Hurley Yachts come home

If you have spent much time on or around the water you will be familiar with the name ‘Hurley’; indeed many people are likely to recognise the classic Hurley designs as familiar objects, as they are so ubiquitous around the coasts of Britain.

From Friday 22ndto Sunday 24th July, King Point Marina in Plymouth’s fast-regenerating Coastal Quarter plays host to a gathering of 40 or more Hurleys, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the vessels.

The ‘Bring Your Hurley Home’ event, organised by the Hurley Owners Association, will see a social event at the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club on the Saturday, together with a fleet sail-past at about 11-1230 from King Point around the Hoe Waterfront, witnessed from the RPYC balcony by as many former Hurley employees as can be found!

On the Sunday 24th at 11am, a heritage ‘Blue Plaque’ to George Hurley will be unveiled by his family in Richmond walk near the former ‘Hurley Marine’ yard.

Hurleys were built in Plymouth at Richmond Walk, Millbay and Valley Road Plympton; George Hurley gave his name to the firm and the yachts, but another major designer in the Company was Ian Anderson.

George Hurley was a carpenter and shipwright. He worked in Plymouth dockyard during the war and then in 1946 set up his own business. Initially he worked on vehicle bodies from a shed in his back yard in Keyham.

In 1952 he expanded to Richmond Walk and in 1958 he commenced building his ‘Silhouette’ yacht design, later becoming Hurley marine.

The technology of plywood and waterproof glues was directly taken from the building methods of the famous ‘Mosquito’ aircraft and small boats of World War Two.

In 1958, with fibre glass becoming the new mass-medium for boat building another expansion to Valley Road, Plympton, saw Ian Andersons designs being produced – and employing 140staff making up to 17 boats per week.

George retired in 1967, and a poor national economy saw the firm close in 1974 – though the moulds and production lived on with other firms until around 1991. More than 8000 Hurley boats were built during the life of the firm.

Perhaps the iconic Hurley designs are the ‘18’ and the ‘22’.

Over 1200 ‘22’s were built from the first design in 1964 until 1990, with production by Hurley Marine and several other builders after the moulds were sold in the mid 70’s.The Hurley 22 is a long-established family cruising yacht with four berths, with fin or bilge keels, and (generally) an outboard motor. Well built and with classic lines, she was raced and cruised widely.

The Royal Navy bought at least 30 H22’s in the 1970’s and used them for training until they were auctioned off in the 90’s.

Other design names are fondly remembered, such as the Silhouette, Alacrity, Signet and Felicity, from little 17 footers to the largest 38 Tailwind.

The Half-Century Commemoration is generously supported by Muse Developments and the English Cities Fund, which leads the Millbay Regeneration – a far cry from the post-war industrial area which saw the start of the Hurley story!

The HOA chose to use King Point Marina for the Bring Your Hurley Home event, which is being supported by marina owners and operators Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc. The stunning, contemporary marina opened in the heart of Plymouth’s newly revitalised Coastal Quarter in Millbay in 2013 to provide berthing for 171 vessels. 

Mark Brimacombe, Marina Manager, said: “The Hurley line is a classic line which has more than stood the test of time, with these sailboats remaining hugely popular today as a true testament to the quality of the design and build first carried out in Plymouth.  

“We’re delighted to be supporting Bring Your Hurley Home which is going to be a fantastic celebration of the Hurley line’s strong heritage in Britain’s Ocean City, and as Plymouth’s newest marina, King Point Marina is proud to be welcoming Hurley owners into the city for the rally this July.” 

For more information about the event, visitwww.hurleyownersassociation.co.uk 

This fascinating Yachting & Boating World article has more information - http://content.yudu.com/A201so/HStory/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2F