permission for the mobile toilet beyond 1990. So plans were put in hand to build new toilets and changing rooms integral with the main clubhouse building. By February 1989 planning and building approval had been obtained and the concrete raft foundation had already been laid. The toilets became usable in 1991 at which time the mobile toilet was converted to become the Bosun's store. A gas supply was connected in 1991 and by the end of the year the building was virtually complete. The total cost was more than £16,000.

Members Working on the Shower Block 1989

The final inspection was carried out by the Council in June 1992. In the same month, the Club obtained the planning permission to retain the converted mobile toilet as a store for 5 years.

A New Boathouse

By the beginning of the 1990s the Avon Searider was getting old; it was bought in 1978 and plans were made to replace it. At the Southampton Boat Show in September 1993 there was an offer which the Club found irresistible, a 4 metre Avon Searider with a 30hp Yamaha 2-stroke outboard motor for a mere £4,980 (inc VAT). The original intention was not to have two safety boats. However, it was decided to keep the existing boat as a standby and, if ever necessary, a second safety boat. The small boathouse could only hold one RIB, so the new one occupied the boathouse while the old one was stored in the compound under a tarpaulin. It was not too long before it became accepted that, having two safety boats, there should always be one available. The stowage arrangements for the No 2 boat made the task of getting it ready for use problematic.

The weatherproof metal cladding on some parts of the building had been put up when the first clubhouse was constructed in 1975. By the mid 1990s, despite painting and repair, some areas badly needed renovation or replacement. This was particularly true of the north face of the original clubhouse.

In July 1999 it was agreed that a building extension was needed to provide secure and weather-proof stowage for the safety boats, a Bosun's store and to cover the rear of the clubhouse. This would permit the disposal of the concrete block 'garage' and the portacabin and would eliminate the need for recladding for the time being.

Initial plans were approved in March 2000. At that time the total cost of the project was estimated as £7,000 (materials only - one estimate given to have the project completed professionally was £27,000+!!).

To make the boathouse fit inside the compound required a "tapered" design which was, to say the least, inconvenient. In June 2000, Alan Finding, who was master-minding the project, wrote to the Council asking if the Club could lease an additional small (12m²) triangle of land to facilitate a rectangular design. He had to enlist the help of the warden of the Stubbington Study Centre to contradict objections that the development would affect badgers and to point out that the local flora consisted of nettles and gorse!

A supplemental lease was signed in November 2000 increasing the total area of the Club's premises from 1,821m² to 1,833m². When the original lease took effect in 1974, there was no requirement to register the land. A subsequent change in the law placed "ownership" of all unregistered land with the local authority. Thus an unfortunate consequence of updating the lease was that the premises had to be registered. This and subsequent dealings with HM Land Registry significantly advanced the onset of grey hair and baggy eyes for the Honorary Secretary!

The boathouse was completed in 2001. Once again members provided most of the labour thus keeping the total cost down to £11,500. Although the National Lottery rejected the Club's application for a grant, Fareham Borough Council contributed £500 toward the cost of the project.

Boathouse Construction - Footings November 2000, Cladding February 2001, Installing "Pod" October 2001

A First Floor

Toward the end of the 2005 sailing season, in a crowded and rather sweaty changing room, a member turned to the Commodore, then Alan Finding, and suggested that more space was needed. Alan argued that, as boat spaces could not be sacrificed and the Council consistently rejected requests to extend the boundaries, "the only way was up". He considered it highly unlikely that Council planners would allow the Club to extend at first floor level, but agreed to find out.

In December the Committee discussed the benefits of expanding the shower/changing facilities by extending to the first floor and agreed that Alan, by then Rear Commodore, should establish if local authority planning permission could be obtained. The first planning application, submitted in January, was refused in March. Following an on-site meeting with Council Development Control officers (planners) in April, the application was resubmitted with minor modifications. To guarantee an adequate supply of water to the extension, a water reservoir was incorporated into the revised plans. These were approved in July. In November, at the AGM, there was strong support for the Committee to continue investigating the feasibility of adding a first floor extension to improve the Club's changing and showering facilities and approval given to spend up to £500 to have detailed drawings produced.

It had been hoped that drawings and costs would become available within a month or two leading to an EGM in the Spring of 2007 to authorise "go ahead". Drawings were eventually submitted for building regulation approval in July and approval was granted in September. There followed a rather hectic period of estimating costs, preparing a programme, publishing briefing materials and voting slips in time for the AGM in November 2007. At the AGM, by 52 votes to 19, the members agreed that the project should go ahead and authorised a spend up to a total of £23,000.

Phase 1 of the project involved completing all the major structural changes and reinstating weatherproof integrity. This was scheduled for June 2008 to make use of the longest days; most of the volunteers had "day jobs". The sailing programme included two "no sailing" weekends in June. More than sufficient numbers of members turned up to help; a lot of hard work was undertaken in the collaborative and genial atmosphere. The outside structure was completed and good progress made internally.

Members Working on the First Floor Extension 2008

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The rest of the work began at the end of November, after the "Frostbite" series had finished. By the beginning of December the clubhouse had only one lavatory; this posed problems for the Prize Giving/Draw and New Year's Eve social functions!

Work was completed by the end of February 2009. To celebrate and say thank you to all those who had helped, a social evening with a buffet was held on Friday 24th April. The total cost of the project was just under £22,000. Approximately £1,400 of this was funded by a County Council Member's discretionary grant sponsored by Councillor Tim Knight.

Telephone the Final Utility (sans Poles)

Water and electricity were connected to the Club's site at the Salterns in 1981. The sewers were connected a year later. A gas supply was connected in 1991. By the beginning of the new millennium the only utility missing was a telephone line. The Club wanted a landline. Mobile telephones and VHF radios had limitations. A landline could provide reliable, effective communication for emergencies. It would also facilitate remote alarming and, in time, internet connectivity. The Club had not applied for a landline as it had mistakenly assumed that this would be prohibitively expensive.

In 2008 it was established that the cost of installing a landline would be BT's standard connection fee of £122! At the 2008 AGM the membership approved funding to cover the installation plus a year's rental and call charges for a landline. In May 2009, BT erected five telephone poles. A local resident complained and, in June, a meeting was held involving Council officers, Cllr Tim Knight (FBC and HCC), BT and the Club. BT had mistakenly believed that the car park was "highway". It was not; they required local authority permission to erect poles. Cllr Knight made it clear that he would do all in his power to ensure that BT were not given permission to leave the poles in place. The Club agreed that the area would be better served ("Enhancing our quality of place") by a subterranean connection. It was agreed that BT would remove the poles and, to minimise cost, the Club would lay the cable. Cllr Knight suggested the latter as he was well acquainted with the Club's reputation as a DIY organisation; it was almost "a challenge". Cllr Knight advised that a grant might be available and kindly offered to support a bid from the Club.

At Cllr Knight's suggestion, the grant applied for was extended to cover the introduction of the intruder alarm system into the central area as well as the telephone line. The application was submitted on 1 October 2009. The grant was received on 14 October. The telephone cable was laid on 16 October. By 10 November, the Alarming Company had upgraded the alarm system. It took another six months for BT to grasp that the Honorary Secretary held two landline accounts, one for his home and one for the Club, and to stop alternately disconnecting them!

Cllr Tim Knight . . . . Cable Laying in October 2009

A New Clubhouse Ring-fenced Building Fund

Early in 2010, members were invited to submit ideas for the next 'Ten Year Plan'. One suggestion that garnered some support was to further develop the clubhouse first floor. The recently completed extension was a success. However, further increasing the first floor accommodation could provide an array of options including a lounge/bar with a spectacular view of the Solent. There could be merit in moving the kitchen upstairs and the men's shower and changing facilities downstairs. Other ideas included providing workshop space and providing stowage for sails, foils and spars. The meeting agreed that "Further Development of the First Floor" be included in the 'Ten Year Plan' and that a sub-committee be formed to progress this project under the chairmanship of David Grout, the Membership Secretary.

The Clubhouse post First Floor Extension as Envisaged 2011/2012

By the end of 2011, it had been established that Fareham Borough Council were not against the development. The next step would be to carry out structural surveys leading to an estimate of the cost of the project and, possibly, a planning application. It was argued that the earlier the Club began accruing funds the earlier the project could be realised. A £10 supplement to the annual membership and boat space fees was approved at the 2011 AGM on the understanding that the funds raised by the supplement would be "ring fenced" for project use. It was envisaged that the supplement would be applied for a maximum of five years.

During 2012 and 2013 the sub-committee investigated buiding options including a "steel shell" set into the ground outside the current foundations and sources of funding. By the Autumn of 2013 it had been established that a new building would be cheaper than building on top of the current structure and that a significant proportion of the project would have to be carried out by a contractor. Consequently, the eventual cost could be of the order of £250,000. As the maximum that could be obtained from external funding was 50% of this, the project was not affordable in the short term.

In time, the clubhouse would have to be replaced. Thus, at the 2013 AGM it was agreed that the "extension supplement" introduced in 2011 should become a permanent element of the fee structure. In future, 15% of each year's income from membership and boat space fees would be added to the ring-fenced "building fund". Putting funds inside the "ring fence" was authorised by a vote of the membership at a general meeting. It would, therefore, require the same authority before these funds could be spent. By the end of 2020, the building fund had a value of £31,828.

Meanwhile Small but Effective Improvements

At the end of 2013, with the rebuild now several years away, there was a need to renovate and repair the clubhouse in the short term. Improvements had recently been made to the changing rooms and the kitchen. It was agreed that effort should be put into renovating the main club room and the area immediately outside.

Bar and Patio Doors

Between February and April 2015, the bar was moved to the opposite end of the lounge and patio doors were installed with an electrically operated shutter. The alterations included several other improvements to the clubroom layout including replacing the weather-facing door with a window and providing a walk-through bar store.

Bar/Lounge December 2009

Bar/Lounge December 2019

Compound Expansion

In 2015, Fareham Borough Council gave the Club permission to move the western boundary of the compound outwards by 5 metres. This increased the compound area from 1,833 m² to 2,020 m² and provided space for approximately 12 more large boats.

New fence being erected in January 2016 to extend the compound

Lounge Carpet

In March 2016, a new lounge carpet was fitted. A proposal to introduce bi-fold doors between the lounge and the wetroom was put on hold. This was partly due to expense but the main reason was that the Committee was not convinced of the need for the extra capacity for social events.

Block Patio

In 2017, thoughts turned to renewing the patio. In August, through a Club member who happened to be a Director of Lambert Brothers, the Eastleigh-based transport and distribution company offered to supply the Club with 18 pallets of heavy duty block paving at a very generous price. The blocks were delivered in October. At the beginning of 2018, a team of volunteers began preparing the site. The old patio was lifted and the drive down from the garage was broken up. All waste material was taken away by O'Neill Construction and new type 1 material and sand/grit was shipped in. After establishing levels, laying and compacting both the sub base and the grit, block laying began late on Wednesday 17th January. Progress was initially slow but the pace soon increased. The then Rear Commodore, Allan Boutcher, reported that "at full speed it took four or five pensioners like me to provide blocks at the required rate". The patio was virtually complete by Friday 19th January 2018. The final phase, along the front of the clubhouse, was completed a few weeks later giving Seafarers a new patio that was second to none.

Patio - November 2017 and January 2018

Electrically Operated Shutters

In January 2019, new shutters were fitted to the clubhouse windows. The new shutters were electrically operated using buttons inside the lounge. At last, it was not necessary to brave the elements to raise and lower the shutters, and the task could easily be carried out by members who were not in training for the "strongest man on earth" competition.

Last updated 11:33 on 17 May 2024

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