Early history of Brighton Sailing Club

The Club was founded on May 1st 1871. It is described in newspaper articles of 1871 and 1877, and the flag is shown in book of 1896. Minutes of the Club are in the Keep.

1.      Brighton Gazette July 27th 1871.

Immediately to the west of the New Pier and under the Esplanade, is a commodious room, open daily from morn till night, well furnished, and supplied with the daily London and local papers, the London Observer, &c. From the window is obtained a charming view for a considerable distance of the ocean, and no better place exists for witnessing the many sailing and rowing matches at this period of the year. Seated here of a summer’s evening may be seen many gentlemen enjoying a glass of wine, aerated waters, or Messrs Bass and Allsopp’s fluids, and a cigar. Click for more


In 1872 a series of races was reported:   click here for pdf


2.      Brighton Gazette May 2nd 1877 

The Brighton Sailing Club, which has now grown to be such important and interesting feature to those who take an interest in aquatics, celebrated the sixth anniversary of its foundation yesterday (Tuesday.)  Click for more;   original article (pdf)


3.      The Club’s flag is shown in a book of yacht and sailing club flags of 1896 (figure 1); this is labelled Lloyd’s Yacht Register and McCorquodale (there is now a printing company by this name).

This was found on eBay by Nick Driver in 2020, and the physical paper page was purchased.


Figure 1 page of flags

It is planned to keep this in The Keep (a local secure archive building), with a printed copy in the Club main arch.

The information on the Brighton Club (figure 2) is clear: it was established in 1871. Its president (in 1896) was Mr Alderman Cox JP, the vice-presidents were Major Woodhead and JW Howlett Esq, and the secretary was Walter Woodhams Esq. For residents the entrance fee (presumably the joining fee) was  £3 3s 0d (3 guineas) and the annual subscription was two guineas. The flag appears to contain 2 green dolphins. High resolution file.


Figure 2 Brighton Sailing Club flag and officers

4.      The Keep is a local archive that has various documents on the early life of the Club. Jim Parrot visited on April 30th 2021 and photographed a lot.


Figure 3 Club minutes book 1875-78

Click to view Jim’s photos

5.      There was a tradition of recreational sailing from the beach at Brighton, along with much fishing.  The James Gray collection by Brighton Regency Society gives an example from 1868.




And found by Dave Floyd, thought to be 1862-67 (complete with chickens and bathing huts).

Some of the sail rigs look amazingly complex, and the boats look really heavy to haul up the beach. Maybe steam winches, or manpower?


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Paul Tofts

May 30th 2021