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1929 to...

The History of Hove Lagoon Model Yacht Club

* click any image to view full size version *


1929 Hove & Brighton Model Yacht Club members' boats displayed in a local shop window. 


1937 Cleaning the Lagoon (iii)

These 10-raters in the Clapham Fleet were controlled by Bralne Gear rather than vane steering.


San Francisco MYC using Turning Poles (iv)


The painting of Aldrington Basin, by local artist Brook Harrison, was donated to the Hove Lagoon Model Yacht Club (HLMYC) by Mary Loewenstein who lived in the Seaside Villas ('Millionaires Row').


The original mouth of the river Adur was at the bottom of Hove Street and flowed through the area depicted in the painting. This opening to the sea eventually silted up, leaving a marshy area known as Salt Daisy Lake, which is prominent in Harrison's painting. Salt Daisy Lake later became Hove Lagoon.


The Lagoon was originally a privately owned tidal pond. In 1896 Hove Corporation purchased the area for model boat sailing and water sport use by the local residents.


Conversion of the tidal pond to the Lagoon was started in 1929 by Hove Corporation, using funds from a Great Depression 'Make men useful work' job creation scheme. On 8 February 1929, in anticipation of the Lagoon opening the following year, the Hove & Brighton Model Yacht Cub’ was formed at a committee meeting comprising Mr F C Tansley (Commodore), Lt. Col. Keyworth (Vice President), Major King & Major Phillips.


This first General meeting adopted the rules as recommended by the Model Yacht Association and the annual club subscription was set at five shillings (equivalent 2020 purchasing power about £16). The classes of yachts to be sailed were: ‘A’ international; 10 Rater (Length & Sail Area Class); and the 36 Inch Length which had no restriction on any other dimension (sail area or weight).


The Lagoon was opened in 1930, the layout being much the same then as it is today. It was the venue for serious model yachting events when it first opened and has been used as such right through to today. The only break in this continuity was the Second World War years when it, and the rest of the seafront, became a restricted area. On occasions, particularly in preparation for the 1944 D-day landings, the Lagoon was used in night manoeuvres to test whether armoured tanks were watertight.


Between 1931 and 1939 Commodore F C Tansley edited and produced ‘The Lagoon Times’ the official Brighton & Hove Model Yacht Club newspaper.


According to The Lagoon Times, highlights of the first couple of years of the club's existence were:


* The first inter-club meeting was held at Eastboume in August 1929 for the Chamber of Commerce Trophy.


* Affiliation to the national Model Yachting Association was agreed in January 1930.


* On 20 September 1930, the Club sent twenty members and supporters to race 10 Raters against the London Model Yacht Sailing Association (MYSA) on the Round Pond, Kensington.


* In 1930 the Lagoon water level became very low and appliances were installed to maintain the water at a suitable level.


* Later in the year Hove hosted racing with both Eastboume and the London MYSA clubs. This event attracted an estimated 700 to 800 onlookers.


* In April 1931 juniors, age limit 15 years, were admitted to the club at a fee of two shillings & six pence per annum. Juniors were not permitted to enter club events or store boats. (At that time the two buildings at the western edge of the Lagoon were used for the storage of club members' boats).


* However, on the 22 August 1931 a Junior Regatta was held on the Lagoon and the Club Secretary provided a generous gift of sweets and lemonade.









































Prior to the arrival, in the 1970s, of economically priced radio control equipment, model yachts were controlled with wind-driven vane steering. Boats were match raced until every competitor had raced every other competitor. A race was from one end of the Lagoon to the other and then back; the first leg being a timed beat to windward, the second a timed run downwind.


Yachts had a crew of two: a skipper who set the vane and released the boat on each leg, and a crew member who walked along the side of the Lagoon to tack the boat when it sailed into the side. The crewperson would typically use a pole with a protected tip - a Turning Pole - to set the boat on its new course.



Unfortunately the club has no records for the years 1940 to 1967, apart from a 1952 rule book. However, the Model Maker Magazine of November 1954 Reported on a 10-Rater Championship held at Hove as follows:


The Southwest Shelter was used & had a flagpole with all the thirteen competing club flags displayed. This was a shortened two day event and 26 boats were entered although only 23 competed.


Saturday weather conditions were described as frightening with the wind directly up the lagoon and water washing over & starting to fill the small pond. Planing speeds were high, even with reduced sail area, and a skilful and brave hand was required to stop these boats at the pond-side. Some of these boats were 6 foot long and had a 28 lb displacement. A few bandaged fingers were in evidence. Sunday conditions were much better and some boats now had spinnakers fitted.


Brighton & Hove then hosted a Social Dinner in the Banqueting Hall of Hove Town Hall. This was also attended by the Mayor & Mayoress.


1st place went to the London Club with Hove & Brighton in 2nd place. The results showed the following 12 clubs competed: Birkenhead; Danson; Dovercourt; Guildford; Hastings; Highgate; Hove & Brighton; London; MYSA; Norwich; Poole & Portsmouth.








There is more work to be done to preserve the history of our club from the latter part of the twentieth into the opening decades of the current century.

Watching the little boats


But, thanks to the excellent 'My Brighton and Hove' people's history project


we are able to present the following selection of reminiscences about the Lagoon. Our competitions may no longer attract the 700-800 onlookers reported in the early years of our history, but passers-by still find Sunday morning racing on the Lagoon an interesting and pleasant spectacle, and who knows what images of our beautiful yachts might remain imprinted in the mind of a passing child:

"After reading another writer’s story about the Lagoon, I became very nostalgic. I remember going there with my little brothers and they would put their little boats in the water and watch them sail around. It was a favourite place to go and spend some time when I was about 7 or 8."


"The Hove Lagoon was a special place to us on a Sunday morning in the fifties. Believe it or not we would roller skate from our house in Bennett Road to the lagoon to watch all sorts of model boats. Later on the boats were radio controlled and more sophisticated. On the way home our legs were killing us but we made it in time for Sunday dinner."

By Mick Peirson (23/11/2006)


"We lived on the corner of St Keyna Ave from 1942-51.We were of course barbed wired in from 43, a pass to come home from school etc. When the preparations for D Day were on to my surprise one morning a convoy of trucks drove right through the Lagoon and out the other side.I remember saying “Mum look at what they are doing. All the tiles will be broken!it was a waterproofing test of course and vitally important.The saddest memory was that one night in 1942. All the Canadians billeted at the corner of St Leonards, a large house now gone. They were so friendly and would save their Sweet Caporal cig packets for me. On the reverse were the aircraft recognition pictures. I never managed the set though.Their dissappearance was because of the ill-fated Dieppe raid. I did not find out for years but does so sadden me when I pass and see the site of the old house."

By Richard Stubbs (05/12/2006)


"Oh, what memories! Yes, Mick, those Sunday mornings in the fifties were very special. My dad was one of the model boat enthusiasts that belonged to the club and held regular regattas. I particularly remember one Christmas when Santa brought him a “Taplin Twin” engine for one of his new models and he danced around the dining table with joy! I have many photos of those times and will endeavour to get some onto this site, if someone can tell me how! Dad (Fred Neale) is now 85 and still potters about making sure his boats and planes are in working order. Please let me know if anyone remembers him."

By Patricia Silsby (27/02/2007)


"I was a member of the Hove and Brighton Model Yacht Club from about 1933 when I was 13. I sailed a 302 restricted Class built by my father. I also sailed a 10 rater that belonged to Colonel Keyworth; it was called Divine Lady and was designed and built by Brookes, a professional model maker. With it I won a trophy at Eastbourne and at the Round Pond Kensington. The Commodore of the Club was Mr Tansley. It started my sailing life dinghy sailing and finally a 33 foot yacht that I built and sailed for years in the Mediterranean."

By Syd Porter (05/10/2008)


"Back in the mid 70’s I lived in Burgess Hill I had built a scale plank on frame model of a Scottish Type Zulu Fishing Vessel drawn by Harrold Underhill. It had a full galley and fish pens as original. I brought the boat down to the Hove lagoon on a sunday morning for its maiden voyage. Now the original had a balast of shingle, I opted to use bird cage sand [scale] well the inevitable happened and a gust of wind came across the lagoon and my boat listed to one side before the decks were awash, although in a new suit I immediately waded in and rescued my creation. I have no idea what ever happened to my boat if I gave it away or sold it, anyone know? Just curious. FYI I am currently scratch building a Riva Super Ariston in 1/4 scale".

By David Alchin (01/09/2011)



We also have this British Pathe record, from 30 August 1964, of a yacht rally at the Lagoon:



Painting of Aldrington Basin - Loaned permanently by the HLMYC to the Hove Museum and Art Gallery on 25th October 1995 for safe keeping and for the benefit of the local community. Reproduction courtesy Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust, Brighton & Hove.

(ii), (vii)

Aerial View

A Corner of the Lagoon


cleaning hove lagoon 1937


turning pole san francisco model sailing club


hand coloured photo


pepandtim Follow  - Hove - The Lagoon Prior to 1933

A postcard bearing no publisher's name.

The card was posted in Brighton on Tuesday the 8th. August 1933 to:

Miss K. Garman, 'Sunningdale', Langley Road, Slough, Bucks.

The pencilled message on the divided back of the card was as follows:

"Darling Kathleen, We are staying almost opposite here. We are having a lovely time so far. It's terribly hot, but nice in the sea. I have bought myself a very posh backless scarlet bathing costume this morning so now I must really learn to swim. I will send a prettier card when a few more shops are open. Greetings from George.



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