History of the Maidstone Sailing Club, Maidstone, Kent

The Maidstone Sailing Club officially began in 1958. Club members met at the Old Brew House, which was located in Mote Park. The club regularly hosted organized racing events, which were attended by various sailing clubs around the British Isles. The races were usually held on Sunday mornings, bank holidays, and on Wednesday evenings during the summer months. Locals and visitors to Mote Lake frequently enjoyed the vision of sail boats skimming across the water. Sailing lessons at varying experience levels were also offered to those who were interested in learning to sail or to improve their expertise.

The trouble began for the sailing club around January 2006, when the town council of Maidstone began negotiations for the sale of the Old Brew House to Raven Audley Court, a housing development company.
On or around Friday, 06 January, 2006, vandals set fire to the clubís race box. The race box was a building which stood on ten-foot stilts at the side of the lake and had the appearance of a birdís hide. It was used for giving instructions to boats at the beginning of sailing races. The fire unfortunately gutted the building, which added to the clubís financial difficulties. At the time of the fire, the sailing club had raised approximately £35,000 out of an estimated £200,000 required to build a new club house.

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Members began drifting away, with many joining other, less troubled clubs. Talks between the sailing club and the Maidstone town council failed to reach an agreement regarding a new location for the club. The sailing club requested that funds be made available to assist in the relocation of the club. The town council offered a one year lease on the property known as the Former Burning Ground, with no guarantee of renewal. The proposal offered by the town council also called for a maximum of two steel storage containers for the storage of boats and equipment that had to be movable. The club would have been allowed to build a new clubhouse on the land, but was first required to prove to the town council that they had the funds needed to build the clubhouse.

The sailing club decided to refuse the proposal offered by the town council on the grounds that the land offered was at that time in use by Raven, the housing developers that were forcing them out of the Old Brew House, and that the land was covered in rubble and debris making it impossible to improve the land on such a short lease.

The Old Brew House was eventually sold to Raven for £3.47 million, but no funding was made available to defray the cost of moving incurred by the sailing club. In June 2008, the members of the Maidstone Sailing club voted to end the club and sell all club assets, ending a 50 year era of sail boating on Mote Lake.

Copyright Maidstone MCF 2010