The Origins of Bowmoor

For many years Horcott SC sailed on a small lake on the outskirts of Fairford with 130 members. Being a shallow lake, it became virtually unsailable because of weed.

In 1975 The Colne Gravel Co. who also owned the Horcott lake completed a 120-acre lake at Bowmoor.

Tony Cutler who became the first President of Bowmoor led the negotiations to move Horcott SC to the new lake. Hence Bowmoor SC was born in 1976 with family membership costing £25 per annum.

Claydon Pike SC, another club sailed on the small lake adjacent to the new Bowmoor lake, also decided to join Bowmoor SC. Within a year RAF Somerford Keynes SC who sailed in the western end of the Water Park came over and joined, bringing with them their clubhouse which also included their bar licence.

Each original club had their own traditions and in the early days the AGM’s were quite lengthy and sometime contentious. However through it all common sense prevailed and Bowmoor SC grew to become much stronger. There was a wide variety of boats with the regular racers, including 15 Enterprises, 10 OKs, 7 Otters, 5 Solos and 6 Optimists.

A few years later another small club Keynes Park SC moved from the western end of the Water Park to the Horseshoe Lake on the north side of Lechlade. In the event this did not work out for them and ARC who by now had taken over the Colne Gravel Co approached Bowmoor SC to help resolve their problems and in the event Keynes Park SC came over and joined with Bowmoor.

Over the next few years the Bowmoor continued to expand and was fortunate to be able to double the size of the clubhouse with the donation of a building from the Metal Box Co.

The Club has always had a policy of supporting youths, based on the Optimist and Toppers culminating in Bowmoor and becoming a Volvo Champion Club, the first in the country with our polices and facilities being used as a template.

Over the years Bowmoor has produced many champions from our youth fleets which is an excellent reflection on all the people involved.

The New Club

Around 1998 the Club was advised that Hanson who by now had taken over ARC were preparing plans to develop the whole site. This included building chalets around the Bowmoor lake and a theme park where our new lake and clubhouse is now.

The theme park proposal was rejected by the local council and of course the Club were not supportive of chalets around their lake. Faced with this, we put a proposal to the Hanson Board that we move across the site to another lake, which was being drained and used for the grazing of sheep, so freeing up our lake for development. This proposal was accepted by the Board and so was put in train all the required planning applications and of course finance.

Hanson’s plans for the site were eventually approved to include the Club moving, the building of a hotel and 160 chalets across the site. Being a restored gravel pit we were able to qualify for grant aid of £75,000 from Natural England. We did not qualify for Lottery funding. This together with the provisions the Club had accumulated as the result of Hanson giving us a rent-free period and a bank mortgage provided the basic funding for our development.

After submitting several designs for the clubhouse to Cotswold District Council we eventually obtained the required approval and so the hard work was started. A project team consisting of Dave Rollinson, Mike Hing, Mike Otlet, Doug Roberts and Richard Bedford set to work to plan and build the new facilities. The building work was led by David Rollinson and the initial stage was to install the slip ways and Jetty before the lake filled up. The boat store was the first building to be constructed by the members including Highworth Canoe Club and this was used as a temporary clubhouse when we moved to the new site in May 2005.

As the land was not officially transferred to Bowmoor until 2006 we could not get a mortgage until then so we could not afford to construct the new clubhouse. The new facility was officially opened by Rod Carr of the RYA in June 2007. Hanson transferred the lake and the land freehold to the Club as part of the deal.

Don Cannon President of Bowmoor SC was voted BBC West Unsung Hero on Sunday 7th December 2008 at Bath University.

Past Commodores

1976-1977 Tony Cutler
1977-1987 Don Cannon
1987-1992 David Rollinson
1992-1995 Robin Harwood
1995-2003 Don Cannon
2003-2005 Peter Mackensie
2005-2015 Doug Roberts
2015-2018 John Banbrook
2018- Tom Whittingham

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