The History of the Arnside Yacht Club 1852 – 1860

Arnside’s first sailing club was the Arnside Yacht Club set up in 1852 to run yearly regattas, 8 years before the Royal Windermere making it Cumbria’s first sailing club.


Arnside was very different in 1852 from today. The viaduct and railway embankment had not been built. There were two bays on the other side of the estuary on either side of Meathop Fell. None of the houses on the Promenade would have been built. Boats sailed up the estuary to Sandside to unload.


Instrumental in setting up the Club were Thomas Rodick senior who lived at Beachwood House and Thomas Rodick junior who lived in Ashmeadow House. Thomas Rodick senior was a director of the Liverpool Union Bank who was born in Kendal. His neighbours in Liverpool included Sir Henry Tate (of sugar and art gallery fame) and Sir Arthur Bower Forwood, a shipowner who made a fortune during the American Civil War and obtained the royal warrant for the Royal Windermere. The Rodicks had been founder members of the Royal Mersey Yacht Club which was set up in 1844.


The club’s first race in September 1852 was won by John Just from Grange sailing “Lady” with Francis Crossfield, the founder of the boatbuilding business coming second in “Sea Gull”. There was also a rowing race which was won by James Rodick, a younger son. After the races the company retired to the Fighting Cocks for a sumptuous dinner, followed by loyal toasts.


In previous years pubs at Sandside (either the Ship or Dixies) organised regattas. As well as water sports these included Cumbrian wrestling, dog racing and horse trotting followed by dancing.


The yacht racing was for money. In 1853 the first prize was £6 (£675 in today’s prices). The yachts were quite large, varying in weight between 2 and 7 tonnes. The Rodicks employed skippers and crews to sail their boats. The regattas attracted a lot of spectators.


In 1853 a separate race was run for fisherman from Morecambe, who would have better sailors than the gentlemen from Arnside, going out every day whatever the weather.


In 1855 the Club arranged a race to Morecambe (then called Poulton). The race had to be abandoned in 1853 off Beachwood due to the wind dropping and ebbing tide.


The 1860 Regatta featured a dog race won by “Butcher”, followed by “Nudger” and “Trimmer.”


The Rodick’s 16 ton yacht “Wild Duck” was wrecked in September 1860 when it hit a sandbank and sprang a leak returning from Morecambe. The Rodick family, Captain Whinray, their skipper and Francis Crossfield escaped on a small rowing boat being towed by Wild Duck arriving at Grange three hours later despite perilous seas.

Alasdair Simpson,  Arnside Sailing Club
In 2022  "An Antique English Pewter Tankard, Winning Prize for the ' Arnside Yacht Club Regatta', Dated 1856" was put on sale at an online auction house in Canberra, Australia.
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