|Deacons Boatyard was founded 1922 by Francis Deacon , who bought a strip of marshland below the railway station and took an outboard motor for repair. There was one tiny shed, about the size of a watchman's hut and Mr Deacon and his wife lived on an ex-services Motor launch. The business grew steadily and more men were employed. |
In the years between the first and second world war, the yard undertook the conversion of the Paddleship 'Lymington' to a luxury Houseboat. A few Itchen Ferry type cutters were built and many new engines were supplied and installed. A successful yacht agency was established.
All this came to an end in 1939 when the Second World War caused the immobilisation of all yachts. During the interval before admiralty contracts came in, Mr Deacon managed to keep his staff together with other types of enterprises including one of making ploughshares. Afterwards contracts to repair Admiralty navy pinnaces and landing craft, which operated from the Hamble River, provided much needed work. During this time the largest boatshed was destroyed by bombing, including the craft in it and also from gunfire from an enemy aeroplane, which came in very low and sprayed the yard as it flew over.
In the post war years, yachting became ever more popular although supplies of materials were very restricted. Francis Deacon died in 1950. For eleven years, Mrs A.M Deacon (known as Ma Deacon) carried on the business with the help of Bill Richards, the yard foreman. In 1962 Roger Fuller approached Mrs Deacon, with the object of purchasing the yard. However there was competition for the yard and Mrs Lavinia Sheridan, whose husband was a descendant of the poet Sheridan, bought the yard, put up sheds and started building yachts. In 1964 she ran into financial difficulties and The Fuller Group again approached her to sell the yard.
At the time of sale the yachts being built were two Parker design motor sailers, about 42' and one Kim Holman design 32' sailing yacht which was being built for Sir Eric Drake, then chairman of BP. She still used Deacon's old barge in the river as an office. More information is available in the book 'Hamble River', written by Suzannah Richie, who worked for many years in Deacons Boatyard.
Around 1967, Deacons were offered the adjoining boatyard of Primmer and Snook who had what was probably the best building on the site. Primmer and Snook had been building a range of small wooden boats and the yard had its own slipway which is now filled in. It had the advantage of being immediately adjoining the A27, now the site of Aladdins Cave chandlery.
Towards the end of the 1960s Deacons commissioned Sparkman and Stevens, the American naval architects to design a centreboard yacht, which was called Deb 33, a very useful shallow draft cruiser sleeping four people. About fifty of the yachts were sold.
At the same time, the yard took on the building of the Galion 22 designed by Ian Hannay with the Galion 28 but the one that sold well was the 22.
In 1972 Deacons took over Anstey Yachts in Poole, who were producing yachts designed by C&C Canada. A production unit was set up in Poole to produce Trapper yachts and production continued until 1987.
The yard is still in operation. (2008)
Deacons Boatyard Ltd
Southampton, Hants SO31 8AZ, England
Tel: (02380) 402253
Fax: (02380) 405665