This page is to provide information about some of the history of the Club. We also want to include some of the members old photos showing the people and life at the club as it was.
Click on the table to see it in full
The history in more detail
(Can also be downloaded as a pdf: History)
A Brief History
The Royal Forth yacht Club was founded on the 16thof May 1868 as ‘Granton Yacht Club’ by a group of 26 local gentlemen who were interested in the encouragement of active boating among the people of Edinburgh and the annual subscription was 6 shillings. Mr George Stevenson of Granton was the first President and Mr Robert Darling of Trinity the first Secretary.
The name was changed to ‘Forth Yacht Club’ on the 4th of April 1872 and then in 1883, through the good offices of Lord Rosebery, her Majesty Queen Victoria was ‘graciously pleased to command’ that henceforth the Club would be known as the ‘Royal Forth Yacht Club’. Lord Rosebery unfurled the first flag of the Royal Forth in 1883 and there was a celebratory serving of cake and wine and a display of fireworks.
During its early years the Club had no headquarters and held its meetings in various hotels, in particular the Wardie Hotel and the Waterloo and Prince of Wales hotels. In 1881 the desire for a home of its own resulted in the purchase of 1 Boswall Road Edinburgh (Eildon Lodge) at a cost of £1875, ‘furnished by a bond of £1500 plus a loan of £400 and repaid by £50 debentures over many years’. The Clubhouse was extended in 1890 at a cost of £510. The Club remained here till the opening of the new Clubhouse in1984 on the Middle Pier.
Granton Yacht Club was not the first club in the area, in 1835 a group of local gentlemen had formed the ‘Eastern Yacht Club’based on the harbour at Granton which was then being built by the Duke of Buccleuch. In 1836, the Duke prevailed upon King William IV to grant the royal accolade and the club became the ‘Royal Eastern Yacht Club’. Its main practical purpose was to hold an annual regatta on the Forth. The Royal Eastern developed as a gentleman’s club eventually with a club room on Princes Street and the only active sailing activity was the annual regatta. It fell on hard times in the late 19thC and sold its assets on Princes Street and became a club in name only until the last three members and its remaining assets were absorbed by the Royal Forth Yacht Club in 1969.
A third club, the ‘Almond yacht Club’ came into being in Granton in 1897 and existed alongside the Royal Forth Yacht Club for many years. It was a club of active sailors and many matches were held between the two clubs, there was also close collaboration as sailing developed from a few large sailing yachts weighing many tons to larger numbers of smaller racing class yachts. The interests of the two clubs converged and in 1957 the members of Almond Yacht Club amalgamated with Royal Forth. Some of the trophies still presented today reflect their history.
The Forth Corinthian yacht Club was formed in Granton in 1880, sharing the harbour with the other three clubs of the day and remains based at Granton.
The Royal Forth has to date operated out of Granton Harbour, now under the ownership of Forth Ports Authority. The West harbour was partially in filled in the 1970s and further recent infilling reduced the size of the deeper west harbour which has remained undeveloped for some time. Both the west and shallower east harbour have swinging moorings.
Just as the larger yachts of the Almond Yacht Club gave way to smaller racing classes the pace of life changes and there is now a mix of racing and cruising yachts based at Granton. In the early eighties there were a number of one design classes: Skua, Yoeman, Soling, Etchells, Dragon, IOD, fast and slow handicap, now there are: H-boats, 707s and there remain a few Dragons and the handicap yachts.
Although events such as the Dragon Gold and Edinburgh Cups have not been raced on the Forth since the mid-eighties in recent years the attraction of the City of Edinburgh and the excellent open racing water have resulted in the prestigious S&S AGM being held at the Club, the RS Elite Nationals and in 2014 the 707 Nationals. Since 1968 a fleet of German yachts has raced across on a biannual basis, this event has remained popular with increasingly large yachts making the crossing. The founder of the race, Dr Meinhard Kohfahl was made an honorary member in 1987 We are fortunate in having HRH Prince Philip (whose name appears as a winner on club trophies) as an honorary member and HRH the Princess Royal who is also our Patron.
The Club continues to change and evolve and the ownership of Boswall Bittern for maintenance dredging may lead to exciting new developments.
Acknowledgement: Bill Titterington Past Hon. Sec.
Past Commodores of the Royal Forth Yacht Club
1868 George Stevenson
1872 Rear Admiral James Paterson Bower
1875 Captain James Arthur Forbes R.N.
1879 John Morison
1881 Thomas Craigie Glover
1883 Sir Donald Currie G.C.M.G.
1910 Archibald Philip Primrose, Earl of Rosebery K.G.K.T.
1929 John Ferguson
1937 Alexander James Ferguson
1947 John Alexander MacQueen
1957 The Hon. Lord Cameron D.S.C.
1969 Hugh Arnott
1972 James Leask
1975 Kenneth l Gumley
1977 Roger O S Miller
1979 Marshall L Napier
1981 Hamish Mackenzie
1983 Harry Holmes
1885 Neil A Ross
1987 R Alexander Flett
1989 Davis S C Boyd
1991 William G T Rudd
1993 Michael H G Pollett
1995 Catherine H Sedgworth
1997 Stuart M Crombie
1999 W David D Darling
2001 Ian W Paterson
2003 George C Brown
2006 James A G Lowe
2009 Fiona M Brown
Member’s Historical Photos:
Ken Dougall has sent a picture of Lough the boatman ferrying people to their boats from the steps at the bottom of the slipway (where the marina ramp is now). The person carrying the sail bag and smoking is Ken’s dad on his way to his Loch Long number 11 “Roma”.