South Shields Model Yacht Club still making waves after 130 years

South Shields Model Yacht Club's treasurer John Nielson, left, and vice chairman Bob Kirtley with two new boats built to celebrate their 130th anniversary at the South Marine Park.
South Shields Model Yacht Club's treasurer John Nielson, left, and vice chairman Bob Kirtley with two new boats built to celebrate their 130th anniversary at the South Marine Park.
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A whole ‘yacht’ of fun was had by all as a historic South Tyneside club pushed the boat out for a milestone celebration.

Members of South Shields Model Yacht Club swung open the doors to their boathouse to the public on Sunday as part of a fun-packed open day marking a fantastic 130 years of plain sailing.

This year is the club’s 130th anniversaty, making it probably the oldest of its kind in the country.

Bob Kirtley

A wide variety of miniature crafts were on display – from sailing yachts to working models of ships and boats – during the event at the club’s base at South Marine Park, South Shields.

A bumper crowd turned out for some fun in the sun as club members served up a slice of nautical nostalgia.

Demonstrations using an array of vessels were held on the lake throughout the morning.

The club is believed to be one of the oldest of its kind in the country - but it is still full power ahead for a bright future.

The club meets from 9am until noon every Sunday, with enthusiasts taking part in keenly-contested races with radio controlled sailing yachts as well as events for a range of powered vessels.

The club is ready to make waves for decades to come after being a new lease of life by a boathouse revamp back in 2008.

The building, first constructed in 1890, was included in a multi-million pound revamp of the park, funded by South Tyneside Council, its partners and a Heritage Lottery grant.

As part of the improvements, the exterior of the boathouse has been restored back to its 1955 design.

The yacht club was launched back in 1986 – and has taken pride of place at one of the town’s best-loved beauty spots ever since.

Bob Kirtley, deputy chairman of South Shields Model Yacht Club, said: “This year is the club’s 130th anniversary, making it probably the oldest of its kind in the country.

“The earliest photographs of the South Marine Park clearly show the lake and the Model Yacht House.

“After a few years steam-powered models became a regular sight on the lake alongside the sailing yachts and indeed the earliest models on show, still working well, are from the 1920s era.

“The present clubhouse, which was built after extensive damage to the original building during the Second World War, has been beautifully refurbished as part of the park’s restoration programme in 2008.

The club is eager for new recruits to dip their boats into the water every week.

Mr Kirtley added: “Club members, who are from all walks of life, share a common interest in the building or sailing of model ships, yachts or boats.

“We are keen to welcome newcomers of all ages to the club where they can enjoy this creative and fascinating hobby.”