From Calf Heath to Gailey 1964 - 1974
Starting to sail at Gailey - 21st March 1971
by Ray Aston
In spite of lack of facilities at Gailey, everyone was keen to start sailing there as soon as possible. It was therefore decided that sailing should start on 21st March with a full sailing programme, including Open Meetings. This meant that quite a lot of essential work had to be done to make this possible. Room for car and boat parking, a slipway and jetty to make launching and recovery of boats easier than the previous year, when boats were literally man-handled in and out of the water. However sailing did start as planned at 2.30pm 21st March 1971. No clubhouse of course - this had to wait - so after racing we returned to Calf Heath for a natter and a welcome cup of tea.
The Dinner and Dance that year was held at The Park Hall Hotel, Wolverhampton. The guest speaker was Patrick Cormack, M.P. 230 members, friends and guests attended and dancing went on till 2.00am. Tickets were priced at £2.50!
No facilities !
Soon after sailing started, a caravan was obtained and sited at Gailey which made things a lot easier for the ladies to serve tea and refreshments during the interval between races. It also provided some shelter for them when wet.
Sailing continued on this basis throughout the year and lack of facilities didn't appear to affect turnouts. Open Meetings were held for Fireflies, OKs and GP 14s; we also held a Firefly team racing event and the R.N.V.R. semi-finals and finals. After sailing on Calf Heath, it was marvellous to sail on Gailey with much longer courses and better wind conditions.
In the Autumn planning permission to develop the site was obtained from Cannock R.D.C. and work started on the clubhouse under the able direction of the vice commodore - Malcolm Timmins.
Malcolm acted as site manager, clerk of works, site foreman, time keeper, gang boss and general labourer throughout the whole project. Where many of us saw a problem he saw a challenge and he "got on with it". Towards the end of the year, the ‘portaloo' arrived, on a bitterly cold day as I remember, and the water main was laid. Although sailing continued as usual, a considerable amount of work was done by many members of the club that autumn and winter. It is difficult to imagine how or when the building could ever have been completed without Malcolm Timmin's direction and example, and indeed, without the enthusiastic and energetic efforts of so many of the SSSC members.
In his newsletter to members, Ray Aston wrote:
"We plan to provide club room facilities, bar and kitchen, changing rooms, toilet facilities and showers. Unfortunately, the change in Government policy with regard to financial help to sports clubs means that we may not get anything like the grant we had once hoped for. In order to make the best use of our assets we need to do a lot of the work ourselves, so please give all the help you can. SSSC has always had a reputation for a good club spirit. We now have good sailing water and with your help we shall have a new club house and SSSC will become one of the finest sailing clubs in the Midlands."
And so it has proved.