Denver Cruising Club

On the River Great Ouse

The Denver Cruising Club was started by a small group of enthusiastic all year round Boaters in 1971, who used to get together for a natter and a jar in the Jenyn’s Arms, when one of them came up with the bright idea, “Why don’t we form a club?”

So it was agreed, from what I understood, all the members at that point were instantly proposed onto the Committee, they being:-

Harry C Matthews, Colin Harlock, Jimmy Laws, Nobby Clarke, Ernie & Margaret Germeny, J. Lunn, Jess Feltwell, Peter Farnham, W. Dewart, Sid Twiddy & J. Woodrow.

It was decided the most appropriate name for the Club would be the Denver Cruising Club, and so it came to be!

The Annual fee per family of boat owners was £3.00 and non-boat owners just £1.50. After a couple of months the Club floundered and was in jeopardy of breaking up but Matt stepped in and there was a re-shuffle and he became Commodore. The Committee Meetings were held in his bungalow at Downham Market. So the club began to grow and whoever wanted to join- could as long as they paid the sub.

The first AGM was held in the Denver Bell pub.The first Rally was at the Jenyn's Arms, with the Sea Cadets attending from Kings Lynn; they came all the way by rowing boat, and then gave various demonstrations and hints on boat handling techniques. They also did this the next year when the Rally was held at Southery, where the Club had acquired moorings outside “The Ferry Boat “ pub. This rally was held under huge tarpaulins and boats came in over the Wash from Nottingham and Northampton. We had our first visitors from the Cambridge Motor Boat Club. Apparently everyone drank a lot, ate a lot and had a very good time!

It was, as this time Members decided they wanted their own Clubhouse. A secondhand barge was bought for the princely sum of £30 from the Ely pits. It was thought to be around 60 years old then and was lying partly submerged and full of silt.

After several work parties and a lot of very hard work by the members, it was cleared and pumped out and the mammoth task of towing it back to Southery began. This was done by an open boat with an outboard engine. It took several weeks but it showed the tenacity of the members.

The work parties started on May 18th.

It came together for opening on Sunday May 26th 1973. Everyone did whatever they could. A secondhand cooker was acuired, before that the ladies cooked on the boats then brought the food to the clubhouse. A 40 gallon drum made us a BBQ which served the club for many years.

The first Laying Up Supper was held at the Crown Hotel in Downham and the tickets cost just £1.25 a head. Raffle tickets five for 2/- (10p).

At first the moorings at Southery were broadside on and we rented them from the landlord of the Ferry Boat Pub, who in turn rented them from the AWA. From those early days the Club has come a long way. It was just river banks we rented. Members masterminded the finger moorings as they are today because we found we could moor many more boats bringing in additional monies. But they had to be put in which was tremendous hard work because the uprights had to be driven into the river bed.

Originally the bar was run as an extension to the Ferry Boat Pub but it became a chore applying for extensions, so we applied for our own licence. The bar has always been successful. With some fine people running it.

Thanks to Carol Warburton for submitting this item.