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At one time in the history of the Great Ouse Appleyard & Lincoln was a name that was on everyone’s lips. Read something of the history of the firm, below, or read about the reunion of ex-employees and boat owners.

Appleyard’s Boathouse, built in 1877 at Ely in Cambridgeshire, was taken over in 1946 by Harry Lincoln and became Appleyard Lincoln & Co (Boatbuilders) Ltd.  During the next sixteen years they built over a thousand wooden boats of which Orchard Delight was one of the last.

appleyard & lincoln flag

Early on he hired boats from the quay outside his boathouse; rowing skiffs and canoes as well as timber-built motor cruisers for weekly hire.  Amongst them was a small (about 16ft x 6ft) shallow-draught, four-seat, passenger launch, driven by a two-stroke Stuart-Turner petrol engine built by him for hourly hire.

This launch was among his exhibits in the small boat section of the British Industries Fair in Birmingham.

One of these shows brought an order from Chester Zoo for passenger launches in which visitors could drive themselves on a small canal within the site.

Soon he was co-founding a dedicated boat show first held at Olympia and later at Earls Court.

dismantling footbridge dismantling footbridge

A timber hire boat, Falcon, designed by Fred Curtis, the then foreman, was his exhibit at the very first London Boat Show at Olympia in 1954. These pictures show the dismantling of the footbridge which was necessary in order to get her out.

Above left; Work begins on dismantling the bridge; Fred Curtis can be seen in the beret and Harry Lincoln puffing his pipe in the background. Above right, the job's nearly finished and right, Falcon is on her way.

Falcon leaves
1961 Boat Show catalogue entry

Our boat was the second cruiser designed by Hugh Easton (known as 'Digger'); his first had been the Lapwing in 1958.

Left, the Appleyard & Lincoln entry in the 1961 Boat Show catalogue which shows Brouhaha as 10ft longer than she actually was, no doubt a printer's error.

The following photographs from around this time are of the launch of a training skiff probably built for King's School Rowing Club. Below left, Brouhaha gets in on the act in the background; below right, the Head taking delivery is pictured with Appleyard & Lincoln staff Charlie Lovelace, Geoff Mann and Alan Scarrow who were involved in the build.

skiff Appleyard & Lincoln staff with skiff

Following Brouhaha Hugh Easton went on to design and lead the building of the 32ft hire boat, Shearwater, a similar but larger wooden cruiser. Below left, Shearwater on her way to the 1962 Boat Show; below right, on display there.

Shearwater Shearwater at Boat Show

Harry Lincoln was a pioneer of Glass Reinforced Plastic to which they switched in 1962. They went on to build over a thousand GRP boats before he retired.

Though Brouhaha, the original name of Orchard Delight, was unique her design was developed for the first GRP boat which was the Elysian 27 Cruiser.  The Elysian project was set up in a new 14,200 sq ft factory over the river called the Babylon site. Below left, Harry's new factory over the old slipway; below right, the factory dammed off from the river.

new factory being build new factory
At the beginning of 1962, just before the Elysian project began Hugh Easton designed the last timber vessel to be built, a patrol boat for the Norfolk Broads. Shown here under construction in the new factory and on test.Broads patrol boat
building Broads patrol boat
All the above photographs are courtesy of Hugh Easton to whom we are most grateful

Though GRP was slow to sell initially the Elysian 27 formed the hire fleet of Appleyard & Lincoln and in 1968 Elysian Holidays Ltd was launched which incorporated this hire fleet and that of FW Carrington with bases at Huntingdon, Earith and Ely.

elysian holidays advert

Above, Elysian Holidays advertisement which appeared in The Waterways Series—The Fens Book, a navigator guide directory of 1968 which sold for six shillings.  Editorial in the same book covers the launch of Elysian Holidays of which Harry Lincoln was one of the directors.

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