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Farewell float for clubhouse

PUBLISHED: 10:36 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:56 25 August 2010

UNIQUE: Members, old and new, say goodbye to their trusty clubhouse.

UNIQUE: Members, old and new, say goodbye to their trusty clubhouse.

FOND farewells marked the end of an era for yacht club members as their unique floating clubhouse, a converted Norwegian car ferry, began its long journey home.

FOND farewells marked the end of an era for yacht club members as their unique floating clubhouse, a converted Norwegian car ferry, began its long journey home.

Erith Yacht Club has vacated the Folgefonn, a 1930's ferry believed to be one of the first roll-on roll-off boats designed to ease travel between the Norwegian Fjords, since 1981.

Now, as construction of a new multi-million pound clubhouse nears completion, the 74-year-old boat will return to its home-country to be exhibited in the Hardanger Fartøyvernsenter, a national centre for boat preservation.

"She has done us proud so it is a little sad to see her go," said Sara Taylor, Club secretary. "It is nice to think she will be restored to her former glory and people can go on enjoying her,"

The ferry was tugged from the yacht club at Anchor Bay downstream to Northfleet where it was loaded onto a huge trawler to cross the North Sea last Friday.

"She is certainly unique but there have been problems as part of the character of the ship is to have these narrow steep stairways which are not ideal for some of our older members," said Mrs Taylor.

The new clubhouse has been funded through two large government grants linked to promoting sport alongside the 2012 Olympics, with £2.3 million Sustainable Communities Olympic Legacy funding and 800,000 from Sport England.

"We have been extremely fortunate," said Mrs Taylor. "The Olympic legacy money was one of the first of its kind,"

The clubhouse, which is being constructed on seven-metre high stilts to avoid flooding, includes a large open deck offering views of the river as well as a function room and bar which will be available for hire.

"It is an exciting time for the club," said Mrs Taylor.

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