Hedgecourt Lake

A problem early Mariners had was no where to sail, so they formed a Sailing Waters Sub committee, whose purpose was to find suitable sailing venues, including the possibility of the new reservoirs at Weir Wood and Bough Beech. The Water Boards were considering allowing sailing at these lovely new lakes, but other people wanted them for fishing only. Competition was fierce and local MPs were involved. (Eventually, sailing was allowed at Weirwood, but only in the winter months, and that’s a whole other story.) Meanwhile Crawley Mariners travelled. We sailed at Shoreham, Felpham, Chichester Harbour, Wareham, Brighton, and Lancing Sailing Clubs and almost any other stretch of coast with suitable launching. Canoe racing on the River Arun also featured in the programme. Camping and sailing over Spring Bank Holidays was also popular. Hedgecourt Lake is first mentioned in club minutes in 1966. In 1967 we were allowed to sail there on weekdays only by the owner, Dr Ashby.

Members had to pay an additional fee of 15s (75p) per year, and fly a club burgee for this privilege. 20 members took advantage of this offer. Also in 1967, we made a successful application to sail at Tilgate Lake, and acquired use of the Tilgate Hut which we used for storage and maintenance of boats etc. We continued to use the hut right up until the mid 1980s. Dr Ashby decided to sell Hedgecourt Lake in 1976, and after some competition from Mr Friend who by that time owned Hedgecourt Farm, our offer was accepted. We became a limited company in 1976, raised a mortgage (after the Treasurer of the day entertained the local Bank Manager to a rather good lunch) and for the princely sum of £32,000, we became the owners of both the lake and some surrounding land in February 1977. In those days sailing took place from the Mill Lane end of the lake, members having to tow their boats to the lake each time they wished to sail. We had the use of a rented field, known as the Bennett Plot, for car parking and a wooden site hut adapted for use as changing rooms. We also had a portaloo! It was not until we managed to get planning permission in 1986, that the move to the west end of the lake became possible we had moved lock, stock and portaloo by 1 April 1987. For the first time, we had a dinghy park, and members no longer had to tow their boats and rig from scratch every time they wished to sail. Although this has brought many advantages, it has completely changed the nature of the club, with more events at Hedgecourt, and much less travelling to other venues. Our clubhouse was built in 1995 and with the aid of a Lottery Grant electricity was installed in 1999. The Crawley Mariners Yacht Club greatly appreciates the encouragement and financial support that it receives from Tandridge District Council, The Surrey Playing Fields Association and The Sports Council