It is also home to the Woodbridge Cruising Club whose clubhouse overlooks the River Deben.
Our Club was formed in 1965 by a group of boating enthusiasts – it was the brainchild of John Ward who owned a restaurant in Quay Street called ‘The Captains Table’, but was actually situated in what is now known as ‘Outdoor Life’. The inaugural meeting was held in the ‘Station ‘ PH (now The Anchor), and subs were set at 10 shillings (50p) pa and they passed a hat round so that their first bank account could be opened! Members then were mainly motor cruiser owners.
Numerous attempts were made to secure a permanent meeting place, including the purchase of an old Thames lighter for £100 plus the acquisition of the old telephone exchange at Debenham for the superstructure, but the planners threw it out and that was that. A club member then offered the rental of his mother’s cottage in Tide Mill Way, (now Ashton Design), but this too was a non-starter owing to the proposed new relief road, which although becoming a reality, the building escaped the bulldozer, and still remains. Then came the good news. Frank & Christine Knights offered us the lease of their first floor premises on Ferry Quay (now Deben Design) which the club enjoyed for over 10 yrs.
Cruising activities were at first very modest, with the odd cruise to the Ore/Alde or the Orwell, but eventually the more experienced were soon enjoying the delights of Ostend, the flat Belgian/Dutch coastline, Breskens, and the typically Dutch towns of Middelberg and Veere on Walcharen, and then exploring the delightful Veersemere, although one or two intrepid members actually sailed direct from the Deben to Ijmuiden, and rendezvued with the main fleet going North via the canals, at Amsterdam!
Needless to say, we made many new friends whilst over there, and since we had inadequate space here at Woodbridge to return their hospitality, and the fact that our club was growing, the membership committee decided to make a concerted effort to provide a permanent clubhouse. Several schemes were considered, including a Dutch barge conversion, but finding a suitable mooring was the main problem. Then the first floor of the old granary building was offered to us by the Town Council, but a rent then of £3000 pa was considered too expensive. Then finally we were offered the present site in the corner of Eversons boatyard, which was agreed at the AGM on 9 March 1985.
Within the club we had an architect, a legal professional, a builder, an engineer, an electrician, and a small group of very willing helpers with a lot of enthusiasm. After three years of hard slog, the new clubhouse was formally opened on September 24 1988 by Lord Lewin, then Admiral or the Fleet, who launched our ship with acclaim and wished us well.
In 2002, Club members designed and financed a three-storey extension, being fitted out in 2003 by themselves, to provide much-needed new space for passage-planning, training, and social activities.
Marion Barnes John Gravatt Neville Pearce
1965-67 John Ward 1968-72 Derrick Garnham 1973-74 Charles Riches 1975-76 Ken Gammage 1976-77 Stan Hewitt 1978-80 Ken Spence 1981-82 Peter Webb 1983-84 Richard Sampson 1985-87 Don G Smith 1988-89 Neville Allen 1990-91 Mike Meister 1992-93 David Aldred 1993-94 Don G Smith 1994-96 Fred Bentley 1996-97 Mike Perkins 1997-99 Sonia Pollock 1999-01 Paul Strugnell 2001-02 Rennie Smith 2003-05 George Gooden 2005-07 Ted Evans 2007-09 Rod Richens 2009-11 Tony Patrick 2011-13 Ros Peck 2013-15 John Gravatt 2015-17 Steph Heenan 2017-current Freeman Lynn
Honorary Life Members
David Aldred Mike Meister David Scott-Cowper Don Tucker Pat Gooden George Gooden Kath and Lawrence Thomson John White Janet Downer Rhona and Richard Sampson