Can an 11th hour intervention by Cambs Times save an outdoor picnic area for waterman’s club? We’ll find out soon enough

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

An 11th hour bid to allow boating enthusiasts to keep an outdoor decking area for club members and visitors is under way after intervention by the Cambs Times.

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Committee member John Ventham. Picture: Steve Williams

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Committee member John Ventham. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

The Watermen’s Club in March was about to demolish the outdoor decking area by the Old Nene on the orders of Middle Level Commissioners but it could now be saved.

Iain Smith, chief executive of the Middle Level, responded to an invitation for the mayor, Councillor Rob Skoulding to hold talks with the commissioners’ engineer to see if the outdoor platform can be saved.

Cllr Skoulding, whose family lease the area to the waterman’s club on a peppercorn rent, said: “The decking looks brilliant and ought to be a great asset to the river.”

Mr Smith explained that temporary permission only was given for the structure to enable the club to host a May bank holiday get together. Clubs from as far away as Northampton were among guests for the gathering.

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


“It was only ever intended to be temporary- they came to us late in the day to ask for it to be put it and we told them it needed to come down afterwards,” he said.

He said the club had not asked for it to be a permanent fixture by the river but if they did come forward with an application “it will be considered on its merits”,

Most Read

He said: “I would be quite happy for the mayor to meet with my engineer to talk about it.”

Middle Level has a bye law which controls all activity within 20 metres of the river and Mr Smith said it was a criminal offence if this was breached.

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Middle Level Watermans club. West End, March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Club member John Ventham has recently bought a small boat and was this morning relaxing on the decking area.

However he was expecting to reluctantly help to dismantle it later even though he admitted half the club wanted to stay and fight to retain it.

“We have decided not to appeal because we don’t want to upset the Middle Level Commissioners,” he said.

He said several thousands of pounds of labour and materials had been used to build it – including putting in a ramp to allow disabled users to get a closer view of the river.

“We had it mind to build it semi permanent with the hope we could keep it,” said Mr Ventham.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter