Members' rights secured by once-in-a-lifetime deal

Christchurch Sailing Club has taken freehold possession of some 120 boat moorings from Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water Plc, concluding one of the biggest changes of local river-bed ownership ever seen in the UK.

Photo caption: Barry Childs (left foreground) presents the commemorative plaque to Commodore Rick Thompson. They are joined by previous Commodore, June Cooke (centre), and, from left at back, Vice Commodore Lawrence Crapper, hon. financial advisor Chris Wood, and secretary Chris Austin.

The club’s successful £800,000 deal with the company means it now owns a sizeable stretch of the river bed on the Bournemouth side of the Dorset Stour from Wick to opposite the clubhouse – and downstream to where the river meets the open waters of Christchurch Harbour.

“This is a fantastic achievement because it secures the future of the club not just in my lifetime but for future generations. Without these moorings we would lose half of the club,” commented Commodore Rick Thompson.

The 135-year-old club, one of the oldest non-royal clubs in the country, had leased the moorings accommodating its cruiser fleet from the company since 1951 but had long harboured an ambition to obtain the freehold.

The “once in a lifetime” opportunity came when the company agreed to open negotiations to sell over two years ago, starting with an asking price of £1.5 million.

When the two sides arrived at the final figure overwhelming support for the purchase was given at two crowded general meetings of the 1,000-member club.

The cash has been raised by a bank loan and members investing enthusiastically in a debenture scheme. Cruiser members are also boosting funds to help meet the big bill through substantial increases in their mooring fees.

But these are still below full commercial rates and demand for the moorings is such there is currently a waiting list.

The deal comes just three years after another milestone in the club’s history – the rebuilding and extension of its quay to protect it from future flooding and provide more space for its growing dinghy fleet.

At a reception to celebrate the latest development the water company’s moorings’ officer, Barry Childs, presented an inscribed plaque to the commodore. He was supported by other members who had taken on the lion’s share of the work involved under previous commodore June Cooke, notably secretary Chris Austin, treasurer Brian Storey, and financial advisor Chris Wood.