The Walton Sailing Club was started in 1908 for local sailors who used the Backwaters for recreation and racing and the first general meeting of the Walton-on-the-Naze Yacht Club was held two years later at the Albion Hotel in the town. Col Davies was Commodore and J.W.Eagle Vice-Commodore. For the next ten years local names such as Brooke (ironmonger & hardware), De Lisle (chemist), Mills (grocer), Oxley (builder), Eagle (farmer), Brockwell (doctor) and Barker (hotelier), were among the growing membership. Meetings were held in the Town Hall. Cruising was to nearby sailing centres such as Pin Mill on the River Orwell and Harwich and racing in the Backwaters mainly centred on boats between 17 and 30feet long. The start point was between the mills the watermill on Hall’s Quay and the windmill on the site of the present clubhouse. The first one-design dinghy was the 12ft 6in GEM taken over from the Blackwater Sailing Club in 1911.
The present Foundry Hard was built to enable members to get to their boats at low tide by going across the fields owned by the Eagle family. During the First World War, activity reduced but two years after war ended land was bought, a company formed and a club house built using money raised by members, under the instigation of J.W. Eagle, who became the first Commodore. With increased Frinton influence, the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club was built on the site of the old windmill on part of the land acquired by members who formed the Walton & Frinton Yacht Trust. The original directors were Brooke, Eagle, Allen, Brackett and DeLisle. Over the years the Trust developed the yacht basin and provided moorings behind the club. The clubhouse included accommodation and a resident steward has been employed since then. Racing continued with close contact with other East Coast clubs and an 18 ft one- design class was introduced in 1921, built by Brooke and Halls.
The 1930s saw a reduced activity and during the Second World War the club struggled on. But after the war, the club saw a boom in membership and sailing. A new one-design was adopted the 14ft Jewel class, built by James and Stone of Brightlingsea, after Robbie Stone’s design in 1936. The prototype, Omori, J0, is now owned by club members. Most of the 99 Jewels built took to the water between 1946 and the mid 1950s & the club ordered a batch of 40, with others going to Wales and the Thames estuary.
The 1990s saw the return of some of the Jewels and today there are 13 either racing again or under refurbishment. In the 1950s, dinghy racing changed with the advent of lighter, faster dinghies, which could be stored ashore. The club adopted the Fleetwind class, many built by F.Halls & Son, and for a few years the National Fleetwind Championships were held in the Backwaters. Emphasis changed in the 1960s to offshore cruising and racing when the club adopted the 22ft Kestrel and dinghy racing returned with the still very popular red-sailed Mirrors. With the increasing membership in the 1970s, the clubhouse underwent a major reorganisation, including building the steward’s bungalow. This was funded by loans from members, plus help from the brewery and Sports Council.
For almost a century the club has been responsible for the buoys in the Walton Channel; this started when the barge owners sailed into the Channel to Walton Mill. To this day the club retains full responsibility for both laying and maintaining all the navigation buoys of the main channel inside Pye End; a facility enjoyed by all local users and visitors to the Backwaters. The cost to the club runs into several thousands of pounds each year, which is found by a mixture of donations, sponsorship and club funds. While the club is proud of its history and establishment as, what members like to call, the friendliest club on the East Coast, the club is continually adapting to the needs of the modern sailing fraternity. A lot of money is spent to update and improve facilities for members both inside and outside the clubhouse. One of the latest projects is a two-storey boat store behind the current locker shed.