South Staffs Burgee
South Staffordshire Sailing Club
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From Calf Heath to Gailey 1964 - 1974

Protecting the Heronry

 by Antony Darbey

Eventually, by November 1968, preliminary agreement was reached in principle for the use of Gailey, at first on an experimental basis. We had at last been able to reach an acceptable compromise to protect the heronry with the ring of buoys, to be extended to the shore during the breeding season, so that there would be no sailing round the island at that time. The shooting syndicate was mainly interested in the Upper Pool, and (reluctantly) agreed to drop their objection to our use of the Lower Pool. It was accepted that there was no real conflict with the anglers, as fishing was only from the shore.
The first trial sailing was conducted under primitive conditions while lease terms and planning requirements were thrashed out. Planning permission was required for the use of the pool and for the erection of a clubhouse, and car parking then became a major problem. Fortunately we were able to negotiate a lease of the field forming the present car park, which belonged to the owners of the adjoining farm, who were well disposed and indeed became enthusiastic members of the Club.
A short-term lease was at first suggested, but from the Club's point of view it was essential to have long term security in order to be eligible for grants. Eventually, in 1971, a 28-year lease was granted by British Waterways, and approval was obtained for grants by the Department of the Environment and Wolverhampton Council to assist with the cost of construction of a new clubhouse and other essential facilities.