FAIREY AVIATION WAS FOUNDED IN 1915 BY CHARLES RICHARD FAIREY AND ERNEST OSCAR TIPS. Based in Hayes in Middlesex, the company produced huge numbers of aircraft which made significant contributions to the Allied victories in both World Wars, including the Fairey Campania (a patrol seaplane which first flew in February 1917) the Firefly, Fulmar, Albacore and Swordfish.
Demand for these planes inevitably plummeted immediately after the Second World War and so Fairey Aviation directors – Richard Fairey, Charles Chichester-Smith and Alan Vines – decided to form a new company, Fairey Marine, to build boats at its Hamble factory using techniques which had been developed in the construction of some of the company’s aircraft. Soon afterwards, Lt Cdr Charles Currey – who would win a silver medal in the Finn class at the 1952 Olympic Games – joined the company.
USING A REVOLUTIONARY HOT-MOULDED VACUUM PROCESS specifically developed for the production of aircraft components, Fairey built a highly successful range of sailing dinghies mostly designed by the legendary Uffa Fox. Several of these were given the same names as aircraft which had been produced by the parent company including the Firefly which became Britain’s first nationally-established one-design class. For many years Fairey Marine was the world’s single largest boat manufacturer outside the United States, selling up to 1,000 boats a year.
The hot-moulding process consisted of laying several layers of Agba veneer – the number of veneers was dictated by the type and size of vessel – in different orientations over a mould, with adhesive between each layer and staples securing them to the mould. The mould and veneers were then covered with a large rubber bag, placed under a vacuum and rolled into a hot oven autoclave where the adhesive would cure, creating an extremely stiff hull shell.
IN 1957, in response to a demand for fast motor boats, Fairey Marine took the tentative but bold decision to develop a Ray Hunt designed ‘deep V’ hull design. A young Naval Architect called Alan Burnard was employed to evolve the design into what became the Huntress (a single engined fast motor cruiser) he then went on to design the larger Huntsman 28 (a twin inboard engine fast cruiser) and all further models of the Fairey motor boats.
IN 1960, Peter Twiss – a former Fairey Aviation test pilot and world air speed record holder at 1,132mph – joined Fairey Marine to help develop the market and race the new breed of motorboats.
All the motorboats in the Fairey range had hull designs which gave outstanding sea-keeping capabilities, superb performance and easy handling. Although primarily designed as fast family motor cruisers, between 1961 and 1973 Fairey boats won no fewer than 202 awards – and 54 in 1969 alone – for their success in various prestigious endurance races such as the Cowes-Torquay, Round Britain and London to Monte Carlo. The Huntsman 28 proved to be the most successful with no fewer than 22 different boats taking part in these demanding races.
TODAY, THE FAIREY MARINE BLOODLINE HAS BEEN RESURRECTED with a view to reproducing these prestigious vessels with meticulous attention to detail. The new range will capture the elegant lines, retain the keen performance and style, and will be finished to exacting standards. They will be built to rekindle the romance and the desire to own one of these iconic boats. James Bond :: History
All images are courtesy of Mr. Charles Lawrence, Mr. Peter Twiss, Mr. Geoffrey Campbell, The Fairey Owners Club, the Ford Motor Company and Beken of Cowes.