South Staffs Burgee
South Staffordshire Sailing Club
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Times of Change 1984 1994

The Field by Eric Whittaker - Commodore 1992 - 1993

For many years we had been able to rent a field owned by Mr Stanford, a local landowner, which we used for boat and car parking. When he died in 1987 he bequeathed the land to the local church, St. Saviours at Hatherton, and we paid them a nominal rent.

During informal meetings with British Waterways Board's representatives, we discovered that they were thinking of developing the fishing potential and had approached the church with a view to rent part of the field for car parking.
The club committee was alarmed at this and thought we should try to buy the land to secure car parking facilities and frustrate the B.W.B's plans. In the meantime, Mrs Stanford had approached the Lichfield Diocese to buy back the land and indicated that she was prepared to sell it to the club.

The general committee, on 4th December 1992, authorized trustee Rod Jones, (commodore 1972-73,) who had tried in 1991 to purchase this field, to enter into new discussions to try and obtain the 1.74 acres of land. He was authorized to offer up to £10,000.

Unfortunately the offer was turned down flat. Eventually Rod ascertained that the price for the field was £25,000.
I had always been of the opinion that whoever controlled this land would have considerable influence on the long term plans B.W.B. may have to expand the use of this pool, especially if they were unsuccessful in their court action with the Trout Fisheries next door to our club over their car park. The land was the only large area fronting Upper Pool with access to the highway. I felt that the opportunity to acquire this land would not present itself again, certainly not in the foreseeable future.

When club treasurer John Edwards and I were made aware of the new purchase price, time and secretiveness were of the essence. We did not want to wait until the next committee meeting. As much information as possible was kept confidential and Pam Waine, club secretary, must have thought she was back in M.I.5. A special committee meeting was convened just before the club Christmas dinner on Sunday 20th December 1992, to consider urgently the revised offer.

The decision taken was in favour of proceeding with the purchase of the field and the transaction was completed on 9th March 1993. The club through its trustees now owned the field.
The fact that we had the resources available to make this purchase outright was a tribute to the officers and trustees of SSSC who over the years had the foresight and resolve to build up the reserve fund.

The decision taken in 1993 to acquire the field was a brave one as £25,000 represented a sizeable chunk of our resources but all the committee and our trustees Rod Jones, Malcolm Timmins and John Brandon felt that we should proceed with the purchase.