1995 – Building Broomhouse

The money from the house that was sold (at the end of the eighties) had been invested and finally was going to be used to rescue the Club from extinction. The idea was that not only would the pontoon attract new members but it would also provide a new income. That was later proven to be absolutely right.

Having made the decision was, however, only the beginning of a long slog. Now the hard work really started again. To get permission to build it, never mind actually getting it built, was not just a question of a couple of decisions or filling of forms, it was a very hard and time-consuming task which took a lot of energy and tenacity. A number of authorities had to be dealt with, not least the PLA and Hammersmith Council. It was the team of Roger Francis, Bill Barber and Doug Francis who turned HYC round.

It was to some extent Roger’s dogged and determined approach that assured that Broomhouse was going to be built.

At this time there was also, an influential and much loved member of HYC by name of Bill Barber. Bill, an unpretentious gentleman, had joined at the end of the 80s, shortly after he had retired at age 60. He played a major role in the reversal of the Club’s fortunes and attitudes. Bill was a sensitive and highly educated man, an aeronautical engineer by trade, having served an apprenticeship at Vickers Armstrong.  His engineering skills were required at home and so he was not called up in to the army or navy when World War II broke out. He took part in the design of aircraft and in later years was also involved with the development of hovercraft. Eventually he became a member of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), which was set up by Harold Wilson and his government to promote inventors and others who the country needed to help it make progress in medicine and other fields.

His main non-work motivation came from his love of and enthusiasm for The Thames and all it stood for. He was a very effective negotiator and facilitator, an excellent committee-man and team worker. Bill had his finger in many pies and became a leading figure in the River Thames Society. He was Chairman of the Central Tideway Branch. His main concern was to increase access for everyone to The Thames, a difficult subject requiring endless diplomacy dealing with different authorities and developers. That work continues today.

Bill Barber was devoted to the Club, which was potentially a crucial vehicle for increasing access to The Thames and thus could indeed play an important role in the local community. He set standards of behaviour and integrity to aspire to. The workboat, which the Club bought in 2006, is named in his honour, The Bill Barber.

Bill, Doug and Roger made an excellent team, especially dealing with the authorities over the building of the Broomhouse Pontoon.

Picture of Bill Barber I have emailed you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Doug Francis became commodore in 1995. It was under his stewardship that all the red tape for the planning of Broomhouse was seen through and the pontoon was actually finally built.  Thus the Club was rescued from the edge of disaster. Slowly it was on its way again to becoming once more a viable proposition at the turn of the century.

So it was the sometimes confrontational, dogged and stubborn Roger, the hard working, sometimes autocratic and generally ferociously tenacious Doug with the support of the ‘eminence grise’ Bill Barber, the wise and gentle, highly respected facilitator and diplomat, working more or less as a team, who saved the Club. Great combination of qualities and skills, great teamwork, in the well established HYC tradition!

Doug can take a lot of the credit for getting Broomhouse pontoon built, a major development and part of the revitalisation of the Club. Additionally Doug found ways of maximizing the Club’s income.