History of Wigan Sailing Club
Wigan Sailing Club was founded on Orrell Water Park in 1968. There was an advert in a local newspaper written by Bert Davison and a few other enthusiasts. "Anyone want to be part of a sailing club in Wigan?"
Wigan Sailing Club was formed in 1968. For short time the Club sailed on Orrell Reservoir but in April 1969 permission to sail on Scotman's Flash was received from Central Electricity Generating Board at Westwood Power Station. Wigan Sailing Club was granted the sole sailing rights on Scotmans Flash and the Club controlled all sailing activities carried on this water.
Wigan Sea Cadets were founding members of the Sailing Club and have continued to use the base ever since.
For several years the Club was run from a second-hand builder's hut but after protracted negotiations covering the ownership of land, access across land and planning applications, the present small clubhouse was purchased and erected in the early part of 1976.
After ten years' of planning and frustration, 1990 saw the erection of a changing/shower/toilet block, giving the members and visitors increased facilities and extended club room area. The new block meant that Wigan Sailing Club had to fundraise to meet the £50,000 required.
The installation of the floating jetty which can be seen at the club today took place in the 90s this has proved to be a fantastic Club asset and was redecked with a 50-year lifespan grp mesh in 2016.
The Club worked on a new building proposal which would have seen £100,000 new building on site. Unfortunately, the timing was against the club as shortly before the 2010 General Election funding was revoked by the Coalfield Regeneration Trust. The committee worked hard to make it work in stages but was unsuccessful.
Club garages were erected in 2012, taken from a school in Rochdale. The club invested in converting one half of the garage into a training room. This has been used to run a number of courses since.
In 2011 the club were approached by Pat Rigg who were trying to purchase a dragon boat and paddle it to help recovery and a support network for people with Breast Cancer. This group became affiliated as the Wigan Water Dragons and have continued to paddle from the club site since.
2013 Wigan Council's Centre changing rooms were found “uninhabitable” and request was made to use the club's facilities temporarily. This was granted for a payment covering costs etc. In 2014 permission was granted for longer-term use of changing rooms by the training school.
2014 Wigan Canoe Group contacted the club and the club was able to offer them a new base of operations even siting a new container on site. The canoeing club is as vibrant as ever and continues to thrive.
2015-16 the Centre next door was put up for tender which was won by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (Now called Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles). The club has had a good working relationship since.
The sailing side of the Club activities has steadily progressed from the early days of “messing about in boats”. Open meetings in which members of other sailing clubs are invited to visit Wigan to compete in races are held regularly and the sailors of Wigan Sailing Club have proved over the years that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Wigan Sailing Club have hosted a number of Championship meetings over the years, proving that they also have the ability to conduct major events including Express Class, Miracle Class, and the Northern Championships.
In early 2019, representatives of Pilkington Sailing Club came to visit the club. Initially, they were worried about the possibility of being evicted and needed temporary accommodation if this happened. The immediate answer was:
“Yes! Definitely! Even if we have to host boats in the car park we would help.”
If we were in their position, we would like to think someone else would have helped in this way.
Discussions over the future of the club fairly quickly turned to the possibility of a longer-term arrangement. - possibly some sort of merger.
This was discussed initially between the two committees who formed the JSG Joint Steering Group - To begin with, their job was to look at the idea of a bigger, merged club and the viability of such an idea. - then to create a vision and a possible plan of how this could be implemented. - Each club held a general meeting to gauge member's views. The Wigan meeting was unanimously in favour of the merger with some minor issues to address.
The club's subgroups focusing on separate aspects of the merger were formed and so it began.
Over the next few months plans were formulated, Rules, Byelaws and policies were written up and the clubs prepared for the improvement work to expand the dinghy park, create a new storage building/boathouse and all the other necessary bits to accommodate the new club.
In October 2019, the work began on the site. This continued until March 2020 with input from members of both clubs. The Pilkington Sailing Club assets were moved across in the weeks before they had to leave Eccleston Mere.
Covid-19 measures brought in by the UK government meant members had to social distance and the final weeks of the merger process all official club events were postponed until further notice. Minor work continued for several weeks and that is when things stopped. - Lockdown.
The merger happened and on the 1st April 2020, Wigan and St Helens Sailing Club came into existence.