South Pennine Boat Club


AWCC Club of the Month May 2009

This is the story of how a handful of boating enthusiasts without any significant funding, turned a derelict eyesore of a site into a thriving Boat Club.
The Original Site

The Original Site

The Site Today

The Site Today

How the Club was formed

Back in 1976 a small group of boaters based at Brighouse on the Calder & Hebble, got together to form a boat club. Right from the start they intended to acquire and manage their own moorings. But BW was less than keen on the idea.

However they eventually relented and offered the Club a lease on land and moorings at Battyeford (near Mirfield). The land was totally disused and had become a magnet for fly tipping and was a real eyesore. It did include a derelict dry dock however, and linear moorings for about 11 boats.

Despite the parlous state of the site the Club agreed a lease with BW. The Club now had its own premises and moorings, but they were not in Brighouse so a change of name was decided upon. South Pennine Boat Club came into existence in 1984.

What SPBC did next

The first task facing the Club’members was to erect a security fence. This was followed by:-

Landscaping the site
Building jetties for the eleven boats
Restoring the dry dock to working order

All substantial tasks in their own right, but with increasing confidence in their own capabilities the Club Members set their sights on two major projects:-

Constructing a mooring basin able to take about 30 boats
Building a clubhouse, with toilets and kitchen facilities

These took until the mid-nineties but with the millennium fast approaching and a seemingly endless mooring waiting list, further mooring rights on a neighbouring site were acquired (taking mooring capacity to55 boats) and an underpass built to join the sites together.

Dey Dock - early days

Dry Dock - Early Days

The Dry Dock today

The Dry Dock today

Further developments since 2000 include security lights, construction of a part covered BBQ area; and re-laying the (200 year old) floor of the dry dock.

None of the above would have been possible without enthusiasm, skills, and commitment of the Club’s 150+ members who have loaned equipment and given their time so generously. And they are not sitting back resting on their laurels. Just finishing is a major project to extend the Clubhouse & kitchen doubling their capacity.

Next project? Construction of a roof over the dry dock.

The Social Side

From the list of happenings above you may think that site development projects are the only thing SPBC members have time for. Not so - social events are many and varied. For instance Quizes, ‘Wacky Races’; a ‘murder mystery evening’ and ceilidh dances.

Then there are charity events held to raise funds for a local hospice our adopted charity.

Not forgetting our annual Open Day – which this year is on Saturday 9th May 2009 and is open to boaters and public alike – with bands, displays, free boat trips – plus lots of things for the kids to do. In addition, Boaters are also welcome to spend the weekend of the 8th, 9th & 10th May 2009 with us and join in our Annual Boat Rally (see our web site below for more information).

The Club also organises trips to places of waterway interest. Such as the Falkirk Wheel and reciprocal visits to other Clubs for instance.

All of these goings on are documented in Handspike the Club newsletter (which has won the AWCC award for best Club magazine no fewer three times in recent years). This is augmented by the Club’s highly rated website and Email system which enables the Club to contact the majority of members with urgent news or requests

SPBC Today and Tomorrow

As the Club approaches its 25th birthday the work goes on. There are still projects to be considered for future developments like upgrading the car park…

In 2009 some of our boats will be travelling to the far flung corners of the waterway network. Proudly flying the Club pennant (white rose on red background). If you see them give them a wave. Better still bring your boat to the north and stay awhile at Battyeford. We are always pleased to welcome visitors. If you cannot make it in person then visit our website at