The Early Years
Before the Second World War a very few yacht owners were given permission by the Queens Harbour Master to lay swinging moorings at Upnor. During the war some of these moorings were used by the services and others were taken up.
When the war ended these yachtsmen had a hard time in getting their moorings back, but eventually most succeeded. At that time Upnor didn’t have a sea wall, you could walk straight onto a fairly sandy beach from the road. There were also a number of unofficial moorings laid during the next eight years at a time when the area was administered by not only the Dockyard but also by the Medway Conservancy.
In July of 1954 a meeting was called under the heading of Upnor Sailing Club, but as far as is known this venture never got off the ground.
In 1958, after a lot of correspondence, permission was officially obtained by Bob Kelsey to lay eight moorings on the low water line and in 1959 an additional four moorings were granted inshore of the previous ones making a round dozen moorings.
By 1962 the number had mysteriously increased to 20, and at the end of 1962 it was decided to form a club to administer the moorings held by the boatman Bob Kemsley.
The clubs name was to be Upnor Sailing Club.
The moorings were taken over by the Club and the Medway Conservancy granted the club a licence for 20 moorings, but this did not include private licences for the boats on deep water moorings.
All the work at this time, such as overhauling the moorings etc, was done by the members. In June 1969 plans were approved for building a new dinghy park at the top of the causeway, the work for this was carried out the following winter, before this dinghies were placed anywhere and a lot of damage resulted.
At a social get-together at the end of 1969, 27 members bought 30 guests and a profit of £2.19s4d was made. However cash was so short then that we had to call a Special Meeting at which it was decided that the Club would carry on, we even had unofficial talks with MYC about them taking us over, luckily these plans never came to fruition.
In 1970 a meeting was called in the back room of the Ship, there an announcement was made that we had obtained permission for the Rudham trot, the chain and tackle etc were obtained from scrap yards on the Thames, mainly around Blackwall and Gravesend, the anchors, four of them, costing £15 each were found during a snowstorm in Greenwich.
Rudham trot was the first to go fore and aft in the river, to do this we had to get permission from the rivers Fishing Association, which was only granted for one year. The cost of the Rudham trot was initially financed by Ken Barrett and was paid back out of the first years mooring charges. It was named after Chas Rudham in appreciation of all his hard work in the early years.
The same year, 1970,the Club applied for membership of the RYA and MYA, and George Dennis was actively engaged in drawing up plans for a Clubhouse, which we might or might not be able to afford. One plan was for an A frame type of wooden building over the top of the dinghy park, this had great support from the local planners, they even went so far as to draw up a beautiful plan, but in the end the Club just could not afford it. This was a period of great change in the Club, growing from 20 members to over 60 in one year.
Upnor at that time still had the wives of two or three Barge skippers living in it, one was still smoking an old clay pipe, many of which have been picked up on the foreshore broken where the Barges used to use the foreshore for laying up and for taking on cargo.
1972 saw an extension of the Rudham trot, not a year after it was first laid, also that year we were asked to take over the administration of the outer (private) moorings, but for them to still hold their own mooring licences. This was also the time when the administration of the Club was totally reorganised and placed on the present structure of Officers and Officials.
It wasn’t until 1976 that it was officially reported that Upnor would be redeveloped and negotiations were put in hand to purchase three cottages fronting the River Medway. In 1977, after the club got planning permission, Roger Edwards (Commodore) called a meeting, using the Rochester Sailing Club Premises, to obtain approval to purchase the three cottages for £6,000 and also to obtain approval to issue bonds repayable over 10
years. The members approved both proposals and quite a lot of money was pledged that night, the total, I think, was £3,500 increasing afterward to £4,000, this was a lot of money in those days.
Detailed plans were drawn up and we had to try and get the work done in two years, It was decided that we would have to have a work schedule involving all the members of the Club, the only people left off the Schedule were OAPs or anyone with disabilities but even they turned up to help out. The only time no work was done was when thick ice coated the scaffolding and the mortar froze. The members were fantastic, turning up in all weathers.
At the dinner dance in 1979 it was announced that the front roof was finished except for the flashing. The Clubhouse was finally finished in 1980.
That is how the Club and Clubhouse came into being, built by members for the use of members.
If it had not been for the hard work of members in those early days there would not be a club today, from Mudlarks to overseas voyages in 35 years isn't too bad!
Some Extracts Taken From A Document by Ken Barrett if you’d like the full document click here to read/download.
1980 to present day to follow.