Unveiling our old Slipway Roller
Friday 1st July saw the unveiling of a rather unusual piece of the Club’s past – the carefully renovated and beautifully mounted remnant of the old slipway – one of the keel rollers. This 30kg mass of cast iron dated back to the very origins of the old Coast Guard Boathouse, in the 1800s. Along with a number of other such rollers, it served to ease the recovery of boats up the slipway and into the boat house – the structure that was the basis of our Clubhouse, when acquired at the instigation of Major Cyril Potter in 1923.
The boathouse was a single storey, brick structure; fitted with two large doors (that existed, though not used until relatively recently), from which the timber slipway went forth. The accompanying picture from 1926, clearly shows one of the rollers, in Club use – next to what appears to be a picnic hamper.
In 1950, the slipway was removed – it having been a constant complaint of the boatman who had to scrub mud and weed from its surface, at every tide. It was replaced by a fixed landing stage that projected some way into the river, where it ended with a hammerhead in deep water.
The walkway boasted enough width to allow dinghy trolleys to be taken along to the inner face of the hammerhead, where a launching ramp was provided; keel boats would moor in the stream, duly allowing for the rise and fall. As part of the replacement, to provide much improved alongside facilities – it was even fitted with a dinghy on davits – a number of rollers were recovered, one of which survived over 70 years, in the wondrous depths of the Boatmen’s workshop.