In December 1895 Sgt Major Burton RE together with like minded men from Chatham Dockyard and a few local traders met at a cafe in Old Brompton to discuss the idea of forming a sailing club.
After approval a second meeting at the Admiralty Tavern, Gillingham in January 1896 elected Burton as Commodore, set a monthly subscription and chose a burgee. A disused waiting room on the West arm of Gillingham pier was rented from the local council at £2 per annum as a store. The club remained here until 1924 when it moved the store to a new site on the East arm of the pier and erected a clubhouse on land leased from Novadels paint company
Access to the water was via Admiralty pier and the club employed a boatman to ferry members to and from their craft. Early activities were cruises in company and handicap racing. The cruises were led by the Commodore or Vice Commodore followed by the members who received points for good station keeping and smart seamanship. The first took place on 7th April 1896, a smoking concert was held at the Admiralty Tavern afterwards.
The Commodore also gave lectures on seamanship and navigation and a closing dinner was usually held in November. The annual subscription was 12/6d (65p).
In 1960 the land at Gillingham pier was lost and the Club relocated to two areas on the South bank of the River Medway at Gillingham, the dinghy park and Clubhouse at "The Strand" leisure park and the workshops, slip and winter berthing areas at the "Anchorage" boat yard in nearby Waterside Lane.
The Club is a non-profit making organization and is administered by a Committee, elected from the membership
The Medway Cruising Club's primary objective is to provide affordable access to facilities that encourage active participation in sailing, racing and motorboat cruising. Members own a wide variety of craft including sailing dinghies, cruising yachts, and motor cruisers. We also have a strong section whose interests lie in building and restoring traditional craft. Members own a variety of gaffers, smacks and other wooden craft.
We cannot emphasise enough that we encourage "an active membership". This entails not only participating in club events but also helping with the maintenance and running of the club. This helps keep our membership fees to a minimum and promotes friendship and enjoyment through working together.
The River Medway is ideally positioned for cruises to the East Coast with its many Rivers, the North Kent Coast and across to the continent. However, when sailing time is limited the River Medway itself has a few popular creeks suitable for a quiet and safe overnight anchorage. Within very easy distance is the Swale, with a variety of creeks enabling visits to Faversham, Oare and Conyer . It is still possible, especially during the week to find many quiet anchorages that are reminiscent of the Maurice Griffiths "Magic of the Swatchways" era.
The old club buildings at Gillingham Pier