The Isle of Wight Surf club were very lucky to be given use of one of the huts owned by the National Trust at Compton. The club paid a donation every year to the NT which gave them use of the hut and free parking at Compton.
The original hut was used to store surfboards and even had a sink with running water and was used for sleeping in for those dawn sessions or when the club had parties at the beach. Each year the car park would erode a little bit more and each year the National Trust would hammer in new wooden posts along the cliff edge with a lovely wooden rail. This was lovely to sit on at the end of a surf and watch the swell but some would say that each time the cliff fell away it was always to the line of wooden posts.
Over the years as the cliff slowly eroded eventually the hut ended up hanging over the edge of the cliff. Club members had over the years looked after the hut, mending and repairing tattered panels and the roof and even put sleepers under the end of the hut that was overhanging the cliff. The Gallery above shows Roger Butler, Graham Skelley, Steve Williams, Clive Richardson, Rex Haines, Keith Williams, Dave Phillips, Dave Downer and others trying to secure the end of the hut before it was too late.
But in time it came for drastic action. One of the huts was cut in half as one half had succumbed to erosion and I believe Steve and Keith Williams once owned the hut behind the Surf Club hut and when the club hut had gone they gave their hut to the club.
Sid Pitman had a friend at Cheek bros. and persuaded him to bring a crane out to Compton and they set about lifting the hut and moving it back to a safer place.
Some people might remember the garffiti on the walls of the hut
‘Fear is the key speed is the essence…’
‘Our father who art in Porthleven, hollow be thy waves..’
by ‘John Ferrari, he used to drive a Mini Traveller and rode a Cooper stinger, came from out Sandown way, the story was that he went up to Scotland one winter, I think around ’78 ish got frostbite and had to have all his toes amputated…’
By the mid 1980’s it definitely had a very unique smell of sex wax, old damp wetsuits and god knows what. Some say if you could bottle that smell you could probably stop all war on earth as we know it. But when those cold north easterlies blew during January and February it was a welcome place to get changed.
Roger Butler photographed the day and below you can see a great set of images of how the club moved their precious hut away from the cliff edge.
By the end of the summer of 1987 the Isle of Wight Surf Club had managed to raise enough money to have a brand new hut built at Compton. Some of you may remember the big storm of October 1987.
Extract from Keith Williams on the new hut;
As it was being installed on site, I said to the supplier, ‘It gets pretty windy here, how are you going to secure it to stop it blowing away?’ He replied rather off handedly that he wasn’t going to do anything about it.
The installation wasn’t complete in one day & he said he would come back the following weekend & finish off. Some of you may remember the Great Storm in Oct 87, mayhem all along the south coast, but one item that never made the news was the fact that the Isle of Wight Surf Club’s new hut had blown clean away & been smashed into a thousand pieces spread all along the Military Road!
There was quite an argument that followed. We refused to pay as we’d not received the goods & the supplier tried to take us to court, but legal opinion was in our favour as the keys to the building had not been handed over & therefore ownership had not passed from the supplier to the Surf Club. A new hut was ordered & constructed & eventually erected on site. By this time though, the club had gone into a bit of a decline, no-one wanted to leave an expensive board in the hut, & many surfers had acquired vans by this time, so few people used the hut for changing. Eventually the hut disappeared, but I had lost connection with the club by this time & I don’t know the reasons why or where it went.
A new hut was eventually erected at Compton but was sadly was vandalised and eventually The Isle of Wight Surf Club no longer had a hut at Compton.