In 1952 Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the Throne and Lakeland Canoe Club was formed. Although these two events were entirely unconnected, the present 40th anniversary celebrations nevertheless revived memories of
those post war and pre-war days, when beer was 1shilling 3p per pint ( the equivalent of 6.25p today) and the average wage of a manual worker was £9.4s 9p a week (£9.23).
Rationing of food, and petrol as a result of the Second World War had only recently ended. A gallon of petrol then the equivalent of cost of 16p and in 1952 a pound today, would only buy only a thimbleful of British rail tea, worth only 6.4p in today’s inflated currency. Car ownership has
increased almost 10 fold and telephones 7fold during these 40 years
The inflatable lifejacket was developed in 1952 after 16 years research by the RAF. Prior to that most canoeists wore homemade affairs of cycle tyres and inflatable pillows which were usually totally inadequate and unsafe.
Achievements whether in the laboratory or the field of sporting endeavours had been the constant thread running through the last four decades. In our own club, membership increased from a mere handful to 100 in just five years from 1975 to 1980 and then declined steadily to 63 last year.
In the early years of the club we were represented for some 20 years in canoe slalom division 1. The writer of these notes was a member of the English canoe slalom team against Scotland in 1950 and again in 1951 and in the British canoe slalom international team at Lippstadt in 1952.
Th only other founder member, still retaining membership, Heather Goodman,
who hailed from Kendal, became the British ladies slalom champion and retained the title for a number of years, culminating in the Olympics of 1972 at Munich
The Leven white water test, which was the forerunner of all wild water racing in Britain, was inaugurated in 1952. It continued unbroken for 35 years. This was perhaps the most like widely known of Lakeland canoe club’s achievements.
In the early days canoes and canoeists was something of a rarity on our rivers and they were accepted by owners and most dangerous with a mild degree of interest. But the increase of numbers in recent years inevitably caused problems and concern to owners and open hostility from many anglers.
In 1977 the club exchanged greetings with the Queen on our respective Silver Jubilees. Will we will be able to do the same for our golden Jubilee in another 10 years time? I hope so.
Eric Totty 9/2/92
In 1984 Robin Everingham posted an advertisement in the Westmorland Gazette, asking for local paddlers who might be interested in playing canoe polo. This proved very fortuitous as it singled a new era for the club.
Polo went from strength to strength, within 2 years the club had 2 male and one female team playing in the national league. One team winning division 2 north in 1987. The club also qualified for the National knockout
championship played at Crystal Palace.
The weekly pool sessions also acted as focal point for outdoor adventures, bringing a vibrant enthusiasm along with a change in emphasis from slalom to recreation and exploration.
Local sea kayak trips were well attended, a round of Pembrokeshire in 1986 ended in force 7 winds at Fishguard. Robin Everingham, Mike Hayward and Jim Stilling made a successful attempt at the circumnavigation of Skye with Jim and Robin crossing the Minch twice to Harris, just for good measure.
Jim and Robin then went on the compete in the Lofoten sea kayak race off the coast of Norway. This was followed in 1989 By an out and back trip from St Bees to the Isle of Man.
A very keen group of river paddlers made two trip to the Alps each year.
Generally in the paddling community there was an ethos of let us explore. Mike Hayward and Robin Everingham descended the Grand Canyon orf the Colorado in 1988. The following year, 1989 they completed one of the final descents of the River Bio-Bio in Chile before the river was dammed.
The club widened it’s ventures this with Mike Hayward leading a venture to the Coruh River, Turkey 1987, driving there and back; and exploratory trip to Norway 1989 ; in 1990 the first British kayaking expedition to Costa Rica. Culminating in 1993
first decent by kayak of the Himalayan rivers Rangit, Teetsta and Lachung Chu in Sikkim.
We held monthly social events, with lectures from club members about their trips as well as invited guest speakers.
Polo continued to be the main focus over the following years with two competitive teams, one in Div 2N (runners up in 1999/2000 season) and one in Div 4N. In 2001 Tim Mather brought new enthusiasm and secured a grant in 2002 to purchase 6 kevlar polo competition boats. Cumbria’s first regional polo tournament was organised by Lakeland in 2002 which then became part of a yearly series to this day.
In 2009 our website was first set up.
The Leven Open Days, took over from the Leven White Water Test when interest for the competition dwindled in 1987. They provided organised days for recreational paddling on tteh river Leven. They continued until the end of 2010.
A quarterly newsletter kept members informed until 2012, when Mike Hayward took over from Robin and started producing a monthly newsletter.
In 2013, there began a resurgence for outdoor events on both river and sea.
Only local to start with. The expansion was slow with a small group of about 20 attending trips at various times.
Since 2015 we have had an annual week in October, in Sutherland, exploring rivers not in the guidebooks. We have also had well attended early Spring and late Autumn weekends in Galloway.
The addition of a calendar with RSVP facility was added to the website. This has enabled us to share paddling events to all club members more regularly. Since 2018 we have co-ordinated over 150 club events, each year. More than 50 members and some guests now attend different events.
Since 2018 Bob Gibbs has organised the very popular ‘Paddling Film Festival’ held in October in Kendal.
In 2019 we purchased some outdoor club boats with grants from the Sport’s Council and SLDC. The club established a store at the local Rugby Union club.
Rachel Powell got team together to visit Romania for 2 weeks, unbelievably in 2019, a relatively unexplored country for river kayaking. The trip culminated in a first decent of the grade 4(5) Minis river.
Members of the club sea kayaked in the Finnish Archipelago,
Dave Gray co-ordinated a trip to Slovenia, which also produced a cool short film.