2024 Provisional Regatta programme now available ..............
News - 2018

Once the ice finally cleared from the lake we started the season doing our annual lake cleaning exercise, filling a skip with dead leaves and branches from the lake. As in previous years we purchased and added the blue food dye to the lake (to control weed growth) and we looked all set to go. The first half of the year went very well, but we soon found that the long hot summer weather had a down side. Little did we know that 2018 would turn out to be the year of the drought for Paddy's lake. The water level in the lake gradually dropped away until by mid July we had to stop sailing the straight running boats because the the propellers where picking up debris from the bottom of the lake and boats were flying off course in all directions. To make matters worse the low water level meant that wading in the lake became somewhat dangerous. Without the buoyancy produced by the water our feet were simply sinking deep into the mud. The picture below taken in late July is reminiscent of an empty reservoir with old buildings appearing from the depths for the first time in living memory.

None of us can remember ever having so little water and that has to be due to the trees planted 25 years ago all along the Dene side of the lake which are now mature and will be drawing water from the lake with their roots. Happily the Radio control models were able to sail by staying away from the shallow areas though putting out the courses proved to be challenging.

Our annual charity regatta weekend to raise funds for the RNLI was successful though due to the water shortage we could only put on a static display of straight runners. At least the radio boats were able to sail and put a good display of "free sailing" thoughout the weekend.


The other main issue in 2018 has been the plan by the city council to transfer control of the city parks, allotments and green spaces from themselves to a new "Parks Trust" which is currently being set up. Ever since Jesmond Dene and Paddy Freemans was given to the city by Lord Armstrong, the council has run and maintained them for the benefit of the local citizens. However over the past few years the council took the decision to dramatically cut the funding for the parks to almost nothing. The staff have largely been made redundant or re-deployed and the few remaining staff have had the difficult task of trying to maintain what they can mainly using volunteers. In 2017 the council came up with a proposal to create a "parks trust" to take over the running of the parks. This scheme has since been approved by the council and the new organisation is gradually taking shape, recruiting and creating the systems needed to take over and run the parks, allotments and green spaces. The council expect to hand over the parks in March-April 2019. The new parks trust will be a charitable body who will need to raise funding to cover their costs. They will operate mainly with volunteers and will operate in a very different way to the council. The existing parks staff will transfer into the new trust when it starts.

The new trust may turn out to be the saviour of the parks, but as with all things, the need for them to raise funding to make the trust self financing is a source of worry for all organisations both private and commercial that operate in the parks. We have been tenants of the boathouse since it was built in the 1920's and a fixure in the park since our formation in 1910, so hopefully the trust will see us and the work we do as an asset and not just another source of revenue.

2018 has also been noticable as the year when steam power made a breakthrough back into mainstream propulsion for straight runners. Once steam power was used for all straight runners, but gradually petrol engines and more recently electric power have taken over. The skills required to maintain and run steamers has been all but lost. Happily many of the clubs steamers are being brought out of retirement and are once again sailing. The skills shortage is being addressed and the prospect of more steamers sailing in the next couple of years is a real possibility.