Medley Sailing Club - a brief history

For a more in-depth history, written at the time to mark the 50th anniversary of the Club, see :

Medley Sailing Club was founded in 1937. Activities lapsed during the second World War and the Club was re-formed in November 1946, since when it has operated continuously on a beautiful, unexpectedly-rural stretch of the River Thames close to the centre of Oxford on Port Meadow between Medley and Godstow.

Originally based at Bossom's moorings at Medley, the Club first occupied a small boat shed on the river bank next to Bossom's boatyard which was used to dry sails. In the early years the racing fleet was very mixed, including a 19ft Sharpie built from war-surplus off-cuts and a Norfolk punt.

Moths racing at the Welsh Harp in 1957 - not Medley but a Medley winner!
Sailing at Medley in 1957 / 1958 © Roger Redknap


In 1954, the Club rented a plot next to the current one (now occupied by the Sea Scouts). The new boathouse - like many future Medley projects - was financed and built by Club members. The Club moved to its current site in 1959, with working parties of members first erecting a boathouse followed by a separate Clubhouse (designed by a Club member) in 1960. These buildings are still used today.

Medley's fleet included the distinctive British Moth river sailing dinghy from the outset and the Club adopted the British Moth for class racing in 1950. Moths are very much part of Medley's history and the Club is an active participant in the British Moth Boat Association (BMBA), with Medley members winning honours in many national class events over the years. Moth Open Meetings have been held at Medley since 1952.

Enterprises still form the core of the second biggest fleet at Medley. The Club adopted the class in 1960, but it was not until 1962 that there were enough Enterprises in the club to support independent class racing. Currently, there are three fleets at Medley - British Moths, a Fast Fleet (mainly Enterprises) and a Slow Fleet (mainly Toppers, some Mirrors and a Heron).

Medley's biggest challenge came in 1966 with the formation of the Oxford Sailing Club at Farmoor. Like other local sailing clubs, Medley lost many of its most competitive members who were attracted by the wide open spaces and more conventional racing conditions offered by the reservoir. But Medley successfully re-invented itself as a "family sailing club" - a role that persists today - and competitive handicap racing continued supported by the Moth fleet, most of whom remained loyal to the Club.

Sailing at Medley in 1957 / 1958 © Roger Redknap

Vice Commodores

With the Club thriving again by the 1970s, members embarked on extensive improvements to its facilities, introducing running water, flush toilets and mains electricity - all of which are now taken for granted. The Clubhouse was extended in 1997 to include a new ladies' changing room and an expanded kitchen area and bar. Once again the work was led by Club members. To this day most of the maintenance and care of the Club's facilities is carried out voluntarily by members.

Medley's current mix of activities has evolved over the years and reflects the enthusiasm and interests of its members past and present. As well as an extensive programme of Sunday afternoon and Wednesday summer evening racing, the Club supports an active social calendar. An annual end-of-season dinner has been held every year since 1952. Other regular Medley events include the "Autumn Candle" sailing race in the dark, a Club cruise and camp at Eynsham Lock, the May Morning fun race and breakfast and the Paper Boat Race which marks the start of the Medley Summer Regatta. Since 2001, the life of the Club and its members has been celebrated in the thrice-yearly magazine, The Ripple

Rear Commodores