A VARIETY of vessels took to the water - including racing yachts, schooners, pleasure steam boats, cargo ships, warships and lifeboats - at Rawdon Model Boat Club’s recent open day.

There has been a model boat club in Rawdon since 1930, when boats were first sailed on Larkfield Tarn. The model boats were raced in pairs, two boats going out, two coming in, and wooden walkways were built around the lake. When radio controlled racing became popular, the club developed.

Says Mike Critchlow at RMBC: “Model yacht skippers used to come from all over the North to sail in ‘open races’ organised by the club on behalf of the Model Yachting Association. Over the years members built a boat shed and clubhouse, which still stand today.

“In 2005/6 the club reformed as Rawdon Model Boat Club. Members invested funds into buying the lake, improving the boat shed and clubhouse, as well as rebuilding the dock and landing stage on the edge of the lake.

This lifeboat was one of many model boats on displayThis lifeboat was one of many model boats on display (Image: Mike Critchlow)

“Our clubhouse is one of the best in the North; we have boat storage, repair workshops, kitchen facilities, a social room and outdoor seating to enjoy the lake and watch the boats. It’s a great place to be even on a rainy day. Our kitchen volunteers produce excellent cooked breakfasts on Sunday mornings.”

Th club has more than 100 sailing members and around 40 social and junior members. “Our members build and sail all kinds of ships and boats, from submarines to schooners and everything in between,” says Mike. “One member specialises in American Civil War battle ships - a sight to see! We have fast electric boats, scale warships, cargo vessels, tugs and fishing boats. My favourites are model racing yachts. We follow the same racing rules as full-size boats, the connection between skipper and boat can be intense; I’ve seen skippers walking along the bank concentrating on their boats so fiercely that they don’t look where they’re going and end up in the lake!”

Model ketch, the Colin Archer, on the waterModel ketch, the Colin Archer, on the water (Image: Mike Critchlow)

The open day was a great success, says Mike: “We had a brilliant day, lots of visitors, sunshine and fun. I’d like to thank everyone for helping to make it a success.”

The club even has its own construction team - the SeaTeas. Says Mike: “In March 1942, during World War 2, in the Pacific theatre of operations, the US Navy formed a Construction Battalion of fighting engineers that became known as the Seabees. They were tasked with constructing airfields, harbours, pontoons and other infrastructure to support the US military in pushing back enemy forces. More than 80 years on, RMBC has formed its own construction team, SeaTeas, to rebuild and refurbish the harbour facilities on Larkfield Tarn. They do a magnificent job, their morale maintained by cups of tea and good-natured banter.”

A fast pleasure boat A fast pleasure boat (Image: Mike Critchlow)

Alan, Nick and Stuart, aided by Dave, Mick and others, worked tirelessly to prepare ‘Port Rawdon’ for the open day. “The harbour was last seen on the water in 2019, before Covid curtailed club activities. Since then the buildings and pontoons have languished in a shed, untended and unseen,” says Mike. “This year we invited visitors from far and wide to come and see our renewed harbour in all its glory, as well as to enjoy our model boats and beautiful lake.”

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