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A Brief Early History of Ulley Sailing Club



Rotherham Borough Council initiated the possibility of the formation of a sailing club in the Rotherham area in response to a nationwide initiative to promote water-sports on suitable areas of under-utilised water.  Although Ulley reservour is only a little over 20 acres, it was thought that this would be  suitable, situated as it is, only a couple of miles outside the town of Rotherham with easy access to the main population areas and on a bus route. 

In 1971 applications were invited for membership of the proposed sailing club by Rotherham Council and by December a total of 120 applications were received.  It was decided to limit the number to 60 applicants to be drawn out of the hat!  These lucky few were then offered the opportunity to take up membership.  Nomination forms for the election of a sailing committee were made available on request from the Waterworks Manager.

An Inaugural Meeting took place on Thursday 6th of January 1972 at which the club was formed.

Rotherham Borough Council provided a new clubhouse, car park and ramp access at a total cost of £35000! Due to the size of the water it was decided to set a maximum 12 ft limit to the length of dinghies used on Ulley.  The boats members used at the time were mainly National 12s, Cherubs, Gulls, Mirrors and a couple of Fireflys. 

When the length limit was increased to 14ft, this allowed other popular classes of boat to sail; i.e. Lasers, Enterprises, Streakers etc.  The joining fee was £5, single membership £5 and family membership £7.  These charges have increased somewhat but still represent excellent value for money - check out the latest fees on this website and grab yourself and family a bargain!

The club was officially opened in early May 1972 by Lord Riverdale, himself a keen sailor and boat designer.  He was introduced by Mr Dennis Hatfield, rear commodore of the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club.  Lord Riverdale was most impressed by the club facilities and ”the foresight, initiative and hard work” which had gone into the club.  He went on to say  “one day some youngsters who learned to sail here may be in the Olympic team”.  How prophetic this turned out to be with our own Paul Goodison winning the gold medal in his Laser in the 2008 Olympics.  The first commodore, Mr Bernard Roberts, emphasised the importance of youth sailing and safety which is just as relevant today as it was then.

The Mayor of Rotherham Council, Alderman Stan Crowther said that he was glad the opening ceremony had come in his term of office because Rotherham was very proud of the Ulley project.

The facilities were shared with the Sea Scouts who now had their own water for the first time in 23 years.  Rotherham Schools used the facility on a daily basis teaching children from local schools and adults sailing and water sports.  Classroom tuition was also available in the evenings for courses in navigation and open water sailing.

If you would like to be a part of our history, and more importantly our future, then download the application form and come along.