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HURLEY MARINE LTD

The history of Hurley Marine has been summarised in a book published by HOA entitled 'A History of Hurley Marine', by Tim Sharman and Nick Vass. To obtain a copy go to the Merchandise page. In summary:

George Hurley was a carpenter and shipwright. He worked in Plymouth dockyard during the war and then in 1946 set up his own business. Working from a shed in his back yard in Keyham, Plymouth, he started A.G Hurley Ltd (Carpenter and Commercial Vehicle Body Builders), with two employees - Reg Yates and Ernie Miners - and himself and his wife Marion as Directors.

In 1952 the business expanded into new premises in Richmond Walk, Stonehouse. From there in 1958 he began to build the famous Silhouette cruisers and started on the path to become Hurley Marine. In 1964 additional Directors joined the firm, bringing with them extra capital, with which to fund a new purpose-built factory in Valley Road, Plympton. By then fibre glass was well recognised as being the future of boat building and, with Ian Anderson's excellent designs and the Lloyds Series Production Certificates for each class, the business moved into top gear. At its peak Hurley Marine employed some 140 people and Valley Road was turning out vsome 17 fully completed and certificated boats per week.

George Hurley retired at the end of 1967 and the business went forward with a new Board, Chaired by Charles Woodrow. The Company continued until 1974 when it succumbed to the appalling industrial and financial conditions then common in the UK. However, the moulds found new homes and Hurley boats continued to be built by a variety of firms until 1991.


David Reeves

When writing A History of Hurley Marine I spent a lot of time delving into the archive (cardboard boxes) of old business papers, brochures, drawings and notes. There was a lot of material from someone called David Reeves - including notes on early Company history and the development of the Silhouette. I did some internet searches to try and find him but to no avail, so the book had to go ahead without his expert input.

Next, in early 2012, out of the blue, David got in touch, first with Ian Sinclair then with me. The story was that his son-in-law, a sailor, had seen the advertisement for the 'History' in Practical Boart Owner and bought David a copy for Christmas! We arranged to meet and did so in Shaftesbury in June 2012. I was rather anxious in case David was going to prove lots of our conclusions about Hurley to be wrong - but in the event there seems to nothing major!! I then probed him mercilessly for information and even after that grilling, David agreed to be our guest at the 2013 AGM and to give a talk on his experience with Hurley Marine.

David's career began with National Service in the RAF as an engineer in the Air-Sea Rescue Service where he did rather a lot of sea time. However, this combined with early enthusiasm for boats as a boy, clearly gave him a strong liking for boats and the sea. After leaving the RAF he worked for a Plymouth engineering company designing hydraulic systems and grease guns! However, he really wanted to be involved in boats and so in 1968, speculatively, wrote to Hurley Marine asking for a job - which he got! Taken on as a design draughtsman he had to set up the formal drawings organisation himself, including buying a drawing board!

Over the years to 1975 David was involved in many aspects of the firm, especially product design, sales and - his favourite - sailing demonstrations. At the very end he was one of three remaining in the Company - the Company Secretary - Fred Hawkins, the Receiver and himself! They literally turned off the lights, locked the doors and walked away. David's detailed notes which were the basis of this talk to the AGM are available here - they are well worth a read.

The Committee were delighted when David accepted our offer of becoming a Life Member of HOA and we look forward to staying in touch and inevitably inviting him talk about his life some 45 years ago!

Tim Sharman

 

 

 

David helming H27 Sail Number 4 in the early 1970s

 


MR DOCKRELL - A REMINISCENCE

This reminiscence is from Joe Clarke, one of our American members, who has been corresponding with Nick Vass.

Mr. Dockrell was exactly like a miniature Alistair Cooke, the famous British actor. The voice was absolutely the same. Seeing Alistair Cooke hosting some shows on American T V we all immediately said " Mr. Dockrell!". I first met him in 1972 in New Jersey, driving a tractor surrounded by a few Hurleys he had just imported. He had the product (the boats) and knew it, because he knew these little seaworthy boats would sell themselves, even 35 miles away from the water in a New Jersey marsh! He was clearing a piece of land to put in a trailer home park he was building off Route 46 in Parsippanny, New Jersey. He was, I believe in his 70's or early 80's, dressed in English tweeds and a bow tie ( I never saw him any other way). I asked my father why was he in such formal attire with a bow tie, never thinking the question would be posed to Mr. Dockrell by my father. In a very gentle fashion, as he was a very gentle person in my estimation, he turned to me with those kind "never missing a thing blue eyes" and said that he worked in the factories as a young man and always wore the bow tie to avoid the machinery from catching a long tie and having a horrible accident. He never forgot me nor, do I suspect, anyone he came into contact with. Even meeting him a few years later, as he worked the New York boat show, he instantly recalled me and the 24 my father had bought. He always tried to upgrade us to the 27 but I guess it was out of our means.

Joe Clark