The objectives of the Thames Traditional Boat Society are:
- To encourage the use of traditional unpowered boats through organising rallies, cruises and social events.
- To encourage the restoration and maintenance of existing craft and the building of new ones.
- To provide spokespeople to represent the interests of traditional boat owners to relevant authorities.
- To encourage young people and newcomers to improve their standard of watermanship.
- To maintain historical records for the benefit of Members and future generations.
The Society was founded in 1980 to promote the continued use and conservation of traditional, non-powered craft, mainly Skiffs, Dinghies, Punts and Canoes. During the summer months, weekend and longer cruises are organized and rallies, regattas and festivals on waterways in the UK and abroad are attended. During the winter months social events with a boating theme are arranged.
Whilst the Society’s interests centre around the traditional hand-built timber craft so popular in Victorian and Edwardian times, all unpowered boating is encouraged, members with other types of boat are most welcome and you do not have to own a boat to join the Society.
We produce a quarterly magazine which reports on any activities, relevant news items and members may advertise boats etc. for sale. In between we send out Bulletins occasionally to remind everyone of forthcoming events. We do use e-mail for this where possible but otherwise members receive a hard copy.
Our members come from all walks of life; some have grown up with boating and for others it is a new pastime when time allows. Many members own boats, some of which have been in families for many years, but anyone interested is welcome to come along to events. Often on day cruises there are spare seats in boats and an extra crew member to cox or scull can be very welcome!
If you are not very practised there will be someone to advise and pass on helpful hints on improving your style.
Several members are expert craftsmen and restoring and maintaining craft is always high on the agenda of any gathering. Again, advice on what to use and how to do it is always at hand. Not all our boats are historic and traditionally built; all hand propelled craft are of interest.
Our base – “Port Fonty”
A major milestone for the Society was the official opening in April 2005 of ‘Port Fonty’, its new permanent base on the water near Reading. This includes a new purpose built boat storage facility, developed with the help of members’ loans and donations.
It all started as a ‘Dream’ of our then President John Fontannaz at the Society AGM in 2001. This only became possible through David Sherriff’s great generosity in finding the plot of land on which to build the facility and the hard work and determination of a number of Society members. The three prime movers were Gavin Dunbar, John Galley and Edward Lines.
It is the venue for Society boating days at which all comers are welcome.