Manvers Waterfront Boat Club

Manvers initially set out to be a canoe club, but with investment and lots of volunteering support it has transitioned into a thriving multi-sports club and boathouse used by the local and wider community.

Facts and Figures

Type of project: New equipment store and refurbishment of boat house and boat club at lake, providing variety of watersports and running

Type of organisation behind the project: Registered charity: Manvers Lake and Dearne Valley Trust

Uses of facilities: Canoeing, paddle sports, running, triathlon, cycling, swimming, angling

Location: The Boathouse, Station Road, Wath-Upon-Dearne, S63 7DG

Funding: Overall cost: c.£300,000. Sport England contribution/fund: £240,000. Other significant funding: Coalfield Regeneration Trust £25,000; Environment Agency £30,000; club funds £70,000.

Key events and milestones

 Date                         Event
 1990s Lake formed as part of remediation of former colliery
 2007   Lake identified as potential site. Developer S106 obligation to build boat house
 2008 Boat house constructed
 April 2009  Multi-sport club formed – Manvers Waterfront Boat Club
 2011 Manvers Lake and Dearne Valley trust formed
 March 2014 Application to Sport England for new boat store
 April 2015 Sod cutting ceremony to start build
October 2015 Boat store opens


The initial spark for building Manvers came from the Yorkshire region of Canoe England, which had been looking for a venue to develop. Chris Hawkesworth (who leads facility developments for Canoe England) saw an article in the Yorkshire Post newspaper about a former colliery site being redeveloped, with the creation of a lake. He saw an opportunity to create a new model of multi-sport boat club.

It was an opportunity to create a club in the model I wanted to - I’d been frustrated at the way other canoe clubs were doing facilities and thought we could show there was a different way here. It was a coincidence when this came up.

Chris Hawkesworth, Chair of Trustees, Manvers Lake Trust

The desire was to build a resource centre for the region. There was a belief in the potential to develop a multi-sport approach that combined different paddle/watersports, and some taster events, but there had been no specific local market research. There was no other local option for swimming and activities have been added as knowledge of the audience has grown – and the organisation has responded to demand.

In 2014, it successfully bid for funding to create a new boat and equipment store and also made improvements to the boat house (with co-funding from Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Environment Agency). It's now a highly sustainable building, with heat source and solar energy, and has recruited large numbers of volunteers. It also developed partnerships with organisations such as Deane Valley College, which co-funds staff posts.

The club now has an annual membership fee of £60, which allows members to take part in any or all of nine sports on offer – from paddling, open water swimming and triathlon, to angling, cycling and running. This ‘one club’ philosophy means people can find their way into different activities far more easily, with members joining to take part in one activity and going on to try other sports.

Manvers also stage community events, such as the Spooky Paddle, and the lake has high numbers of casual/non-member use. The club makes a surplus of c.£30,000 a year and the Trust has a diverse income basis, with no one stream accounting for more than 20% of revenue.

 Manvers Waterfront's three take-home tips

  • Develop genuine multi-sport club mentality – no silos for different sports
  • Have a very clear idea of what you want to develop to minimise changes, confusion and cost
  • Develop partnerships – with colleges, businesses and communities.

Our Take on the Project

Our Community Asset Fund, which supported Manvers, aims to nurture projects which address the five health, social and economic outcomes set out in the Government’s Sporting Future strategy

We feel that Manvers has performed particularly well in one of these outcomes; Participation – Target Groups. 16.6% of its members are from the top 10% most deprived LSOAs in the country; and 36.6% are from the top 30% most deprived.

In terms of other outcomes, Manvers also does well on the following:

Health and wellbeing: Local people access ‘green-blue’ spaces close to their home: ‘It’s lovely being here on a day like today – I come several times a week.’ [Local resident.]

Personal development: Dearne Valley College partnership means students gain sports facilities, and employment experience; work with disability and probationary services.

Economic development: Several hundred thousand pounds of additional development.