16/09/2006 - A Brief History
BRBEFORE RECORD WEEK ......
The early attempts at water speed records on Windermere culminated just before the Second World War in the successful but also tragic efforts of Sir Henry Segrave. Segrave's attempts were made over a measured mile which had been marked out towards the Bowness-on-Windermere end of the north part of the lake, the shore marks were on the west bank. While there must have been others who also made successful attempts it was Segrave's exploits which attracted the attention of the public and established Windermere as a venue for attempting speed records on water.
The next successful competitor was Norman Buckley who had purchased Crag Wood, a house on the east shore of Windermere about half way between Bowness-on-Windermere and Waterhead at the north end of the lake. Since Segrave's attempts the rules had changed to allow speed records to be attempted over a kilometre as well as a mile. Buckley had two courses surveyed and land marks erected, one course in the south part of the lake for one, two and three hour records, the other in the north lake was a kilometre for attempting speed records. The shore marks for the kilometre were put up in 1957 and placed on either side of Crag Wood. Both courses saw successful attempts on both national and world records and all the attempts were held under the burgee of Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club.
No doubt there were many conversations and small meetings between Norman Buckley and others who formed the inaugural National Record Attempts Committee under the chairmanship of Eric Middleton of Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club. The other members of the Committee were Derek Wassall and Bert Freeman, John Hicks from Dunlop, nine representatives from BP and from the Royal Yachting Association, Tony Philippson the Assistant Secretary and Mike Mantle the Deputy Assistant Secretary.
Some indication of the confidence of those concerned and of the work which had gone into the proposed attempts before that first official meeting is demonstrated by the letter sent on 16 April by the RYA to Windermere Urban District Council confirming the event was to start Monday 19 October 1970. Ralph Loosemore and Norman Buckley were appointed Observers, with John Hicks as Chief Timekeeper and Eric Middleton as his Assistant. Tony Needell and Reg Trevellick were appointed Measurers and David Dawes and John Pike from BP would attend to Publicity and the Press. Dr. Stephen Darbishire was to be asked to attend as Chief Medical Officer and correspondence shows that in July, St. John Ambulance were to be asked for their assistance by Eric Middleton.
The inaugural meeting was held on 25 June 1970 at Shell-Mex House, The Strand, London. The superb support given by BP enabled the first of the unique series of Record Weeks to start with the organisation and personnel which have been built on so satisfactorily in the following years. The event was titled the 'BP National Powerboat Record Attempts'.
The Committee considered laying both the endurance course in the south lake and the kilometre course in the north lake with mornings being scheduled for one hour attempts over the endurance course and speed attempts over the kilometre in the afternoons. They decided there was sufficient support to enable them to confine their efforts to the kilometre. The first schedule of attempts allowed each entrant to compete on just one day with a maximum of thirteen competitors a day, the competitors listed for any one day being allowed one attempt for their £5 entry fee with additional attempts costing £1.
The second meeting of the Committee was held at the Low Wood Hotel on 15 July when the site details were determined. The minutes record : 'After lunch, Mr Buckley kindly arranged for the party to board his cruiser to view from the lake the kilometre course and boathouse to be used by the race officials.
The third meeting was held at Broad Leys, the clubhouse of Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club on 3 September. This meeting reveals the names of those who were really responsible for the work and organisation of the first Record Week: Middleton (Chairman), Bloomfield, Buckley, Dawes, Downing, Hammersley, Hicks, Pike and Mantle.
THE GREEN SHED AND OTHER MATTERS ......
The first Week was completed with BP as sponsors and the RYA providing the secretarial work. John Reed took over as chairman for the second year, freeing Eric Middleton to concentrate on his main enthusiasm - timekeeping. For the third Week, 1972, the course markers were transferred to the west bank to permit competitors to take advantage of the calmer water normally to be found under the west shore - the prevailing wind being from the west. In times of high water it also enabled the timekeepers to reach their stations either by lake or from the lakeside track, and while the timing machine operators might sometimes have to wear waders, the other staff enjoy firm ground in contrast to the south marks on the east bank where in times of high water everyone needed waders. The transfer of marks was registered with the Union Internationale Motonautique, the international governing body. From 1972 the west bank has been the permanent home of the timekeepers.
Compared to to-day, the launch, recovery and pits facilities were modest to absent, there was the large, green painted corrugated steel shed, a single track to the lake edge, a jetty and a small pits area. The hydroplane community immediately decided to appropriate an area of the beach and there they have remained, except on a couple of occasions when the water level rose to obliterate the beach. Access to the green shed was, occasionally, somewhat limited - from time to time it contained substantial quantities of highly combustible liquids !!!br /br /Record Week was most fortunate to retain the support of BP for long enough to enable the event to become such a very valuable part of the powerboating calendar. After BP another major sponsor could not be found and Record Week would have foundered without the financial support of a few generous supporters, without many of the officials and helpers bearing their own expenses, and, without the continuing support of the RYA which carried on with the secretarial support and the day-to-day management of the Week. In 1977 Record Week secured the support of a Merseyside sports newspaper, the Week was arranged, the budget agreed which provided for accommodation and other expenses, then, at the end of August the sponsors pulled out and the 1977 Record Week was cancelled.
The cancellation revealed the depth of support there was for the event and this enabled enthusiasts from Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club and Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club to re-form the Committee without sponsors, without the assistance at the event of the RYA and with a new chairman, new officers and with many old and new helpers - the present Record Week Organising Committee is largely formed from those responsible for the 1978 re-start. One of the first decisions of the new committee was that Record Week would never again be put in the position where a sponsor could wreck plans for a Record Week. Starting in 1978 the officials and helpers have borne all their own expenses and devoted a week of their holidays to Record Week.
The arrangements made by the 1978 committee have been altered in many details but the basic structure for the event still provides the framework for the present committee.
In 1978 the Record Week Organising Committee quickly expanded to include enthusiasts from all over the country and representing the various types of powerboat racing. The same applies to-day. It is their time and expertise together with the vital support from the fund raising activities and the social arrangements of the Windermere Water Speed Records Club which have given Record Week the organisational skills and the financial independence to become a permanent fixture on the powerboat calendar.
16/09/2006 - 2004 and beyond..........
Record Week 2004 was the thirty-fifth Record Week, surely not something which could have been envisaged by Norman Buckley and Eric Middleton in 1970. Record Week still provides a special time every year when all sections of the sport meet to attempt records over the measured kilometre, to meet in competition and socially every day and in the evenings to support the Windermere Water Speed Record Club (WWSRC).
Record Week 2004 turned out to be the last Record Week on Windermere, for the time being. The National Park Authority "won" the fight to introduce a 10 M.P.H. speed limit on Windermere, that came into force on 1st April 2005.
The Record Attempts Committee moved quickly to put things into place to run Record Week at Coniston for 2005. Under the guidance of Chairman Robin Brown, several visits to Coniston took place to assess the logistics of the new set up. It was decided to put the timing positions on the West shore, easily and quickly accessed from the village. The pits area would be at the Coniston Boating Centre, next to the Bluebird Café. The safety course would be in the north west of the lake. Robin and Richard Solomon attended many meeting locally, the result being that Planning permission for 2005 Record Week was granted.
The week was an overwhelming success. One day was lost due to high winds, otherwise the transfer went remakably well, the first run going down the course at a few minutes past eight on the Monday morning.
Success on the water was mirrored by the success of the week off the water. With Coniston being a small village, the majority of the competitors and officials were resident in the village for the week. This meant and end of season boost for local hotels, rented properties, shops and perhaps, most of all, pubs! It was impossible to go out and not bump into someone connected with Record Week.
Feedback from the Local Authority, businesses, residents and people involved with Record Week at Coniston has been very positive.
So much so that Record Week has continued to be held with great success on Coniston.
We don't know what the future holds for Record Week. Many of the organisers have spent more than 40 years "in the job". Some new blood would be most welcome. Helpers are always required. If you can help and wish to get involved please contact Record Week
R.M.Solomon & Mike Twigg