Not many people know that even back in the 1960s, the sailing centre existed and was actively used. Originally, the lake had one island, until it was extended and Fairlop Sailing Club evolved at the new end of the lake, whilst the Fairlop Outdoor Activities Centre remained at the far end of the lake. This Centre was initially run by the late Peter Leverton, whose name and/or his family many may remember, as to being one of the reasons for this Centres success. In 1978, Fairlop Sailing Club was established and our family was one of the 550 + members. Unfortunately, the Council obviously saw potential with Fairlop Waters and decided to redevelop the site and built the Golf Course, including a new shared clubhouse. For many reasons the Club members were unhappy and from my recollection it dissolved to around 50 members and is now known as Fairlop Waters Sailing Club https://fairlopsailing.co.uk/ .Although our family cast off from Fairlop and sailed elsewhere, I returned as a Sea Ranger with the SRS Barneshurst crew, https://searangers.org.uk/…/srs-barnehurst-ilford-essex/ . In 2002, I taught sailing and water activities at the FOAC and I was also involved with the Sea Rangers, as a leader.
We sailed alongside the Canoe Club and the Sea Scouts, which my son also later on in life joined. If you love a sport and enjoy sharing and teaching it, there’s nothing better than seeing happy students of all abilities and ages progress, whilst learning team building and gaining certificates for their accomplishments.
On a sad note, over the last couple of years, I have heard how the maintenance of the sports equipment has become challenging. The limited budgets for replacement parts and especially with the maintenance of the much loved, old clinker built Seaway dinghies. This in itself is disappointing. Similar to most sports, sailing, which is recognised in the Olympics and other water sports, are not cheap to undertake and this is another reason why we shouldn’t lose this opportunity at this facility.
Fairlop Lake, has always been a place of laughter and the structure of safety, which is a key element in water sports and makes the activities happy memories for many. There are not many lakes in the County of Essex or East London that provide these facilities to Schools or youth groups. I am finding it abysmal that Redbridge are planning to expand the size of the Country Park, whilst destroying the facilities offered to many. One thing Councils are good at is having alternative plans, especially when reusing existing building structures. The reason I say this is that not too long ago, Redbridge were discussing building a race track and a hotel at Fairlop Waters. The land was previously a rubbish dump and there was concern about building new structures. I’m left wondering what their future business intentions are, If the Outdoor Centre, with changing rooms, boat shed and bungalow were to be redeveloped!