Portishead Cruising Club, an Overview
Established in 1932, Portishead Cruising Club is a sailing club for racing/cruising yachts with a clubhouse overlooking the River Avon at (Crockern) Pill, within easy reach of the Bristol Channel. Here and at nearby Chapel Pill the club maintains over 40 trot moorings drying onto a bed of firm mud, accessible via a slipway from the clubhouse. There is a rack for tender storage and access for vehicles. Conveniently located just a few miles away is the new fully serviced marina complex at Portishead, incorporating haulout, storage and boat repair facilites.
The Club is an independent, non-profit making venture run entirely by its members on a voluntary and unpaid basis, running an extensive program of cruising and racing. Races are held throughout the year and during the sailing season “Cruise in Company” trips are organised for most weekends, visiting various destinations in the Bristol Channel, often to participate in other clubs’ rallies and regattas. PCC hosts the annual Holms Race, the club’s flagship open racing event in the Bristol Channel, on behalf of the Bristol Channel Yachting Association which sees upwards of 60 boats compete over a course from Portishead to the Holms (off W-s-M) and back. There is also an extensive social itinerary, with club nights, parties and talks held throughout the year including the odd fun event such as the “River Cruise and Pontoon Party”, in aid of charity.
Above all, PCC members aim to enjoy themselves both on and off the water and the Club has cemented its place in the sailing community by offering a warm welcome to all, whether racer, leisure sailor or blue water cruiser, from its comfortable 1st floor bar and galley, (constructed by members themselves). Atmosphere within the club is friendly and informal, with membership made up of families, couples and individuals. The Club welcomes new members, boat owners and crew alike and social/family participants. The club even has a nominal membership for sailors currently enjoying extended cruising in distant climes (some are currently circumnavigating the globe) for whom PCC remains their “spiritual home”.
Visitors are welcome to come along on any club night, wednesdays from 8.30pm to meet us. There is also a visitors mooring in the Pill. Please sign in the Guest book. Here you can benefit from a wealth of experience of sailing and boat ownership and browse our library of books on all matters nautical. PCC is a member of the Bristol Channel Yachting Association and is a recognised RYA Training Centre.
Established in 1932, PCC was originally located in a building at Portishead Dock which was used as a base for cruises which mostly went “downalong” with the ebb tide. Temporary moorings were found at Crockerne Pill and Sea Mills during the Second World War (1939-1945).
When access to Portishead Dock was permitted again following the war, no rights of way were granted across Parish Wharf which lessened the location’s appeal. When the Dock became virtually redundant fifty years later, development plans were initiated by the owners of the site to include a Marina, but not unlimited access. PCC took legal action over this and although their rights were reaffirmed, there were modifications. In the 1960’s, individual members prevented a proposal to fill in the creek at Pill. This, together with the opening of the M5 Avon Bridge and the subsequent cessation of the ferry service between Pill and Shirehampton in 1974, saw the Club purchase the ferry company building some 30 years ago.
Planning permission was granted to extend the building but was not acted upon at the time. Before this permission expired, it was agreed that since the old flat roof needed replacing the consent could be put to good use. The National Rivers Authority compensated the Club for utilising the premises as part of their Sea Defence Scheme in Pill. These additional funds together with enormous efforts from Club members saw the erection of the two storey Club house currently used today.
The village was originally known as Crockham Pill on account of the nearby crockery kiln at Ham Green. However, over the years the title of Crockerne Pill has come to refer to the creek itself.
The word “Pill” is Ancient Briton for creek or inlet and refers to the extensive moorings that have been available since the 17th century. The Watchhouse is an imposing grey slated customs house which dates back to over 200 years and which historians believe may have had links with smuggling. Adam and Eve, a whitewashed building set on the rocks, is of dubious origin but may have been used to temporarily house slaves or used as an entrance to a smuggler’s tunnel. Today it serves a useful purpose as a housing for a navigational light.
Hung Road derives its name from the fact that ships were hung by their ropes to prevent them topppling over when the tide ebbed. Chapel Pill is the home of many PCC boats today, following a long period lying unused.
Horseshoe Bend, familiar to many of our yachtsmen, given the considerable currents prevailing in the Bristol Channel was the site of the demise of one of Brunel’s ships, namely the SS Demerara, which ran aground there and was subsequently scrapped.
Thus Pill has a considerable martime history and tradition which continue to this day and the Club is proud of its association with the local community.
Facilities: The village has several shops including a Post Office, convenience store with free cashpoint machine, pharmacy and hair salon. It’s home to 4 pubs, several take-aways and 5 places of worship.