Stewartby Lake is a ‘man-made’ water feature being, at one time, a huge clay pit providing the raw materials for brick making. The London Brick Company’s brick making industry stretched right across the region and as far north as Peterborough following the exposed bed of Oxford Clay. This clay contained a high content of carboniferous material which allowed the bricks to actually burn and part fuel the kilns themselves.
In 1970, the clay became exhausted and the pit was flooded. The London Brick Company remained on its current site and opened new pits nearby and continued operating until February 2008 when the site finally closed.
The club has always been identifiable by its close proximity to the chimneys at the brickworks. Sadly 3 chimneys were demolished on October 2007 and the fate of the remaining 4 chimneys is uncertain despite attempts for a little of Marston Vales brick making history to be preserved.
The Early Days of the Club
In 1972 the Stewartby Watersports Club Ltd. was launched and held its first meetings in the Parish Hall of the nearby village of Stewartby.
In the early days the club had no building or changing facilities. Members changed into their sailing gear by climbing into a large wooden crate. This was particularly unpopular with the female members and very soon the purchase of an old engine-less single-decker coach was negotiated from Vauxhall Motor and delivered to site for the princely sum of £ 25. The coach had never been in service having been used as a test bed and had spent its life running endlessly around a test track at the Millbrook Proving Grounds a few miles away.
The coach was soon put into service with Vauxhalls persuaded to install a partition so that the male and female members could change with some privacy. Ladies entered the coach through the front doors, the men via the emergency exit.
In 1975, the London Brick Company donated a large prefabricated building in the form of an empty shell; but to the members it was a Palace! Members set to work installing a bar, galley (café to non-sailors) along with male and female changing facilities. Furniture was begged and borrowed from householders and organisations and gradually the clubhouse took shape.
Our single-storey club house is still a warm and comfortable place for members to enjoy and socialise, and is much loved to this day.
The Dinghy Park and slipways adjacent to the clubhouse owe their existence to a great deal of hard work and manual labour from members, plus a great deal of support from local building contractors and concrete suppliers. Where once a large open pond existed, thousands of tonnes of spoil from the excavations at Sainsburys in Kempston was tipped forming the dinghy park and grounds you see today. The roadways and slipways were formed from many deliveries of waste concrete from concrete suppliers returning from sites across Bedfordshire.
The Modern Sailing Club
The club you see today has grown and matured into a wonderful recreational resource. Now sitting within the Marston Vale Community Forrest, the club is growing all the time and attracting new people to sailing right across the area.
We have a strong team of volunteers who managing the sailing activities at the club and, with colleagues from other sections, continue to ensure the club can provide the some of the best water-sports facilities across the east of England.