The History of Stourport Yacht Club & The Town Clock
The object of the S.Y.C is to encourage yachting and boating in all it’s branches, and to provide headquarters for information and practical assistance connected with yachting and boating.
Since its inception in 1949 founder members met once a month in the Tontine Public House, with its terraced lawns overlooking the river, this Georgian building originally built by The Canal Company as a Hotel for merchants and river travellers. Members at that time numbering aprox: 20. They moved to Lickhill moorings in 1952 using Lickhill Manor (later to be come a retirement home) as H.Q.
The Clock Tower premises now known as the Stourport Yacht Club is situated between Clock Basin and the original and largest of Brindley’s Basin’s Known as the upper Basin which opened in 1771 built high enough for protection from the river Servern’s flooding. Access from the river is via two wide-beam locks large enough to enable the “Severn Trows” which carried amongst other things roof tiles up the river to Bridgenorth, many stopping off at the “Mug House’s on the way.
It had been used by Messrs Corbett’s Wood Merchants (later to be Larch Lap), the building been installed with Gas engines etc; for wood cutting. Corbett’s had vacated the premises late 40s – early 50’s and the building was in a derelict condition. The S.Y.C approached British Waterway’s and obtained the tenancy in 1958.
Three years of sheer hard work ensued for the founder members. They approached the gargantuan task of getting the premises in some order, entirely funded by themselves. They obtained the use of a tractor, and a cement mixer, the cement mixer being towed across the Basin by raft. The ground floor of the building was levelled by using rubble from British Water Way’s cottage’s being demolished from the Angel Inn public house car park. Extensive repair work was undertaken, with members assisting the contractors where possible to keep expenses down.
The official opening of the premises took place in 1961 – Mr. George Hughes from B.W.B South West Division manager officiating.
The club house with the clock tower (also known as The Basin Clock) is a noted landmark, the Georgian building being of historic interest. The clock is older than London’s Big Ben, and was erected by subscription. It was made by Samuel Thorpe of Abberley in 1813, it has 7 weights and 4 dials. Originally time being measured by the quarter beats. Other clocks made by Samuel Thorpe in the area, are at, Glasshampton Monastery Nr. Shrawley, at Rock Church Nr. Bewdley, Gt. Witley Church – the later now replaced. The clock is owned by the town, and was lovingly maintained for many years by a local Pharmacist Mr.J. Lane of Boot’s the chemist (High Street). He attended to the care of the clock in his free time each Wednesday and Sunday until November 1991. In 1995 this task was taken over by Mr. David Little of Stourport on Severn Town Council.
The first known Aerial photograph of Stourport, showing the Yacht Club is dated 1926.
The S.Y.C draws it’s members from a wide area, and from all walks of life, and you do not have to be a boat owner to become a member. We have in the past had amongst our members – Mrs. Elizabeth Mills M.B.E; the Mayor of Stourport, Councilor G. Smart, past Mayor of Stourport on Severn.
Our members can be found in harbours all around the coast, and on the continent. Sea cruises are organised yearly. Navigation classes in the winter months, also V.H.F. Marine radio courses from time to time, various functions and dances take place throughout the year.
The Stourport water carnival is organised by the S.Y.C. and our headquarters used for the choosing of the carnival queen and presenting of prize’s.
1986 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Stourport Yacht Club occupying the premises known as the Clock Tower, Engine Lane, Stourport on Severn.
In keeping with its close ties with Stourport Town Council at our 1997/8 Annual dinner, the Mayor as guest of honour, was presented with a new town fore and aft hat.
Paul Jacques would like to thank the following people for helping me to collate this Information Mrs. Margaret Millington (S.Y.C.), Mr Norman Kidd (S.Y.C.), Mrs. A. Carter (Stourport Civic Society).
The Town Clock
The SYC Club House is located under the old warehouse, below the Clock Tower. The clock was made by Samuel Thorp in 1813.
On the upper left-hand corner of the centre casting is a brass plate inscribed:
Erected by Public Subscription
Made by Samuel Thorp
The original subscription list was recently found in an old wallet purchased at a local car-boot sale. How fortunate the finder recognised its significance. Seventy one subscribers are listed donating a total of £247:16s:0d in amounts ranging from one to ten guineas. An additional unspecified sum was raised amongst a few subscribers to cover the difference between the estimated and final cost. (nothing changes when financing public ventures)
In today’s money the sum collected would be over £6000. Among the subscribers were two MPs, the directors of the Canal Company – the source of Stourport’s prosperity, the Vinegar Works, the Swan Hotel, the Red and White Lion and the Bell public houses together with businesses and names still of note in the town today. The following note on the original list is worthy of comment:
‘Sir Edwd Littleton Bt, Thos & James Perry of Wolverhampton Esqrs. with the other Canal Proprietors give Thos Rowley Junior the grant and liberty to put the Tow Clock on their Warehouse, being the best situation. The Gentlemen of the Town and likewise the wish of the Canal Company that it should be there, till a better situation could be found.’
The formation of English Heritage must have afforded the Town Fathers some relief; they can at last cease their search for a ‘better situation’.
The date of 1813 makes the clock 186 years old and in its present position has marked the passage of Stourport’s time. To put n into an historical perspective, the clock started its life two years before the battle of Waterloo, the end of the Napoleonic Wars and immediately after the infamous land tax of 1811 and 1812. Stourport must have been a ‘ boom town’.
Made by Samuel Thorp of Abberley, who was this man living in the remote village of Abberley able to accept and fulfil such a contract? He was born in Madeley, Shropshire, being baptised on 6th Jan 1765, the eldest of three children in a family of modest means.
He Started his apprenticeship with the celebrated Shrewsbury clock maker Robert Webster in July 1780 at the late age of 15 yrs 6moths. Such a late start could indicate full time education which his will and other surviving examples of his writing support. During this time his locality had three Sunday schools sponsored by Abiah Darby, the widow of Abram Darby II, the Ironbridge iron master and well-known Quaker philanthropist, plus the Grammar School at Wellington, both of which he possibly attended. In his immediate locality all technical advances of the Industrial Revolution wee taking place. He was 16 yrs old when the Iron Bridge was erected.
He came to Abberley sometime in 1790, why is a mystery because as far as can be ascertained he had no connections with the locality. One presumes he saw a business opportunity in ‘booming’ Stourport and with the owners of the twenty-five or so mansions of the nouveaux riches industrialist in the area. The first reference to Abberley is on an application for a special licence to marry and secondly on a marriage certificate recording a marriage to Mary Newall at Ford in Shropshire on the 20th December 1790. He lived in Abberley village as owner/occupier of a house that was converted into two cottages, 36 and 37, sometime after 1883. There were seven children two of which died in infancy and are the only issue buried at Abberley. He left his clock making business to son Thomas who pre-deceased him by six months. Samuel was buried in the old churchyard in Abberley village on 15th Feb 1838 aged 73 and was joined by Mary on 19th February 1843.
He was a private man; his only recorded contribution in Abberley was to vote against the formation of a Parish council. He paid his Poor law and land taxes in full on demand. In 1823 Samuel lost the contract to maintain the clock through neglect, but in 1819 he had been awarded two tracts of land in the parish of Abberley by the visiting Enclosures Commission on which he build two cottages. He was otherwise employed.
He has been described as a clock maker of more than ordinary ability well able to make clocks equal to the London standards of his day as many of hiss surviving fine clocks testify. His horological abilities ranged from pocket watches, long case clocks from simple 30 hour cottage style to eight day regulators, and including bracket clocks. The better clocks all feature innovations peculiar to themselves. Also surviving is a fine compass used in the Abberley coal mines, two spinning wheels, a sun-dial and five turret clocks.