Nautical celebrations mark re launch of Ashlone Wharf

Putney Embankment was the scene of celebrations on Sunday with the return of the Wandsworth Youth River Club to their home at Ashlone Wharf. The youngsters are returning to a massively improved riverside home after the council invested £400,000 in refurbishing the former corporation depot that has been their base for 25 years.

As well as providing a home for the WYRC, Ashlone Wharf provides a base for the 4th Streatham Sea Scouts and the internationally-known Chas Newens boatyard, which plays a prominent role in the annual university boat race.

Sunday's celebrations saw the building officially reopened by the Mayor of Wandsworth Cllr Leslie McDonnell in a ceremony attended by the leader of the council Edward Lister, local councillors and representatives from the Royal Navy and the Port of London Authority.

  Following the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon to reopen Ashlone Wharf, the Mayor then launched three new boats belonging to the WYRC by naming them in traditional maritime style with a bottle of champagne.

Members of the WYRC then took to their new boats to perform a series of nautical manoeuvres on the Thames as part of the celebrations.

The building has undergone major structural works to improve health and safety and also benefited from a complete internal refit which has provided new toilets as well as increasing the amount of interior space for the building's users. Extensive repairs were also carried out to remedy defects in Ashlone Wharf's drainage system.

External improvements were carried out to repair and clean brickwork, while new velux windows and improved insulation have been provided in the roof slopes along with a new slate covering for all roof areas. New boat access points have also been introduced leading onto the embankment and to the side of the building which fronts the adjacent weir.

Council leader Edward Lister said: "I am delighted that the building works have gone exceptionally well and that Ashlone Wharf is now in a much better state than it was just over a year ago.

"The exterior of the building has been smartened up considerably while it's difficult to appreciate from the outside the sheer scale of the changes that have gone on inside. Each of the three groups who call Ashlone Wharf their home now have much bigger and brighter accommodation for all their activities."

Harry Waddingham, chairman of the WYRC, added: "As a result of the council's efforts, we now have an outstanding building of which both the council and the club can be proud. "We are keen to see it utilised to the full for youth organisations across the borough and to this end welcome approaches from youth leaders who would like to offer boat training and activities on the Thames from a unique base."

17th April 2003