Stoke on Trent Boat Club

AWCC Club of the Month – April 2010

In 1957, Guy Barks formed Stoke on Trent Boat Club with like-minded enthusiasts. The first meeting place was the Copeland Arms in Stoke, subsequently moving into the old grain store on the now defunct Newcastle Arm. As first Commodore, he put a notice on the towpath inviting passing boaters to visit

SOTBC original premises on the old Newcastle Arm before construction of the A500 D-road forced us to move

The 1960 campaign rally held at Stoke, hosted by SOTBC

Guy contacted British Waterways protesting at the neglect of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey Canals. He challenged the IWA to hold its 1960 national campaign rally in Stoke on Trent, organised by the Club – the only such rally ever to be organised by a club. Things moved on apace, with a protest cruise to Froghall in 1961. In 1963, the Caldon Canal Society [now the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust] was formed with strong input from the Club, leading to a protest rally at Consall Forge. There are also strong links with Beatrice, the boat for children with a need to get afloat..

In 1966, Endon wharf was purchased, when road building lead to the closure of the Newcastle arm. Much work was done by members to restore the Caldon as a navigable waterway. Endon railway station’s disused wooden platform was purchased, for the club’s boundary fence. The Club purchased the entrance to the club arm in 1970, with the road and bridge put in soon after. The clubhouse itself followed in 1973 – all this work was carried out by members of the Club.

Poor state of the Caldon Canal at the time of our move to Endon Wharf, around the time of the formation of the CUCT

The ‘new’ clubhouse at the time of the move to Endon Wharf

The Caldon Canal was formally re-opened in 1974 – the Club met at The Jug between 1973 and 1976, when the move to Endon took place. Considerable work was done by members to improve the building and grounds, and to this day, all work required is carried out by volunteers. An extensive refurbishment of the Club’s toilet facilities by the members has just been completed.

The same clubhouse as it is today

With some 150 members from pre-school to the 90s, the Club is thriving with a programme of social events in winter, and in summer, members cruise many hundreds of miles around the network. Members also serve on committees such as the CUCT, IWA Stoke on Trent Branch, Leek Sports Council, and the AWCC, as well as supporting User Groups, and village affairs. In the clubhouse is a collection of artefacts, each with a story to tell, and the Club’s history is documented in a priceless collection of photograph albums, dating from its formation in 1957.

Commodore Ken Marek (seated, second from left) at the time of the Golden Jubilee rally in 2007, with Past Commodores (also at the Golden Jubilee Rally)

Our arm with massed boats, grounds and clubhouse in the background

In 2007, the Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a boat rally and open weekend, attended by local and waterways dignitaries, and opened by Joan Walley MP. Children from the local primary school visited the Club and took part in a series of competitions, raising the profile of the Club in the village.

The clubhouse is open on Wednesday and Saturday evenings and Sunday lunch-times, and visiting boaters are welcome. Accredited AWCC members are welcome to use visitor moorings, subject to availability.