HomeHistoryClub HistoryThe first hundred years – Part III

The first hundred years – Part III

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As the 1930s drew to a close, war once again cast its shadow. Blyth Harbour was closed to the public in 1939, the yachts were laid up, and the House Yacht was requisitioned by the Admiralty, to provide a ward-room for the Wrens who provided the Port Operations for the submarines stationed there. The House Yacht was de-requisitioned in October 1945 and re-opened to the members the following December. By all accounts, the House Yacht was left in a sorry state, and the Committee of the day reported an “inadequate settlement” of £270, for damage and loss of chattles, on top of which the Inland Revenue demanded 10 shillings in the £ in respect of the rental paid by the Admiralty which meant setting aside £700 for unpaid tax.

HY Tyne II capsizedAll these problems were overcome, and the Club returned to its former activities. Then on Wednesday 26th October 1949 disaster struck, when the House Yacht capsized at her moorings in a violent northerly gale. The Steward and Stewardess, Charles and Jean Wilson, were asleep in their quarters, when at 2.00 a.m.at the height of the gale, the vessel started rolling and pounding against the dolphin. They escaped in their night clothes, and although Mr Wilson was prepared to go aboard again to retrieve the Club’s cash box and the records, Tyne II capsized to starboard and buried her upperworks in the mud of the harbour bottom. The cause of the capsize was never finally established, but clearly the vessel had taken water into the bilge, probably through one of the square windows near the waterline, which given the vessel’s hull form- hard chine with a shallow vee bottom – rapidly produced a catastrophic loss of stability.

Not only was the Club without premises, but it was also faced with the very serious problem of removing the wreck of the Cretehatch. Salvage might have been technically feasible but was too expensive and the vessel was a constructive total loss; insurers settling the claim for £4,700. In 1950, premises were found in the former Air Sea Rescue quarters, at the shoreward end of the Middle Jetty, and Blyth Harbour Commission came to the rescue with a handsome offer to work on breaking the wreck whenever their labour force was not otherwise engaged.

That solved the immediate problem. In the longer term new permanent quarters were required. In 1952, the Club learned that Trinity House had for sale a Lightship, constructed of teak on oak, L.V. 50, named Calshot Spit. She was lying in Harwich Roads at the mouth of the Orwell. In April 1952, a viewing party consisting of Michael Bartlett, Robin Walker, Tom Newbigin, and Whitton Christie travelled to Ipswich, where they were met by Sam Notcutt, and Captn. Charles Groves for the inspection. An offer was made for L.V. 50, but the vessel was sold to another purchaser. However the Club eventually agreed terms and the vessel was towed north through the generosity of Frank Batey, and Batey’s Tugs, arriving at Blyth on 3rd August 1952.

House Yacht Tyne III

House Yacht Tyne III

L.V. 50 was fitted out in a berth alongside the ‘German’ Sheds,and put into commission in 1954, although it was 1957 before the wreck of the Cretehatch was finally cleared away (parts of her are still to be seen within the Harbour) and H.Y. Tyne III was towed to her present berth. Her hull is regularly surveyed and is still sound. She was dry-docked in 1976, on account of a troublesome leak, but it turned out to be no more than the caulking, and her latest survey in 1989 was satisfactory. From time to time her deckhouses have been renewed, in steel and in aluminium, and the ravages of time have made it necessary to remove the shell of the light itself from the mast, and also the wooden top-mast, so that externally she may be said to have lost some of her former glory. Internally, a continual process of improvement has produced an environment that is warm, dry, and comfortable.

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