I think that my ‘awareness’ of motor boats probably came from the early days of our little family moving from London to Chandler’s Ford.
Dad used to take us to Southampton, on a Saturday afternoon, and would see motor launches on Southampton Water from the Royal Pier, and also from my favoured ‘window seat’ of Mayes’ restaurant, where we often enjoyed afternoon tea, looking out across the Pirelli factory towards the “New Docks”.
These little craft must have made an impression on me, for I painted a scene of a motor boat in a coastal view, in 1957, with which I was lucky enough to win a painting competition.
In January, 1961, I was at a ‘loose end’, with a couple of bob burning a hole in my pocket. I found myself at Biddles newsagents, on Hiltingbury Road, near the Kingsway X-roads, and went in.
Looking at what was for sale, I found a copy of “Motor Boat and Yachting” magazine, which had a boat on its cover. It was 2/- (Two Shillings = 10p), which in those days was enough for a week’s sweets!
I poured over the contents of this magazine for weeks, taking in the adverts and pictures. In it was an item about a race for fast motor boats to be held in August 1961, sponsored by The Daily Express newspaper. This sounded interesting!
In May I bought another copy of “Motor Boat and Yachting”, which had more info, and a line drawing to scale, of a boat of the type the race was to be for. I was hooked!
The first race, from Cowes to Torquay took place and I eagerly followed the TV reports and the report in MB&Y of course!
While this was unfolding, I was of course, cycling to and from school, and doing a paper round both mornings and evenings. I was getting interested in cycling, for whether it be across land or water, the passage of types of transport interested me.
Cars and trains were ‘common fare’, but boats were exotic, and bikes attainable (for a 14 year old)!
In the autumn on 1961, I was invited by a friend who had been a paper boy, and who was a member of a cycling club, to join him and others in riding to that club’s weekly club room meeting at Redbridge, just west of Southampton. These meetings were on Thursday evenings, and it involved riding about six or seven miles each way.
I joined him and meeting in the back room of a pub had its own obvious attractions at that age!
Most of the other members were much older than I, but there were several of us younger newcomers, so I stuck at it, joined the club (The Cyclists Touring Club, a national body with branches of groups around the country).
I stared going on rides, on Sunday afternoons initially, to meet up with the ‘all day rides’ or “Club Runs” as they were known as, at the afternoon tea venue.
During about February 1962 I started going on the all-day rides, or club-runs, and in Easter I took part in the “Easter Tour”, which took us riding from Southampton, staying at Youth Hostels firstly to Bridport (about 80 miles), then to Crowcombe, in the Quantock Hill, and then to Street, near Glastonbury, before riding home, via Stourhead Gardens, to Salisbury (tea), and home on the Easter Monday evening.
I had probably ridden over 300 miles, got very tired, but determined to do more!
That stared my life-long involvement in cycling and cycling clubs.
At the same time I maintained my following of motor boats, much I think to my Father’s bemusement! He had never had a boat, nor had anyone he knew, but maybe that made me more determined to follow my interest!
More to follow tomorrow!
- Hazel Bateman: An Interactive Local History Talk by Martin Napier
Article Series by Martin Napier
- Part 1: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s-Ford: 1950s – 1960s
- Part 2: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Paper Boy; North End School
- Part 3: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s Bonfire Night
- Part 4: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: North End School
- Part 5: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bicycle, Bicycle!
- Part 6: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: A Summer of Hope and Sorrow
- Part 7: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: The Big Freeze in 1963
- Part 8: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Breaking Free from North End School
- Part 9: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: My Passions with Bikes and Boats
- Part 10: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bikes, Boats, and Adventures
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