by Rebecca Hannant
Members of Withernsea Boating Social Club will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this December.
In the late 1960s, a group of boating enthusiasts and fishermen founded the Withernsea Boating Club on part of the land that formed the Belvedere play park, which was offered by the local council for this purpose. The club flourished with boat owners, both local and from out of town, taking up berths in the compound.
In 1971, the club decided to investigate the possibilities of a clubhouse for its members and identified the disused lido cafe next to the old swimming pool on the South Promenade as being a suitable venue. After long negotiations with Withernsea Urban District Council it was agreed that the club should lease the former cafe, but for legal reasons the council required a separate private members’ club to be formed – and so the Withernsea Boating Social Club was born.
A small committee consisting of chairman Fred Jane, secretary John Clayton, treasurer Terry Bearpark and committee member Mike Hall was formed to run the social club.
A loan of £3,000 was obtained from Whitbread Brewery to be used for renovations and equipment and early in 1972 conversion began. The work was undertaken by the committee and friends and local tradesmen were employed for structural work, electrical work, plumbing work and heating installation. All the woodwork was undertaken by local carpenter Brian Theobald.
On December 13, 1972, the Withernsea Boating Social Club was officially opened by council chairman Jack Gledhill who said he was pleased that the town had gained a new facility for residents and visitors.
The first official paid-up member was Dr Tony Fouracre, and he was soon followed by many residents eager to try a new hostelry.
The club became very popular and at one time had more than 1,000 members on its books. There was regular entertainment at weekends and through the week – Wednesdays were especially popular with the locals, as well as hosting darts and domino teams.
Throughout the years the social club has remained a focal point in the Withernsea community and continues to host weekly entertainment for its members.
Like many establishments, the club has faced some difficulties following price increases on the cost of alcohol. Covid-19 has also made its mark on the club. Despite these challenges, the club remains a focal point in the community welcoming people through its doors each week.
Founder treasurer and former chairman Terry Bearpark said: “It was hard work at the time to get the social club up and running but it certainly paid off.
“I am glad to see it is still going strong and well supported. I hope it continues to provide many more years of enjoyment for its members.”
Phil Crocker, the current chairman, said: “I believe the success of the club is down to the membership – a group of likeminded people who want to come out to a social setting and enjoy themselves in nice surroundings that have a pleasant atmosphere.
“The management committee of the club has also been prudent during hard times and the members have supported that by not only using the club as often as possible but also raising cash and funds for the club through selfless acts.
“A member this year did a triathlon in Snowdonia National Park and raised over £550 for the club.
“Through the years the club membership has raised thousands of pounds for the RNLI, close to the heart of the club, and over £2,000 for Macmillan cancer research.
“Other local charities such as Child Dynamix and the Mice men also benefit from shows we put on with members’ support, and they choose who to give the money they raise each year. The club members support these events and give what they can to help raise awareness.
“This is a club with a long history, run by members for the members, and we have a short saying that sums it all up: it is your club – use it as much as you can because we never want to lose it. We want to be here telling the same story in another 50 years and that will not happen without the support of a strong membership.”
New members are welcome, and do not need a boat to join. Each week the club hosts live entertainment and karaoke as well as bingo and raffles.
As part of the celebrations, a 50th anniversary event will take place on December 13, with live entertainment from musician Hutch. The event will start at 7pm and there will also be a 70s fancy dress competition.