The debate about the lake was revived in 2001 when Councillor David Shopland began to push for work and improvements for the lake. Problems continued to be left unsolved though, and it was not until 2003 that work started on a project to clean the lake and refurbish the promenade around it. The mud on the lake floor had built up to such an extent that a digger, used to remove the sludge, sank up to the cab. Rubble and debris was also removed. Repairs were made, but these were purely to prevent further deterioration and the lake continued to leak.
It was at this point that Arthur Knott began to take an interest. As the Clevedon Sailing Club’s Cadet Officer he knew that the lake was invaluable as a teaching resource for young club members. It meant that in enclosed waters techniques could be learned safely, without the ferocious rip of the currents in the Bristol Channel. Windsurfers also used the lake, as did canoe and rowing enthusiasts.
In December 2003 the gloom was lifted at a public meeting in Clevedon Community Centre “Vision for Marine Lake”. The Sailing Club Cadet Section contributed a stall with one of the original Minnows as the centrepiece. On its deck Arthur Knott’s “THE NEW VISION” - promoted by “The Marine Lake Enthusiasts Society” - was displayed and the first members of MARLENS were recruited by the cadets.
The initial response from both Town and District councillors was very negative, but this began to change slowly as the community showed their support for the lake. A cummunity survey run by Marlens revealed that nearly everyone approached had fond memories of the lake and would like to see it restored.
After a long campaign of public meetings and angry confrontations with the Town Council the “Marine Lake Design Competition” sponsored by MARLENS and the Clevedon Mercury was launched. The winning designs, showed a second slipway to allow smooth progression for youngsters from the lake to the sea, a boatstore, a field study centre on stilts with a refreshment patio right on the sea below Poets’ Walk.
A detailed report on the lake was commissioned by North Somerset Council from Mott MacDonald. On 28th January the commissioned report from Mott-MacDonald was released suggesting a positive three-phase revival programme for the lake.
In May and June 2005, the Sailing Club - in partnership with MARLENS - offered “Have a go at Sailing” sessions to primary school children in Clevedon, Yatton, Nailsea and Backwell. The popularity of these sessions generated huge public interest. Clevedon Model Boat Club revived model-boating on the lake led by lake enthusiast Mike Mayhew the technical whizz-kid who built the models and kept water in the lake by his personal efforts with an ancient “Sawdust & Ashes System”! Mike is now retained by North Somerset Council as their trouble-shooter at the lake. Regular formal discussion between North Somerset, MARLENS and Clevedon Sailing Club began on 30th June with long term “Seafront Re-generation” on the agenda.
In 2005 Marlens held the first MARLENS festival, supported by North Somerset and Clevedon Town Council. The festival has continued annually since and was rebranded the more inclusive Clevedon Tides Festival in September 2014.
After Arthur’s death in 2007, Joe Norman took over running Marlens, and has continued ever since with great zest and, suiting the society’s name, his predecessor’s valuable qualities, enthusiasm.
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