The Alnmouth Boat Club

The River Aln Boat Club was formed by a small group of local people in 1978. It came into being in order to encourage interest in boating activities mainly for dinghy sailing and sea angling. The Aln estuary provided a safe and secure anchorage for small craft and an enthusiastic group of people used to meet here at weekends on a regular basis and, when not out on the water, would sit and talk on the bank near the Ferry Hut.

In 1981, the bank in front of the boatyard was becoming very eroded. It had been formed from spoil from the Alnmouth Gasworks, which was situated on the site of the boatyard, and windblown sand. The bank was the winter storage area for the local fishing cobles which were hauled out each year for painting and maintenance. For many years a local fisherman, Jack Stuart, still used to sail his clinker built coble "Bethel" out to the Boulmer Buoy in an offshore wind to lay his lobster pots, and then row it all the way back ashore. Jack continued with this traditional way of life until over the age of eighty.

The black hut, on the bank, was the Ferryman's Hut. The ferry was run by a man called John Brown and the job was taken over by his son Bill. For the fee of one penny, villagers could be rowed across the river at times when the tide was too deep to wade across.

The Boat Club decided that if something was not done, the bank would become eroded away and there was a real possibility of the sea breaking through onto Riverside Road in front of Prudhoe Villas, whose basement flat was regularly flooded. We began to collect stones from the beach, and borrowed a tractor to lead others from a demolition site at Seaton Point, and then volunteers mixed cement by hand and set about building the low stone wall that has retained the bank until now.

Nothing lasts forever, and any casual glance at the current wall will see it as a testament to willingness rather than to skill. It is falling down in a number of places, and there is not the youthful vigour in the Boat Club that existed in 1981. If, however, we can obtain substantial grant aid, we are hoping to get a professionally built wall similar to that which protects the park.

The proposed wall will extend from the park to the sea wall east of the ferry hut, and will be built in front of the existing wall. We are hoping also that a strip above and behind the wall can be surfaced to provide dry storage for dinghies, while leaving the grass area between there and the road a a clear open space for everyone to use and enjoy. To this end we would ask dog owners to act responsibly with their pets and clear up any mess behind them.

(An article by John Hall in Alnmouth Common News Number 3, Summer 2000)