Club History

See also:
Historic Photographs
(worth waiting a little download time)
London Corinthian Sailing Club Centenary History 1894 - 1994 by John Herbert, a spendid book, copies for sale at the club - see Brown Trousers an extract from it.
Snippets of Local River History

The club was established as the Corinthian Sailing Club in 1894, by a group of sailing enthusiasts who launched their boats from Bell Steps, beside the Black Lion pub and close to the Hammersmith and Chiswick border. In the early years the members were all men and used to meet at each other's homes to discuss sailing matters and racing. It was then discovered that a new member owned a pub closer to the City and meetings were promptly convened there instead. According to club records it appears that alcohol and sailing are constant companions throughout the club's 100+ years of life!

This stretch of the Thames tideway was also originally home to the London Sailing Club, who rented a clubhouse directly on the river between The Dove and The Rutland pubs. When the London Sailing Club moved down river towards Essex, the Corinthians were offered the lease of this building and changed their name to the London Corinthian Sailing Club. Boats were moored on the tidal water and at a later date on land when space became available.

For the first forty years or so members built and owned various designs and sizes of boats and a complicated method of 'handicapping' races was devised. During the Second World War the club was asked to provide boat and sailing training for the RAF. Celestial navigation classes were also started about this time by Dr. Olaf Bradbury and today the club is the premier West London centre for shore based navigation classes.

After the Second World War the club grew in popularity and became very influential in dinghy design and racing. The club has long associations with Uffa Fox and Jack Holt, designers and builders of famous dinghy classes (Fireflies, Enterprises, GP 14's, etc.). Other classes 'at home' on this stretch of the water included Swordfish, International 14's, OK, Merlins, Cadets, Mirror and in recent years Lasers and RS200.

Unfortunately the clubhouse suffered severe bomb damage by an unmanned 'doodlebug' flying bomb during the latter part of the war. Repairs were undertaken, but the structure's days were numbered. Due to significant bomb damage surrounding the clubhouse the Hammersmith Town Council decided that the area should be razed and public gardens created (Furnival Gardens).

The old clubhouse was finally demolished and in the early 1960's the London Corinthians were relocated 200 metres up river to Linden House, a gracious Georgian building refurbished for our use. This new accommodation provided room for future growth and a superb environment for sailing tuition and social functions. Simultaneously, secure covered accommodation for over 100 boats was constructed beneath a development of adjacent flats. Launching ramps, spacious pontoons and a race officers' "starting box" were installed next to the river.

Throughout the years the London Corinthians have welcomed a broad and diverse membership. We were one of the first London clubs to allow women boat owners and sailors to participate in this hitherto 'male only' sport! Rupert and Lucas D'Oyly Carte the opera impresarios and musician Leon Goosens were former members. Athlete Roger Bannister, scientist and broadcaster Dr. Magnus Pyke and naturalist Sir Peter Scott all sailed at the club. The reformist MP and author of the popular novel 'The Water Gypsies', A P Herbert, was a solid supporter of the Club throughout his life and his son John is the club's current President.

The club continues to grow and is experiencing resurgence in river dinghy sailing. Much of this is due to increased public awareness, availability of club owned boats for members to hire and the popular 'come and try it' weekends that encourage novices onto the water for the first time.

The club is committed to expanding recreational sailing and racing on the Thames and a number of initiatives are being brought forward to safeguard the long term future of this sport on the tideway.

Our offshore group continues to grow and this year several teams have entered the prestigious Fastnet race. Various rallies, treasure hunts and races are organised on the South Coast, with charter cruises further afield. The club has expanded its shore based theory classes and now offers a wide range of RYA courses, including Yachtmaster and Day Skipper. The club's social events at Linden House are very popular and both informal and formal events are organised throughout the year.

Future plans - the clubhouse

In the early 1990's it became patently clear that the club's landlord, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, were financially stretched and unable to adequately maintain Linden House. The Corinthians were offered the opportunity to purchase the building and successfully obtained one of the early Sports Lottery Fund grants to defray the purchase costs and refurbishment of the structure. Matching donations were raised by the membership and in 1996 the club were in a financial position to proceed.

The Council procrastinated over the agreed sale and then announced they were considering relocation of the club elsewhere, with a view to selling the building for a higher amount once vacant. A successful newspaper, television and radio campaign instigated by the club in early 1998 raised public and political awareness of the problem and the Council explored other solutions.

The current proposal endorsed by Sport England and the Local Authority involves the club purchasing the building and sharing their facilities with a neighbouring rowing club, Sons of the Thames. Although this will reduce the overall amount of useable dinghy storage space to about 80 - 90 boats, the clubhouse will gain a purpose built sports gymnasium. During the spring of 1999 both clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the co-location proposals.

Our long-term aim is for Linden House to become West London's premier water sports club, offering members the opportunity to participate in Thames dinghy sailing, rowing, comprehensive offshore yachting and other complementary activities.

We welcome your interest in the club and its history and look forward to meeting you at Linden House or on the water. Happy sailing!

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 13 Feb 2002