SteerLiz, Author at Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club held a topping-out ceremony on Sunday 8th December 2019

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club held a topping-out ceremony on Sunday 8th December 2019 at their recently acquired premises, attended by Barnstaple Town Mayor, councillors, members of other local gig clubs, benefactors, and club members. The ceremony was to celebrate completion of the new roof on the 19th century warehouse purchased by BPGC in July this year, after a two-year fund raising effort to raise the purchase price, and to showcase work done on the building to date and the plans for future work.

On a windy and showery day the bacon rolls and hot drinks provided by the club for all present were most welcome. The club chairman Kevin Ward welcomed all those present, briefly explaining the work done to date and thanking all who have worked so hard on the project, before introducing Alan Rennles, Barnstaple Town Mayor, and inviting him to say a few words.

Mr Alan Rennles said how impressed he and fellow councillors were with Barnstaple Pilot Gig club for taking the initiative to raise the funds to bring back to life a sadly neglected building, in a manner that would be a credit to Barnstaple and an impressive Water Sports Centre for many years to come.

The topping-out ceremony then took place when one of the founder members of the club, Mr Tim Sloper, placed a weather vane in the shape of a pilot gig boat and crew on the bracket on the gable at the front of the building. The weather vane was commissioned and donated by Tim Sloper in memory of his late wife Chrissie Sloper.

Much work remains to be done to the building, most of it on a voluntary basis by club members. New windows and doors are already on site and will be installed in the very near future. The next big project on the building will be the renewal of the flooring at first floor level, with under-floor heating connected to an air-source heat pump. Further work will require additional funds, so the club fund-raising efforts continue apace; there will be a Christmas Bingo night next Thursday (12th December) at Barnstaple Rugby Club, a Christmas Raffle is underway with a first prize of a holiday for two, there is currently a Crowdfunder appeal in hand for renovation funds, and many more events are planned for next year. For further information and to keep up to date with the building works see

Topping out ceremony

Rowing a half marathon, 29/9/19

A Supervet crew from Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club set themselves a challenge to complete a half-marathon distance (21.098km) last Sunday on rowing machines, at the same time as when the Barnstaple Marathon and Half Marathon took place at Rock Park
Their challenge began as the Barnstaple half marathon runners left the starting line, and continued non-stop until the required distance had been covered. The inclement weather did not deter their effort and they continued through showers of rain blown into the club shelter by the gusting wind, so that all were very wet by the end of the row – not a problem for these rowers since it was just like rowing a gig boat in rough waters.
The finishing times varied from 1 hour 12 minutes to 1 hour 35 minutes, and the rowers were supported by other club members during and after the rowing session. The Town Crier gave encouragement and many spectators there for the running were interested in the effort put in by the rowers. The rowers had each gained sponsors for the event, and all monies raised will go towards the refurbishment costs for the new Water Sports Centre recently purchased on Rolle’s Quay, Barnstaple.

Rowers taking part were David Dixon, John Popham, Graeme Clarke, Alan Pidner, John Nickell and Tony Layton, and all were presented with half marathon medals on completion of the session.




Most of you are aware that we completed the purchase of our club building (the Fuller Building) on 3rd July this year. Since then we have worked steadily on clearing unwanted materials inside and out, removing the derelict shed at the side, modifying plumbing and electrical services to meet our needs, making the perimeter boundary secure and chasing out mortar on the walls ready for re-pointing.

At the same time we have been negotiating with various contractors to begin the renovation works on the building, and I am now happy to report that Advanced Scaffolding have fixed full scaffolding all around the building ready for roof replacement.  This work has been done for the cost of the pavement licence and the debris netting only, and we are extremely grateful to Advanced Scaffolding for the support (both physically and financially!) that they have provided.

GM Asbestos is due on site tomorrow (16th September) to remove the existing roof, after which AD Roofing Services will install felt, battens, slates and rooflights to give us a brand new roof.  In between removing the old roofing and fixing the new roof, the rafters will have to be extended by ourselves and new fascia and soffit boards fitted. The completion date for the new roof is not yet certain, but it should all be complete by 27th September.

In addition West Country Doors will be on site on 21st September to install two new roller shutter doors.  Rob Horrell from Appledore will also be rendering the front elevation and part-rendering the side elevations while the scaffolding is still in place around the building.

As soon as the new roof is in place we need to work on the existing roof trusses before the scaffolding inside the building is taken away.  The scaffolding allows easy access for scrubbing clean and oiling the old wooden trusses, so we should take full advantage of its presence.  Similarly we need to complete the high level re-pointing work on the outside walls before the scaffolding is removed.

Club members have already given many hours of work to this project, and your continued support is much appreciated.  Further group emails will be posted requesting assistance during the week and at weekends, so please keep an eye open for such messages.

Kind regards,


Dragon Boat Racing on the Taw 4 August 2019

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club ran their third Dragon Boat Festival on the Taw on Sunday, with local crews competing against crews from Bude, Exeter and Saunton for some spectacular racing on the Taw.

The course ran from where the River Yeo emerges into the Taw, to adjacent to Queen Anne’s statue on The Strand, and the boats and crews launched from and returned to Castle Quay slipway.  The event was kindly hosted by Queen Anne’s cafe, so Race Control was situated on the lawn on the river side of the cafe. Three boats were in action (Barum Bobby and Phillipa J from the Barum club, and Giggles borrowed from Torridge Gig club), and in the first two races all three took part.  The third race was between the two third-placed crews from the first two races, the fourth race was between the second-placed crews, and the fifth race was between the the first placed crews.  The sixth and final race was between the three best-performing crews to determine the overall champions.

The final race was between Exe-calibre (from Exeter), Pearce Construction and Saunton Sands Surf Lifesaving  club, all determined to win the trophy.  Saunton Sands and Pearce Construction fought a tight race, neck-and-neck for the first half until the discipline of the surf-lifesavers paid off as the Pearce Construction crew lost their timing slightly and slipped back half a boat length to allow Saunton Sands to take the trophy.

Other crew taking part were : BPGC, Bude Pilot Gig Club and the Eastleigh crew.  The ‘Over and Above’ charity provided the PA system and music for the event, and Safety Boat cover was provided by Barnstaple Sea Cadets crew.



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