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Dell Quay Sailing Club 1925 - 2015

Dell Quay Sailing Club

1925 - 2015

Celebrating 90 years of DQSC



Dell Quay Sailing Club has played a significant part in the lives of many people. Set in Chichester Harbour, an area of natural beauty, the club has unique historic club buildings and has engendered family sailing since 1925. These have all contributed to creating a unique atmosphere.

This History sets out to capture stories and memories of the club before they are lost forever.

To help build and capture the club's history you are invited to submit stories and articles; especially those related to earlier years at the club. Photos and drawings are also very welcome.
Chris Sprules

History of Dell Quay

In Roman times, Chichester Harbour was navigable all the way to Fishbourne and Roman galleys may have sailed right up to the Fishbourne Palace.

Dell Quay became one of the more important landing places within Chichester Harbour. Evidence suggests that the Romans had a small port at the head of the Fishbourne Channel and built a military base there, probably between AD45-75. They also brought in boats on the south side of the Manhood Peninsula, probably at Pagham Harbour. It is possible that Dell Quay was in use at this early period due to its close proximity to Chichester whilst still providing some depth of water at low tide. Interestingly, there is evidence for a Roman tile works near Dell Quay.

After the Norman Conquest, and the development of Chichester as the principal settlement, Dell Quay became one of the five main ports for Chichester, the others being Itchenor, Birdham, Bosham and Fishbourne.

Sea levels in the harbour were higher in the Middle Ages than in present days and there are records of losses of land to the sea. The Great Flood of Apuldram occurred in 1274 and additional sea walls and sluices were installed after that. The former existence of a tide mill on the River Lavant near Apuldram Common is an indication of the level of the sea at that time at the northern boundary of the parish.

From the early 13th century, Dell Quay rose in importance. Cargoes of grain, timber and wool were among the goods exported, and imports included coal, wines, cloth and building materials. At about this time, a Chapel of Ease was built at nearby Apuldram, presumably to support the growing local population. In 1353, Chichester became a Staple Port, that is, one officially empowered to deal with the export of wool.

In 1397, the boundaries of the Port of Chichester were said to be Romney in the east and Havant in the west and this seems to have been the pattern until the reorganisation of the 1670s. Within Chichester Harbour, Dell Quay was the only official 'Port of Landing' for foreign trade, but there were other minor ports in Sussex, subordinate to Chichester, and even within the Harbour and its environs, there were a number of authorised 'creeks' where trade could be carried on.

The landing place was moved down channel due to silting of the upper reaches and for a time there was access to the harbour a little to the south of the mouth of the Lavant. Here, there was a sunken channel, now dry, which led to the centre of the medieval Apuldram village. There is also evidence of a landing place at La Delle. A rent list, dated 1432, records a villein whose duties included "to cart from La Delle to Chichester". Exports in the 14th and 15th centuries were mainly wool and cloth.

In the 16th century, Lord Fitzwilliam of Cowdray, High Admiral 1536-40 built a wharf at Dell Quay, described as Chichester's "very faire haven". In 1580 it was written that the wharf had been "longe sythens buylded by the Lord Fitzwilliam". The Quay was at that time the only official landing place for the Port of Chichester, which in the 14th century was rated the 7th in importance in all England. At that time there were no warehouses at Dell Quay and no inn. The citizens of Chichester gave this as a reason for asking permission to dig a canal from the Quay to the town. An act was passed in 1585 to allow the digging of a canal along the course of the River Lavant to the city's West Gate, but the work was never undertaken. By this time, the principal export commodity had changed from raw wool to cloth, and the chief import was wine.

A condition of the canal was that it must not cut through lands belonging to 'the Baron' (Howard of Effingham), and this made the scheme impractical. Instead, the picturesque Crown & Anchor Inn was built at the end of the 16th century and seems to have been called initially 'Dell Key House' (not to be confused with the present Dell Quay House, which incorporates William Tipper's post mill built in the eighteenth century, the subject of paintings by Richard Nibbs and George Lambert.

During the 17th century the channel needed constant attention. Ships offloading ballast as they approached the quay added to the problem. However, after an intensive programme of dredging, ships of 40 tons could, in 1685, once again dock at the quay.

In the 18th century, land communications had improved including the construction of The Chichester to Cosham turnpike in 1762, which helped Emsworth develop, and The Chichester to Dell Quay turnpike in 1779. During this century, The Crown and Anchor Public House and the adjoining Gate House were both built. In 1790 a miller insured his windmill at Dell Quay and an old drawing in the possession of the owner of Dell Quay House shows that the windmill was a post mill with a brick or stone round house.

In the 18th century, coal from Newcastle became the major import and the outlook was graced by three large coal pounds on the quay, by the inn and on the site of what is now Quay Cottage. There was a crane, which in 1789 was said to be "much out of repair, useless and obstructive". The amount of goods delivered varied over the years. 2128 tons in 1786, 4085 in 1793, 2771 in 1800, 3043 in 1807 and 3602 in 1813.

The Tithe Map of 1838 shows the circular base with a large house adjoining it presumably the mill owner's own residence. The opening of the Chichester Canal in 1822 enabled goods to be brought directly into Chichester by barge. It appears likely that the brick store on Dell Quay, recently repaired and now used as offices, was built during this time. References in 1807 and 1810 to a "large square built post mill, will grind seven loads per week" confirm the continued use of the mill. By 1836, some 40% of all coastal cargo was handled through Emsworth compared with 28% at Dell Quay and 11% at Chichester Canal basin.

The coming of the railways in the 1840s connected Brighton, Chichester and Portsmouth along the south coast and, from this date onwards, Dell Quay, the canal and indeed all boat based transport began to decline. The mill had ceased operation by c.1870. As the mill is not shown on the 1813 Ordnance Survey map it is possible that the 1790 mill had been demolished and another erected by 1823/4, recorded on Greenwood's Map of Sussex.
By 1908 there was a steam driven crane, running on rails, which was later replaced by a diesel powered crane.

By the mid-1920s, the canal basin in Chichester had been cut off from the Harbour because the old swing bridges had been replaced by permanent structures. Almost no trade came through Dell Quay, and commercially Chichester Harbour was all but dead.

From the 1930s onwards, only the occasional barge arrived at Dell Quay and the Harbour became a pleasant backwater, its peace and quiet enjoyed by the increasing number of small-boat enthusiasts. Before 1968, possibly in the late 1930s or early 1950s, the miller's house was demolished and the round house of the mill subsumed within Dell Quay House. The swimming pool of the house marks the site of a former salt panning pond, shown on early maps, which ceased production in c.1840.

A gale in August 1925 wreaked havoc with moored boats. Owners struggling to refloat their craft realised that co-operation would ease the task and this led to the formation of the Dell Quay Boat Club. The name was changed to the Dell Quay Sailing Club in 1934. Today it is a thriving club, renowned for its friendly atmosphere. Also located on the quay are the Apuldram Fishing and Boat Club and a classroom for the Chichester Harbour Education Centre.

Dell Quay is now used by DQSC sailing club, Fishing Club and there is also an education centre in one of the buildings for visiting schoolchildren. The early 19th century brick store remains, now modernised, and adjacent are two more vernacular buildings, weather-boarded with tiled roofs. Otherwise the buildings appear to be modern. Sailing boats are pulled up onto the quay or the adjoining beach in a pleasing array of masts and ropes. The Crown and Anchor Public House is a popular venue, with its large outdoor sitting area and stunning views over the water.

Thanks to Wikipedia for this background information

Early Days of Club

In August 1925 a gale close to the Great Storm of 1987 wreaked havoc among the boats moored at Dell Quay. The disaster inspired a spirit of camaraderie among the boat owners, formalised some two months later when 26 of them formed the Dell Quay Boat Club under the presidency of Fred Sadler, with the Rev Meredith Baker and his wife hosting the meet.

A well attended meeting of private boat owners at Dell Quay was held at the Boathouse with a view to forming a club. A total of 26 founder members were then enrolled at a subscription of £1 per year and associate members with an entrance fee of 1 shilling and a yearly subscription of 7/6d

Through its first decade the club gradually progressed its minute books recording such momentous happenings as authorisation to the treasurer to reward with one shilling (5 pence) anyone who recovered a drifting boat and to the steward to purchase a lock for the ladies lavatory.

By the mid 1930s, in a period of growth when membership rose sharply, it began to take on the form familiar today. Dick Tomsett (President Dec'd) recalled that there was no racing on Saturdays as the City's tradesmen could not escape their business duties. Meanwhile, the wind, on some occasions, made it necessary to cancel racing activities.

By 1934, its name was changed to Dell Quay Sailing Club and is still an unincorporated body (association) with all leases being held by Trustees and about this time the yellow over red burgee (custard over jelly) was adopted, the club joined the Harbour Federation and regular dinghy racing was organised.

Club Burgee

A year later came the first regatta. It didn't quite take the modern form, for swimming and diving events featured as prominently as sailing and a constable had to be drafted in to control the traffic to the quay and ensure the safety of the spectators.

This marked the beginning of a serious dinghy racing tradition and just two years on, in 1937 Commander CNE Currey a revered name in harbour sailing history, wrote of his hope that the annual race for the Dell Quay Quart a trophy he and his son Charles bought for the club with their prize money from the 1936 12 foot regatta race "would become the Southern Dinghy Blue Riband Championships". It came pretty close to that, with fleets of 70 plus Fireflies and National 12's completing in the 1960's.

At a meeting called on the 23rd February 1940 it was reported that it was not possible to call an AGM due to "the present day circumstances". The club then appeared to close down until the 26th January 1945 when a new General Committee was formed and met in the Tudor Café.

Before the war the Club was sub lessee of an old, weather board and tiled structure, (picture available). Built as a cottage on the Quay in the 17th Century (I believe). There are no records that it was ever lived in, being of more use in the management of the Quay. The quay was at the time owned by Chichester City Council and the head lessee, before, during and after the war, was a local Company named Sadler.

During the war nearby fields were used by the RAF concerned with the invasion of Europe in 1944. An Anti-Aircraft gun for the defence of the airfield was located on the Quay and the firing of the gun in close proximity to the old building resulted in damage to the structure such that it had to be demolished. It seems incredible that though the club committee existed at the time there are no references to these events in the minutes. One concludes that the members never went near the place no doubt the RAF and the RN between them discouraged visits but there were local residents, one of whom was a Committee member

Thanks to Fred Dickin for this entry

Dell Quay Sailing Club Regatta Programme 1946

However, by 1946 things were up and running again as shown by this programme for the Dell Quay Sailing Club Regatta, kindly donated to the club in 2015 by Mrs Frances Potter from her father, John Widdows papers.

DQSC Regatta 1946 page 1

Frances wrote:

Our father's name was John Widdows and he was a solicitor with Thomas Eggar in Chichester from 1934 until his retirement in about 1970. Of course I remember quite a few of the other boat owner's names in the programme too.

At that time I was 9 years old and I have fond memories of him teaching me to sail a Whiteways Scow at Dell Quay. We later moved to West Wittering and sailed Sharpies, Fireflies and Dragons at Itchenor but I always had the happiest memories of Dell Quay where he learnt, more taught himself through trial and quite a lot of error, to sail. He would be so pleased to know that his 15 year old great grandson is a very keen Feva sailor.

Arthur Ransome

1954 proved to be last year of Sailing for Arthur Ransome and his wife Evgenia and their boat Lottie Blossom. Famous for writing children's adventure books the first of which was "Swallows & Amazons". The Spectators review in 1930 stated "The only thing he does not give away is the whereabouts of Wild Cat Island. Probably it is one of those little creeks round Chichester"

Arthur Ransom

The 1950s at Dell Quay were captured on film and can now be seen on youtube [coming soon]

That was characteristic of Chichester harbour racing in the post-war years. Entries for Dell Quay's regatta topped 200 reaching 238 in 1965, whilst as early as 1948, there had been challengers from Portugal, Holland and Sweden for the International 12 Square metre Sharpies Connaught Trophy Race. It was at the 1946 Regatta that the menu was Cakes and Tea (bread was on ration, so sandwiches were out) and a new clubhouse was built in 1951 to replace the one damaged irreparably during the war allegedly as a result of the shaking caused by the ack-ack gun defending the Apuldram airfield.

A much more poignant record dates from 1946, when activity resumed after a wartime break. The club decided to inscribe the name of Captain Tom Harris on the Martell Trophy which he had been in line to win when the outbreak of hostilities curtailed the race series. The talented young sailor had been killed in action.

Dell Quay members have scored notable successes into much more recent times winning world, European, National and area championships as well as many open meetings. Most notably, Bryan Taylor and Robin Pascal, 470 champions in 1985, went to the 1988 Olympics at Seoul though as reserve boat they weren't called on to sail. (Update from Jane Pascal May 2013, Bryan and Robin split after the Olympics. Bryan no longer sails, but Robin has remained a very keen sailor. He teamed up with his brother Martin, also a Dell Quay member for many years, and eventually they changed from 470's to International 14's, which have a fleet at Itchenor. They take part yearly in the International championships and are off to Canada later this year)

The Mitchell brothers Steve and Ian, who learned to sail in a Mirror in Dell Quay's junior fleet, have mantelpieces groaning with trophies for heading the world's top racers in the 505, Laser 5000, Ultra 30 and Etchell classes. Steve Mitchell, now a national match racing coach, helped train the 2000 highly successful British Olympic sailing squad.

Steve Mitchell crewed Iain Percy at the 2002 Star World championships and won also finished 6th in the 2004 Athens Olympics. His elder brother Ian Mitchell crewed Mark Upton-Brown in the International 505 to win the world Championships in 1997 and 2006.

It is also thought that, George Kennet world champ in the Mayfly, Jo Green, world woman's champ in the Solo and even Rodney Paterson (Flying Dutchman) were members at one time.

Others have done well in activities ranging from Tall ships youth sailing to sail training in the UK and abroad, and among celebrated former members is Peter Milne, designer of the successful International Fireball dinghy whose prototype was trialled at Dell Quay. The Fireball was one of the club's sponsored classes for years, as were the Firefly, Sharpie, Solo and Wayfarer.

Fishing at DQSC
No longer do members fish competitively at Dell Quay and long gone are the days when almost a hundredweight of fish was hauled in at one notable contest, with a single cod weighing in at 18lbs at another. One trophy for winter catches was a pair of rubber boots, and another, for the luckiest catch was called the 'Golden Hooks'.

Thanks to Michael Dawson for the 1963 Rules

Later the building became too small for the burgeoning membership and a £14,000 extension was opened in 1968 by the Duchess of Norfolk. This included, for the first time, a bar as well as a larger clubroom, better changing rooms and the essential showers and lavatory for which members had argued forcibly for years.

DQSC First extension 1968 DQSC First extension 1968

In about 2008 Richard North one of the clubs long standing members sat down with Dick Tomsett and interviewed him. The audio tape is in the clubs archives. Dick was recalling the early days of the Club when (Frank) Sadler ran his corn business from the Quay. All of which was leased from Chichester City Council. As the years went by the business slowed and eventually stopped. The Sadler family had already allowed the Club to utilise some of the buildings on the Quay but still had a strong affinity with the Quay. Conversation with the City Council led them to offer to sell the Quay to the Sadler family without which the Quay would have become a financial burden on the Council. Despite good intentions on both sides when submitted to the Ministry it was turned down. It was at this stage despite approaches from adjacent boat yards that the decision was made that DQSC would be offered the lease thus allowing to continue and take its next step in development

Extract from John North's audio tape with Dick Tomsett

Opening of Club House

There has been one further extension, renovations to the Sail loft and ongoing refurbishment.

There were lots of amusing incidents throughout the clubs history Fred Dickin recalls the time when plywood penguins were set on the harbours frozen water during the winter of 1962-63, while Dell Quay has also featured in episodes of Minder and the Sweeney and even in James Bond film 'A View to a Kill' in which Grace Jones starred as baddy May Day alongside Roger Moore. Former Commodore Kevin Ridgeway lets out a secret of the filming where the effect of a fisherman stranded high and dry in his boat when a nuclear blast emptied the harbour was rather spoiled when he said "if you looked carefully in the mud you could see footsteps leading to the boat"

Thanks to Liz Sagues for this chapter much of which was extracted from the article she wrote in the November 2000 CMB Observer celebrating DQSC 75th Anniversary

Thanks to Mrs D Williams (1963) "The big freeze"

James Bond, View to a Kill

My Chichester Harbour was a community project celebrating 40 years of the Conservancy this link will take you to more stories from Dell Quay

Club Buildings

The club comprises three buildings on the quay with the land being leased from Chichester Harbour Conservancy

Club House

The Club House was built by club members over 60 years ago (1947 but with no galley and extended in 1970) and consists of a single storey building containing the main clubroom, galley, licensed bar, lounge and toilets. The galley was refurbished in March 2010 followed by the lounge in May 2011. The changing rooms and showers were moved from their original location on the ground floor (where the new lounge is) to a newly constructed area above the bar/lounge which resulted in a two storey structure accessed via external steps. The clubroom opens onto a terrace comprising part of the original stone and concrete structure of the quay, which has been expanded by the club with timber veranda extending over the sea. The terrace links to the timber jetty, the first part of which was constructed in 1963. Construction appears to be of brick, with supporting concrete beams, part fireboard clad asphalt roofing. The galley section is timber framed structure.

Dell Quay about 1900.

Clubhouse 1954

Original Galley

Originally the end of the bar in the lounge was the galley. Galley duty involved the preparation of food, often at home, running the galley and making sales to members. Tea was also available for members. Eventually a new galley was built and the galley became part of the bar

Sail Loft

This is a historic brick building, with concrete floor, timber upper floor and slated roof and is believed to have been built between 1825-1850. The Quay and surrounds from part of the Conservation area and the Sailoft is designated as a Positive Building it is recorded as such in the Townscape Appraisal map and as with listed buildings, there is a general presumption in favour of their retention.

There is a requirement that the public are allowed access for a maximum of 6 days per year until 2014.

Originally this was Sadlers grain store, when the Quay was still in active use by coastal vessels. Sadlers had a vast shop in East Street, which was later sold to become Sadlers Walk. Fred Sadler was our first President, and leased the Quay from (then) Chichester Corporation, hence our permission to use the building for an annual rent of £10 then.

At one time we had an opportunity to purchase the building but it fell through, so eventually the building, after several moves, became the responsibility of the Conservancy. At the time of the restoration of the workshop/sail loft building, English Heritage contributed on condition the sail loft was made available '"for community use".

Black Shed

The timber and felt shed, originally a grain warehouse, was given to DQSC by Sadler's Corn Merchants. It is a wooden structure sitting on raised concrete pillars. Due to the problems with the steel supporting the floor, the sub-structure of the black shed was filled with low density concrete in May 2011.

Snippets from Dell Quay Newsletters 1978 to 1991

Commodore commented that fishing was by no means what it used to be and encouraged more people to enter the fishing competitions. Junior week attracted 50 to 60 members and it was felt that some more advanced instruction to encourage them to take up racing should be introduced. Also in this year a Merchant Shipping Notice - Navigation of DQ channel was issued as dredging commenced between Chichester Lake to the site of the Fishbourne refinery; one of the consequences was that any vessel racing was required to show 5 balls in a vertical line.

Commodore appeared to be rather annoyed after the annual dinner and dance had to be cancelled as only 32 tickets had been sold, this had been an annual event since the mid 30's. Junior week was again run and for those youngsters unable to swim they had to wear a buoyancy aid.

Commodores mentions imminent scheme for improving the club house by providing larger changing rooms, canteen facilities, a new .lounge or snug and a better starting box.

More discussion was held re the possibility of an annual dinner and dance being held.
Commodore comments on the near demise of fishing as a club activity. Also sorry that proposed improvements to the club house had not yet materialised. But by the end of the year the development plan had been agreed.

The year also saw the club supporting Bryan and Robin in the quest for Olympic selection in the 470 class

With numbers of sailboarders increasing in the club there is a reminder that some racing is planned on an experimental basis.
Newsletter reports that the Snug is now complete

Club preparing to celebrate 1925-1985 Diamond jubilee.

Jubilee Ball held in July
Junior week attracts 35 youngsters several of which were assessed for RYA certificates. Two Adult training sessions were held
First ever visiting cruiser rally to Dell Quay having visited Arun SC a return visit was arranged in June where a meal was waiting for them.

Car treasure hunt was reasonably well supported
Introduction of Duty Roster with only just a few hiccups. Fred West (safety boat) having problems with weed clogging up the intake to the water jet.

Annual laying up service was held in October, members of DQSC, Sea Scouts and other members of sailing fraternity gathered in the tin church at Apuldram
1987 was pre Olympic year and two of our members Bryan Taylor and Robin Pascal looked for not only encouragement and support from DQSC but also much needed sponsorship. They bought a new 470 direct from Germany and fitted it out. Last regatta of the season was Weymouth Olympic week where they finished 3rd.

The storm claimed two victims with two boats being destroyed. As for Brian and Robin although they didn't win the Weymouth selection event they must have sufficiently impressed the Olympic selection committee as they were invited to Korea as two of the four official reserves!

Comment by members as to why we don't as a club have mid week rallies!
In March an Angling club & DQSC social evening hosted by DQSC (darts cards)
Colin Chatfield started a photographic history and record of the club

The year started with a Christmas Children's party
Spring bought a discussion on the idea of a syndicate being formed to buy a boat that would be kept overseas...
A few moans about the club pulling dinghy being used for more than twenty minutes.
A replica of Joshua Slocum's (sailed around the world 1895 to 1898) boat Spray arrived at Dell Quay complete with Baggy wrinkles
And a poem written by Ken Perry

Vice Presidents Lament

I am now used to my angina
With my hearing I'm resigned
I can manage my bifocals
But, oh Lord, I miss my mind
If I look vacant on the hard
With one foot in my tender
Wondering, Did I go, have I been?
Please just return to sender

December saw the fitting of new windows to the South of Club room in December and between the storms! The expected high water of 4.5 metres rose to 6.1 and put the water above the window sill but they held and were water tight.
In the same month the floating tables and benches on the balcony were recovered and stored safely.

In Summer 1991 the Commodore mentions the Snug being empty much of the time and reminds members that all members are allowed in, including the under 14s but you must take care of the furniture, however no dogs, no food, no unsupervised youngsters and no prams!
And the Regatta that year was held in September!

Thanks go to Mary Ross for providing copies of the 1978 to 1991 newsletters my only comment on reading these snippets is that "things don't change much".

Chris Sprules

Last updated 09:52 on 15 May 2024

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