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Pic 1: The clubhouse and boathouse c1950.

The club sailing facility originates from a mill pond coupled to Gods Port (later to be called Gosport) Creek in the reign of Charles II and is shown on maps from 1678. It was changed into a cockle pond in 1751 and there were few changes up to the 1890s. Under the shadow and influence of Camper and Nicholsons yard, famous for J Class yachts, the club prospered and the cockle pond was renovated specifically for model yachting and to accommodate the yacht club. Walpole Park was created in 1869 on the area known as The Horsefield, which was used previously by the army for exercising horses.

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Pic 2: The boathouse would be full of ready rigged free sailing yachts.

Model yacht sailing has taken place at Gosport since the late 1890s and involved the sailing of full keel yachts and free sailing cutters, with a fixed rudder. The club as we know it today, started around 1913 with early meetings taking place in the Nicholson Hall. The club prospered and in the later part of the 1920s the original boathouse, 38ft x 20ft was built by the members of the club, ably assisted by carpenters from Camper and Nicholson. The cockle pond was renovated under the Unemployment Work Programme after the Great War and at the official opening on 1st August 1921, approximately 3000 people attended. On Whit Monday in 1936 the new pavilion extension was officially opened, a 20ft x 20ft clubhouse with a 20ft x 4ft covered veranda. Photo 1 shows the clubhouse and attached boathouse as completed around 1950, which included a 12ft extension to the eastern end creating a 50ft long boathouse providing a large number of berths for the free sailing yachts of the members. It should be remembered, that at this time it was unusual to take your model yacht home, and leaving the yachts fully rigged at the lake ensured that the developed settings were not disturbed and that they were readily available for a quick race during an evening or at the weekend, Photo 2. The lakes at Walpole Park are unique in having a flat concrete path on all sides. The large lake in Photo 3 is 230m long and 54m wide, the smaller one being 110m long and 55m wide. Typically 1m to 1.5m deep and holding approximately 3.5 million gallons (15000 tons) of salt water which is provided from Haslar Creek via a control valve.

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Pic 3: An aerial view of the Walpole Lakes.

During the 1970s and 1980s there were several discussions concerning renovating the existing buildings or replacing them with a new facility, however the costs were prohibitive and no further action was taken. At the end of the 1990s as part of the Millennium celebrations and development of the Gosport Water Front, funding was made available via the Heritage Lottery Fund and Gosport Borough Council for a new pavilion in Walpole Park. The pavilion houses the clubroom and boathouse on the ground floor and a café on the upper floor. Photo 4 shows the clubhouse and a fleet of RAs. The club invested all its funds in this project and was involved with the design, which included a raised ceiling and a well, allowing RA and Marblehead yachts to be measured, fully rigged in the tank. Gosport is the home of the famous A Class yachts and the Model Yachting Association A Class Championships were held at the Walpole Lakes from 1923 until 1933, when Fleetwood constructed its boating lake. Since then, except for the war years, the A Class Championships have alternated yearly between Fleetwood and Gosport.

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Pic 4: The new clubhouse and café with a fleet of RAs on the lake.

The area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is also on the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance. Gosport Borough Council and the club manage the Walpole Lakes, whilst English Nature maintains a strict monitoring programme on the water quality. Having the luxury of two lakes enables us to host District, National and International events, whilst still providing sailing facilities for the club members own comprehensive sailing schedule. The membership is over 120 and recent years has seen a revival in free sailing of 36R, A Class and vintage yachts. Radio control events regularly have over 20 skippers competing with fleets of RC Laser, International One Metre and the magnificent RA. There are 92 weekend events in our sailing programme as well as general sailing on a Tuesday and Thursday. Further details are available on our websites and The enthusiasm of the membership and our visitors, together with this unique facility and the continuing support from Gosport Council will ensure that model yachting continues into its third century at Walpole Park, Gosport, Hampshire, England.