Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

a little piece of local history........

I live not far from a road in Plymouth , along which are many car show rooms, industrial units and even a play park. I was thus very surprised to learn that it was once home to a famous boat building brand.

On 22nd - 24th July this year, Plymouth is inviting Hurley boat owners from all over the world, to bring their beloved boats down to Plymouth for a '50th year anniversary celebration homecoming' sail past Plymouth Hoe and so far 40 boats have signed up.

Now I don't know much about Hurley's and I know only one or two Hurley owners. They talk with much affection about their boats and I learned that over 8000 Hurley's of various forms were built during the golden era which seems to have run during the 60's and 70's.

It would seem that Hurley boats started in Plymouth. George Hurley born in 1910, the son of a Newfoundland master mariner and cornish mother, and formerly of Charlestown; who came to work as a carpenter and joiner come dilutee shipwright in the famous Devonport dockyards. Leaving the yard after the war had ended to set himself up as a self employed chippy and commercial vehicle body builder, he employed two others Ernie Miners and Reg Yates. As a company they set about building caravan bodies and other vehicle bodies and the business expanded and they moved premises. During the 1950's, Ernie sought permission to build a redwing dinghy for himself in one small corner of the factory and this led to him and George starting to build Silhouettes - a plywood cabin cruiser, so I believe.

Business continued to expand with workshops being opened in the Old Grand Theatre on Union Street and Eagle works on the Cattedown, where they began to start manufacturing in glass fibre. By this time the team had been joined by naval architect Ian Anderson, who drew up plans for the successor to the Silhouette - Felicity - followed by Hurley's 18 and 22.

Which led to the building of a new £100,000 factory on the above mentioned road at the start of this piece - which is not more than a stone's throw from where I live! This new factory employed 170 people producing 17 Lloyds certified boats per week during the late 60's and early 70's.  Sadly, the receivers were called in in the mid 70's but the Hurley name continued as the moulds were sold and distributed to various businesses around the world.

And so we have reached the 50th anniversary of the Hurley's....and 40 have signed up so far. If you are a Hurley owner, do please come and show it off to us all in Plymouth in July. There will be a Saturday sail parade past the Hoe and I and Arwen certainly intend being there to welcome you all, in spirit, since I doubt we will be able to get near you and who would want us party pooping the parade anyway.

I was really intrigued to learn about this local bit of history. My thanks to our local historian Chris Robinson who wrote such a great piece in our local evening paper.

And on the note of thanks, I owe my brother and sister in law thanks - they managed to find me a bit of scrap leather to re-leather Arwen's mast where the yard continually hits it. There was enough left over to wrap around where it enters the mast box - so stopping any more grooving of the mast in that area; and just enough to leather over the rear cockpit coaming where the aft mainsheet block keeps dropping onto the edge of the coaming chipping it away. And surprisingly, I still have some left too - so it was a very generous scrap piece!

And final thanks to Alastair, who came up with a simple solution to my voyaging summer problem. Leave the boat on the sand at Exmouth, anchored, or moor it in Torquay marina and then catch the train back down to Falmouth to retrieve the car and trailer......a simple solution, which numpty here, hadn't even remotely thought of! Alastair and other DCA members will be meeting on a local river this weekend. Sadly, due to work commitments I wont be able to join them but I hope they have a great two days sailing and that the weather isn't too wet and blowy. Perhaps I might be able to get up to Beale Park during half term and I can catch up with DCA members there.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

I'm a Hurley owner.. :o) My old lady dates from '67..

steve said...

Where you sailing her steve?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Chichester ( not going to the Plymouth shindig, but one of my mates is sailing his 20 from Poole...

steve said...

I am looking forward to seeing them all