How the Club Began - A Brief History

Chipstead Sailing Club was formed in 1953. The lake is man-made, created by the extraction of sand and gravel by the then owners Walter Smith & Co. Local Chipstead resident Edgar Russell was enthusiastic to sail on the water and with another local resident Dougal MacEchern gained permission from the company to form a sailing club.

Although sixteen people were interested in its formation only twelve people attended an inaugural meeting held on the 11th March 1953 at Home Farm, Chipstead. Of these sixteen people three decided not to join and three - Margaret and Norman Edwards and Sam Whiddett - remain members to the present day.

Douglas Stern, Managing Director of Walter Smith & Co. became the clubs first president and took a keen and often practical interest in its activities. Edgar Russell became club secretary and treasurer and Dougal MacEchern became commodore. Membership was restricted to local people and staff members of Walter Smith & Co. By the end of the first year the club had 24 members. By the end of December 1990 there were 704 members.

The club burgee is a unicorns head in white (facing the hoist) above a wavy light blue bar in a dark blue field, it was designed by founder club member A.L. Rolfe, and was taken from the Coat of Arms of Chipstead Place, by permission of the Society of Heraldry.

In 1953 boat lengths were not to exceed 14 feet and the number on the water restricted to just twelve boats. Juniors were not to be in charge of a boat until qualified and approved by the committee. In the early years sailing took place on a working lake, amidst the vessels and cables used by Walter Smith & Co. Work stopped on the lake some years ago and it is now used by two clubs, Chipstead Sailing Club and Holmesdale Angling and Conservation Society who co-exist in harmony with each other.

In the beginning there was summer sailing only on three Sundays per month, the fourth Sunday was for the exclusive use of the Angling Club. Now there is racing on Saturday morning for Novices, Optimists and Juniors under 19 as well as a vibrant 'Saturday Chipmates Club' for youngsters wanting to learn to sail - or just have fun - plus a 'Cruise' for those who want to sail but not race. On Saturday afternoons there is a Handicap race and 4 concurrent races for the various classes of boat sailed within the Club. Similarly on Sundays there are 5 concurrent races in the morning and 5 in the afternoon for the other 'boat classes'. In summer racing also takes place on a Wednesday evening whilst in winter sailing is on Sundays with much training and coaching on Saturdays. For the disabled there is sailing on Thursdays in conjunction with Help the Handicap Sail and the Bromley Association for People with Handicaps.

A number of social events take place throughout the year including barbecues, discos etc., plus a carol evening, a Christmas lunch, a Children's Christmas Party and a New Year's Eve Party.

The present clubhouse (opened in 1976) has been refurbished and enlarged over the years and large picture windows overlook the lake. Its excellent facilities include ladies and gents changing rooms with showers and facilities for the disabled. A kitchen provides meals and refreshments and there is a superb bar, built by a club member. At the end of the clubhouse is "The Snug" a carpeted area with comfortable chairs in which to relax and discuss the events of the day.

The Club has always been run on a voluntary basis with no staff and that continues to this day. In Winter 6 Sundays are set aside from sailing for members to perform maintenance duties on the Club House, boat parks and grounds. Sailing duties have always been a condition of membership and include Officer of the Day, Assistant Officer of the Day, Patrol Boat Helm and Crew and Tea Making. Some 'work' whilst others play - but their turn comes around!