Fifty Year Celebration

Recollections of early ELWY

The East Lancs. West Yorks. Boat Club was formed in 1965 and was based at Finsley Gate, British Waterways Yard, Burnley.  Allegedly, the first commodore was a vicar!  Each year there was a blessing of the boats.

There is some correspondence that shows the club moved to Barrowford top lock sometime in the early 1970’s.

The first clubhouse was an ex Leeds & Liverpool shortboat named “Hippo”.  The club spent years keeping it afloat.  It was lined with concrete and tractor tyres were put underneath it.  At every meeting members brought their own bilge pumps and batteries to stop it from sinking.  At the1981 annual general meeting it was decided to break it up as it was beyond repair.  It was dragged three locks down to the car park, cut up and burned.  It took a full weekend by all the members to complete this task and the fire burned for three days.

Around this time the club was offered the use of an old building on the canal at Church, Oswaldtwistle, by members Harry and Ada Douglas.  The building was a former pig shed and was converted around 1981/2 using timber and windows from the “Hippo”.  This was a great success and was used for several years.  At Easter, Wheelton Boat Club used to sail up and spend the weekend with us.  We held inter club competitions and every year we were pulled down Harry’s field in the tug-a-war contest.

Up to the mid 1980’s we held a “June Jamboree” on the field at Salterforth.  We set up tables borrowed from the local chapel and put up hundreds of yards of bunting made by the club around the field and dressed the boats up.  Each boat made a game and raised money for club funds. A big barbeque was held at Salterforth the night before.

Around 1983 it was decided the club needed a better mooring. We eventually found the land we now use.  The farmer made up the lane and charged a year’s rent in advance which together came to £800.  We only had about £1,000 in the bank so a weekly fund raising effort started.  Three wagon loads of timber were bought for £50 and this was used to build the first stagings and fences.  Every weekend was spent building the stagings as the moorings quickly filled up.  The first mooring fee was £2.50 per foot per year.  On a Saturday evening all the children were taken for a dinghy sail to Foulridge and back.  If there were two dinghies (and the motors ran long enough!) there would be a race there and back.

When the moorings were first built we allowed a couple to live on their boat at the end of the moorings for security purposes.  A set of lights were rigged the full length of the moorings and Alwyn (Ollie) Jackson, our resident security man, ran his generator at dusk for an hour or two.  When Ollie passed away the moorings from the culvert towards Foulridge were named the Alwyn Jackson Memorial Moorings in his memory.

In 1989 the club started an annual day out for special needs children and their parents or carers from a school in Burnley.  We took them for a sail on the summit pound and provided food and drink.  This event lasted a few years.

On 18th April 1991 the club purchased the land and the right of way down the lane from William Arthur Bradley, Eleanor Margaret Bradley and Howard Henry Bradley for the sum of £30,000.

Around 1992 British Waterways agreed to dismantle the wooden stagings adjacent to Arthur Bradley’s land and replace them, free of charge, with bank master all weather stagings.  The bank master pontoon stagings for cruisers were replaced at the club’s expense.  The moorings have continued to be improved with the addition of electricity and water and, most recently, a new club house.