History

Tenby Sailing Club was founded in 1936, and originally located in a house (now called 'The Quarterdeck') on Penniless Cove Hill and a small building at the end of the pier which was used for starting races but has now demolished. 

It then moved into its existing building which had been built in 1825 and formerly known as Sleeman’s Stores adjacent to the Sluice. The three storey building was constructed on three stone arches, which have now been filled in and had previously been leased to Thomas Sleeman for use as a warehouse for the store of wine, spirits, vinegar, oil, fruits and salt shipped from Bristol and the Continent. It was built adjacent to the South Wharf, with one end able to receive goods directly from ships moored against the Sluice wall. Its foundations are in the Sluice basin and it is assumed that it was built on arches not only for the strength and stability, standing in water twice each day, but also because less stone was required. Given the construction of Sir William Paxton's arched Walkway across the southeast side of the harbour in 1813, it can also be assumed that this influenced it its construction. Later in its life, the floors of the Sleeman's Stores building were rented separately as fishermen's and boatmen's stores.

When the club moved to the present site, it originally occupied the top two floors of the building. The floors were old and weak, and older members recall that on occasions, when the club room was full that the floor sagged and moved so much that all the locals would sit as close to the edge as possible. Waste water also had to be pumped up to the sewer in Crackwell Street, which was problematic.

The first floor was strengthened, and later in the 1970s the upper floor was also strengthened and changing rooms, showers and a committee room installed. The original steel windows were also replaced with wooden ones.

In 1970, the gold Commander Lock Trophy was sold and the money raised used to build a splendid new bar in the form of a clinker-built ship's hull, still in use today.

Later, part of the ground floor was obtained and used to house the new rescue boats which the club had bought. Eventually, the whole of the lower floor was taken over and a Sportlot Grant enabled new changing facilities, toilets and showers to be built, together with a new balcony and fire escape at the front of the building.

Sailing at Tenby Sailing Club

Some of the earliest boats sailed in the club were Gunter rigged pleasure boats, and names such as Doric sailed by Jimmy Noble and Elsie, sometimes referred to as 'the snorting pig', sailed by Lal John are still remembered. The Oriole, built to the design of a 14ft International, was also regularly sailed. Other boats appeared, including an 18ft National (designed by Uffa Fox), a Flying Fifteen and an Olympic Firefly after the Olympic Games in 1948.

The first Dinghy Class adopted by the club was the National Redwing. This was a clinker built dinghy designed by Uffa Fox for Looe Sailing Club in Cornwall. Those early boats in Looe were all named after birds. The waters around Tenby were considered to be so similar to Looe that the boat would be ideal. The first one in Tenby was obtained by Dudley Boswell. The Redwing originally had a cast iron centreboard, weighing 1¼ cwt (64 Kg), which needed a winch to lift it. This meant that the boats had to remain out on a mooring as they were too heavy to pull up the slipway. The cast iron board was later replaced by a wooden centreboard, and later still a trapeze was fitted to the boat to ease the plight of the overburdened crew. The red sails of these boats are still a splendid sight in Carmarthen Bay.

Other classes of boats sailed in the club include Fireballs, GP14s, Lasers, Mirror Dinghies, Optimists, Ospreys and Toppers.

The History of The Sluice.

It is believed that the sluice wall was built during the late 17th century and had three sluice outlets. Remains of a filled-in arch and steel hinges at the west end, near the present Mayor's Slip, were visible until quite recently, until that end of the Sluice wall collapsed during a storm. 

The sluice opening at the opposite end would have been in the wall of what is now called South Wharf.  It would have been made by filling in the east end of the Sluice in front of the Smithy Storehouse, some time before 1811. It is thought that the third opening may have been where the wide opening in the Sluice wall now exists. Trapped seawater from the basin would have released through these sluice gates out into the harbour, to sluice away sand and sediment.  It is believed that this sluicing probably very early in the nineteenth century.

The east end was now South Wharf was used for landing produce and also for barking the sails of the ships with cutch (catechu), a resinous tannin rich preparation made from boiled oak bark, which was scrubbed onto the sails to help stop them rotting. 

Sleeman's Stores was built in the basin, then the inner, town side wall of the Sluice would have been built, around 1830, allowing other buildings to be built along that side. By 1849 this inner wall was complete, and stores occupied. It is known that at one time the now much smaller basin was used to 'pickle' wood which had been processed by a sawmill housed in a neighbouring building on this town side of the Sluice. A ramp was also used for getting the wood into the Sluice at the west end, near the Mayor's Slip. The Ordnance Survey map of 1888 shows that between 1849 and 1888 an opening had been made in the Sluice wall which would allow entry of a boat once the gate was lifted, and the Sluice was being called a Dry Dock.