It was thanks to the railways that the club occupies a former 'coal drop' basin on the Regents Canal built in 1868 to tranship coal from the Midlands to canal boats. The basin fell into disuse before the Second World War and was taken over the British Transport Commission as part of the nationalisation of inland waterways in 1948. At this time the Regents Canal was still a busy canal link with Limehouse Basin and the Thames. With the rundown of Docklands commercial use of the basin declined and local boaters saw it as a convenient mooring which led to the formation of St Pancras Cruising Club in 1958 with Will Honey as its first commodore. Meetings were held in the cottage of the local lockkeeper Fred Plank until 1962 when SPCC were granted a lease from the newly formed British Waterways Board on a workshop building at the basin. Members converted part of the premises into a clubhouse whilst retaining workshop facilities.
It was the late Dennis Cole, the club's commodore in 1965, who conceived the AWCC on the lines of SPCC's aims: to unite boaters in practical ways, such as offering temporary moorings and assistance when needed, as well as campaigning for the waterways and boating facilities.
By the late 1960s the club had close on 60 boat owning members, of which only one was a narrowboat which now predominate. London has always been known for its colourful characters and the club has had its share. There were the Micawberish 'Clampitts' who ran their boat on a wing and a prayer, hoping for the best, which generally did not happen. There was the boater who winched his boat up on the slip, removed a few planks and attempted to commit suicide on the lawn. Fortunately his bid failed, so he replaced the planks and sailed away into the sunset. Then there was the member who tarred the hull of his boat but did not discover two 12 in. chocks stuck below the waterline until two cruising seasons later. Another story tells of Dan who lived throughout one hard winter in the confines of a Wendy house mounted on his catamaran.
The club has had to defend itself against attack on at least two occasions. The first was against the GLA under newt loving Ken Livingston, which tried to evict the club to make way for his Camley St Wildlife Park. A boundary dispute ensued with fence movements at dead of night. Matters were eventually amicably resolved. A more serious threat came from the London Regeneration Consortium(LRC) Plans for the redevelopment of Kings Cross were unveiled including a Cross Channel Rail Link for which the basin would be sacrificed and the club moved to an 1831 coal basin nearby. The club engaged a barrister to petition the bill. The bill eventually floundered but a new scheme floated by Union Rail for a northern rail route to connect with a Channel Tunnel terminus at St Pancras. Once again the club got on the campaign trail. It was a red-letter day when Union Rail confirmed that the club's moorings and headquarters would not be permanently affected although the construction period is proving to be very fraught.(the latest date for the completion of the regeneration of Kings Cross is 2021!) Nevertheless, SPCC is still operational
With greater security of tenure, SPCC is now concentrating on improving its facilities. Our new dry dock was opened in 2001 and is proving to be hugely popular. Extensions and improvements to the clubhouse are planned. The welcome to visiting boaters remains
Copyright 2003 SPCC
Last modified 28/10/2008