The Society was set up in 1972, which was referenced in the 1980 programme, to try to preserve what was left of the once large fleet of sailing smacks from the River Colne. From this small beginning the future of the smacks is now assured with the fleet that is sailing increasing every year as more smacks are being restored and rebuilt.
Mac Mcgregor, Peter Allen, David Gowing & Dick Harman signed the lease from the council in 1972 ensuring the smackdock would be used. To help this, the Society has the Aldous Heritage Smack Dock in Brightlingsea on the site of the old Aldous yard. Aldous were one of the most prolific smack builders of the 19th and 20th centuries and this dock has helped save 18 smacks so far, and provides secure berths and facilities for working on the smacks.
To help promote an interest in sailing the smacks, the annual Colne Match was started and this has turned into one of the largest race for smacks and ex-fishing vessels in the country where over 20 Smacks and Barges make an incredible sight for all to see.