Mayor of Kingston being welcomed
aboard Walton Lady .......Pix:John Frye

Walton Lady passing the club's island home

The Small Boat Club, based on an island in the Thames, has celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Members and guests marked the occasion with a cruise aboard passenger vessel Walton Lady.

The club based at Steven’s Ait, just downstream from Kingston Railway Bridge, was formed in 1953 with the purpose of offering affordable access to boating for people of more modest means.

In 1960 the members approached Thames Conservancy, then the authority for the river, and asked if the Club could lease an old disused boathouse on the ait. The island has been SBC’s home ever since.

Initially including both sail and motor boats, the club thrived during the 60’s & 70’s but gradually during this period the sail owners migrated to more appropriate sailing clubs and it  became a motor boating club.

Forty years ago members were  able to secure additional mooring space on the Surrey bank and exclusive access and use of the downstream end of the Island. More recently the club has become agent for the maintenance of the upstream end of the island which had become an eyesore, overgrown and home to and unlicensed boats.

Following efforts by members to clear the site the club is in the process of securing a lease from the Environment Agency. This will mean the club can implement its plans for island improvements benefiting the wider local community like the recent purchase of a ferry capable of taking wheelchair bound guests.

Dominic Evans current commodore said:" It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to be Commodore in this very special year for the Club and yet again, the membership rose to the challenge of organisation.  For the day we put together a display of memorabilia, including old newsletters and cini8 film transferred to DVD, we marvelled at both the quaintness and indeed some of the issues that are still relevant today.

"As a not-for-profit club we have moved on significantly from those sepia days and photographs, yet still binding this elective group of disparate individuals is a passion for the river, motor boating and the island we are proud to call home.  The challenge for the next 60 years is to maintain the ethos against a backdrop of increasing commercial pressure that all similar clubs face."

More information on the club's website HERE or email for more information including how to join

Story dated June 28th 2013


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