1961 - 1967

By Trevor Bennett

Early in 1961 I managed to get my father, Arthur Bennett, interested in boating. It was in the early days of fibre glass and there were not many yachts on the market in this material. I had always liked the design of the " Folk Boats " which were fairly new on the scene and mainly imported from Scandinavia but there were none in fibre glass.

We decided to form a company " The Newhaven Yacht Company " which would operate from a new building in the yard of the family building firm, Oxley & Bennett. The next thing was to get the yacht we wanted designed and that is where the yacht designer Van de Stadt came in. The design was eventually approved and we commissioned the " TylerBoat Company " in Tonbridge to make the moulds and produce the hulls which were to be completed at our yard. It was originally envisaged that Dick Stovell an employee of ours in the building firm, of great skill and experience in all matters boating, would be in charge of production. It came as a shattering blow to us when it was confirmed that he was terminally ill and regrettably died soon after. This left us with the dilemma as to who would run the Yacht Company. Eventually it came down to my father and I and a great guy named Leslie Callf with whom the day to day running of the work was left. In 1961 the first yacht was completed and named " Invictus ", the type name chosen being The Invicta Class. It was necessary to put this craft on a specially built trailer and this was towed by the Harbour Maintenance department's tractor, driven by Bob Martin, the harbour engineer, from our yard, along Railway Road to the Quay where it was launched by one of the harbour cranes. We kept this boat as our demonstration boat and it was also exhibited at the 1962 Boat Show at Earls Court. We eventually went on to produce over 30 boats and licenced a boat builder on the East Coast to build in addition.

The company eventually ceased trading in 1967 when the then Labour Government put the VAT up to 25% thus killing the pleasure boat industry at a stroke.

This page was added by Trevor Bennett on 12/02/2009.
Comments about this page

I was made redundant from Main Marine because of the VAT and I remember the year as 1975. I think in 1967 VAT had not been invented!

By Michael Stewart-Young
On 08/04/2011

You are quite correct. VAT was introduced on 1st April 1973. It must have been in 1975 we ceased trading. Old age has crept up on my memory I think. Just as an afterthought when having lunch at a small port in Brittany near my home I was delighted to see one of our original boats, now owned by a Frenchman.

By Trevor Bennett
On 30/10/2011

Hi Trevor, I left the employment of Oxley And Bennett in the latter part of 1971 and at that time the building that was errected for the boat construction was being used by the building section. Myself and John "Taffy" Wells, were using part of it as a plumbers workshop and store. Taffy, left the firm before I did. Work on the boats had ceased a while before then. I can remember installing the plumbing and heating in you new buildings at Lewes around the mid 60's, and fixing the clock back on the wall. As for memories getting "cloudy", things of yesteryears are no problem but recent events very much are.

By Colin Brandon
On 31/10/2011

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