Memories of Bideford Shipyard.

Many thanks to Mr. Freddie Palmer, who provided these photos. We’re sure that they’ll be of interest to many people.

Buzz” is dating the photos of the trawler “Galatea” as 1975, since records show that as date of launch.  Names supplied by Freddie Palmer & Kenny Davis. 

Any further photos for publication would be welcomed, as would memories of the Shipyard’s history.



Above,  L-R : Phil Pester, Harold Braund, Bill ‘Bimbo’ Hocking, Fred Palmer, Matty Blackmore.



Above,    L-R on deck : Alan Tuplin, ?, Phil Pester.

on slipway : ?, Colin Pennington, ?.




Above,   Alan Walker.


L-R : Des Roberts, Raymond Garrard, Matty Blackmore.


Buzz” shipping correspondent Norman Hardaker has supplied a schedule of vessels launched at Bideford Shipbuilders between 1966 & 1975 (listed as Name, category, & displacement).


Isle of Gigha / Sound of Gigha – ferry, 60.35 tons.


Fregata – fishing, 44.8 tons.

Sagitario – fishing, 44.8 tons.

Ibis – fishing, 44.8 tons.


Nocella – fishing, 22.17 tons.

Hasa Hasa – fishing, 40 tons.

Joanna C – fishing, 25 tons.


Don Bosco – fishing, 24.9 tons.

Polo – barge, 41.22 tons.


Our Tracey – fishing, 25.11 tons.

Barbarella – fishing, 25.11 tons.

WB.01 – WB.05 (5 vessels) – work boats, 25 tons.


Gull – pilot, 22 tons.

Miss Anna – tug, 83.21 tons.


Miss Debbie – tug, 83.21 tons.

Guardwell – customs, 30 tons.

Tri Star – passenger, 42.8 tons.

Polo II – hopper barge, 58.29 tons.


Peter David – passenger, 17.11 tons.

Golden Mariana – passenger, 40 tons.


Grima – ferry, 147.76 tons.

RNLB City of Bristol – lifeboat, 90 tons.

Langdale – trawler, 102.5 tons.

Majestic – trawler, 102.5 tons.

Solent Scene – passenger, 50 tons.


Vision – trawler, 102.5 tons.

Galatea – trawler, 102.5 tons.



For photos and information on some of the vessels on the above list that are still in use, link here. (By kind permission of ShipPhotos).



Happy Hours at the Bideford Ship Yard.

If I ever had the joy of ‘happy hour’ in my long working life, it has to be the two and a half years at Bideford Ship Yard, between coming home from the Dark Continent in 1972 until August 1974 when again returning to the African Veld.

At the Bideford Yard in those far off days we didn’t get as much on the hour compared to the big yard a mile down river, but we had plenty of daily laughs and a pleasure to go to work.

Looking at the front cover of the February edition showing photos of the former yard sent in by Fred Palmer (well done that man) – and yes, I do recognise most in the photo – Harold Braund, Bimbo Hocking, Fred Palmer, Mattie Blackmoor, can be seen standing on the nearby platform; in the second photo I can recognise Alan Tuplin, and further in the middle of three Bogey Clover, Colin Elliot and Steve Wicks.

There was one old hand in the ‘afternoon’ of his working life (Fred will remember him), a shipwright in his younger days serving King and country, who saw action at the River Plate aboard HMS Exeter . He had a number of repetitive catch phrases – ‘it can’t go on like this’, ‘the money’s run out,’ ‘where is it all going to end.? ‘ Then there was another shipwright of the same age who would more often than not break into song and sing his praises to the Lord for all the yard to hear :- ‘ it is not night while they are near.’

There was one piece of satire written on the toilet house wall – ‘ thank goodness for the raft, just to say we have launched something.’

One shipwright went by the name of ‘give us a fag’ ; as for me I was known at times as the ‘snorter king.’

Happy days,happy memories.

Kenny Davis – Blacksmith. Retired.


This entry was posted in History, Local People, Shipping and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Memories of Bideford Shipyard.

  1. Adrian Wills says:

    If Mr Waddell still has the model of Tarquin Grove, I am sure that the Appledore Maritime Museum of which I am a trustee, would appreciate it.

  2. Graeme Trinder says:

    Does anyone know what happened to the yacht plated in 90/10 CopperNickel built for a private client in the Midlands.

  3. Martin Grimm says:


    I am a hydrofoil enthusiast and am trying to learn more about the copany called “Wykeham Supramar Hydrofoil Limited”. In the September 1963 issue of Hovering Craft and Hydrofoil (which can be found on-line at it has a short article in “People and Projects” section which says:

    “W. Wykeham & Co Ltd, scientific engineers and research consultants, and Supramar AG of Switzerland have formed a new company under the name Wykeham Supramar Hydrofoil Limited for the design and manufacture of hydrofoil boats and to grant licences to suitable shipyards in the United Kingdom, Crown Colonies and Commonwealth countries.
    A design office for hydrofoils is being established at the head office at Old Queen Street House, Storey’s Gate, Westminster, SW1, and a shipyard has been acquired at Bideford, North Devon, which is at present being equipped for hydrofoil construction.
    It is intended that the hydrofoils for the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth should be entirely of British materials and manufacture, and to achieve this it will be necessary to modify the Supramar designs to accommodate British made engines”.

    Does the involvement of Wykeham Supramar Hydrofoil Limited in the Bideford Shipyard ring any memories for you? Wykeham Supramar Hydrofoil Limited only operated until 1975 before it was apparently disolved again.

  4. Graeme Trinder says:

    How nice to read this and bring back some very happy memories.

  5. Graham Waddell says:

    I have a scale model of Tarquin Grove which was built at the yard . I would like to gift it to a local museum if possible?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.