North Devon is renowned for its coast and countryside, with some of the best beaches in the country creating a vibrant watersports culture along the coast. But there are no watersports facilities in Barnstaple, and very few people using the Taw Estuary for leisure or recreation.
Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club needs a new home as the site we rent is being redeveloped for housing. We have fundraised to buy a building to use as our clubhouse and our new (ok, so actually it's quite old) building on Rolle Quay will become the Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club and Watersports Hub. We want to encourage more people to use the water, and help more watersports clubs and enthusiasts to develop.
We want to be able to open the hub for use by the wider public. It's in a bit of a sorry state though, so we need to renovate and refurbish. Here's our story so far, and how you can help us with the fairy tale ending:
Phase 1 - complete - we found an ideal building, right by a slipway (no more need to hold up the traffic while we pull the boats through the town) and we fundraised over £200,000 through local events and grant funding to buy the building. We are now the proud owners of a bit of a project!
Phase 2 - complete - evict the pigeons and fix the roof to stop them coming back. We've actually had it completely re-roofed in slate, and are in the process of insulating it. We've raised enough money for this too
Phase 3 - here's where we need help the building still needs refurbishment - insulation, re-wiring, plumbing, heating and the nicer things in life, like toilets, a kitchen, floors and carpetting. We don't have enough money left for this, and need to fundraise more to complete the renovation.
When complete we will have a boat store and workshop on the ground floor, a secure compound for storing trailers, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and other equipment, plus a large meeting room and training room on the first floor. We can use this as a gym and for meetings. We will be able to offer this space for use by Community groups. We would like to invite other watersport enthusiasts to use the facilities. We would like to offer taster sessions to voluntary and community groups, sports clubs, Scout groups and Youth Groups.
Our close proximity to the slipway will allow people to use the hub to store equipment, change and get ready - we'd like to see kayakers, paddle boarders, wind-surfers and a wide range of other watersports on the River Taw.
We have a lot of volunteers in the club who have the skills to do a lot of the work, but we need to raise funds to buy the materials, hardware and sanitaryware. We aim to complete the work and open to the public in time for our 10th anniversary in 2020.
This hub will be the beginning of a new watersports culture in Barnstaple. Come along with us for the journey.