Brian Marsh and John Gardner on Healey Marine

Interviews with Brian Marsh on making the hulls for the boats and testing their stability and John Gardner on building fibreglass Healey boats

Brian Marsh worked for Healey Marine in the Cape Works and John Gardner had various jobs at the Cape Works including working in the drawing office and working for Healey Marine.


Interviewer: Can you say a little bit about what you did in that first job?

Brian Marsh: Yes, as I say I was a trainee, but I got involved with the carpenters including Peter Lambert, making the hulls to the boats which was a bit, what’s the word, it wasn’t very fine work, but the eventual decking was, it was strips of ebony inlayed and strips of teak, glued together to imitate boards and covered over with paper and glue and sanded down to a fine finish and varnished eventually and they really looked good. They looked the business when they were finished.  And the boats were sprayed in the shop by a guy, who I think he was the Manager of the Boat Department called Dick Portsmouth, Dick Portsmouth used to spray two or three boats in a sequence in a day and he would never wear a mask…

Interviewer: What did you do, what was it like testing the boats?

Brian Marsh: Well, as I said, I only went once to test the boats and we only went then for ballast.  We were thrown in the bottom of the boat to give it some form of stability. There were trying to work out whether to put more ballast in the boat or whether it needed, I know they were jumping onto the decks of the boat, off a small quay or landing stage, to see whether it was stable when they landed on the bonnets and we were in the bottom of the boat getting knocked about a bit, but, you know, nothing serious, but I could understand what they were trying to achieve.

John Gardner: The Healey boat at that point was a plywood Ski boat with the same engine basically as the Healey 100.  I used to do wiring up on them, etc.  We would do quite a bit towards them.

John Gardner: They used to take them to two or three other places.  Eventually, we used to take them to Oxfordshire, to the gravel quarries where they were permanently taking gravel out of the site and they would be tested there, but they were the later boats.  They were the fibreglass boats.  We were building round about ten a week, fiberglass boats.  Mainly ladies doing the fibreglass work and I was doing moulds and making final adjustments and rectifying.  I was making the grills for the Dowty units and we were fitting up all the boats for all that.  We had some very good people there doing the boats that had come from Perranporth.

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