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Strawberry Island Boat Club

The Birth Of The Club

The  history of the River Don Navigation and the potential of various Don Valley sites for amenity purposes were foremost on the mind of the prominent Doncaster  Borough Councillor and former Mayor William H Kelly when he approached Mr John Martin, Head of Woodfield High School, who both had a mutual interest in inland waterways.

On a cold, misty day in November 1969 the two men paid a visit of  inspection to Strawberry Island.  Was it worth seeking a lease from Doncaster County Borough to develop the amenity potential of the area? Dereliction was everywhere; waist-high in weeds and once-cultivated horse radish plants, the vegetation was dripping with moisture. Milethorn Lock was eliminated in 1906  when the channel from Doncaster to Long Sandall was straightened. Several loops  were left abandoned, including the Milethorn Bight and its lock with lock cottage. The original Strawberry Island became enlarged to take in the area up  to the new channel and the former lock cut and weir stream became a dumping ground for derelict barges and industrial waste.  

Bill Kelly and John Martin decided it was worth  calling a public meeting to test public opinion.  This took place at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery in December 1969.  Enthusiastic support led to the  formation of Strawberry Island Boat Club, with John Martin as Commodore and Bill Kelly as Secretary, as part of Bill Kelly's grand scheme for the whole Don  Valley, called Strawberry Island Don Development Association. Derek Hart, later Secretary, Commodore, Vice President and President, designed the S.I.B.C. badge on the back of a beer mat.  

It was soon realised that we had enough on our plate with S.I.B.C. let other people utilise and improve places like Sprotbrough and  Long Sandall!!  And so, a Club was born.

At Bill Kelly's request John Martin visited M.V. "Olive", moored at Sprotbrough, to invite owner William Graham to bring his barge to S.I.B.C. to act as clubhouse.  He agreed.... the boat was brought down as soon as concrete ballast was installed and fittings in place.

A Visit to Sandbeck Hall by Bill Kelly, John Martin and two stalwart supporters of S.I.B.C., John Wood and David Jenkinson, who proved through the years to be our benefactors in so many ways.  Purpose of the visit was to invite Lord Scarbrough to be S.I.B.C. President; he accepted and held office until 1982.

Aug. 1971 Joint AWCC/IWA Campaign Cruise to Sheffield Basin.  S.I.B.C. narrowly won the prize bell, beating South Yorkshire Boat Club and Retford and Worksop Boat Club  We sent 17 boats, including "Olive" our floating clubhouse and several home-built cabin cruisers.

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