Celebrating 90 years of boatbuilding on the River Orwell
Fox’s Marina & Boatyard has come a long way since its early beginnings in the 1920’s, when Charlie Fox started building sailing dinghies in a small shed on the banks of the River Orwell and it’s unlikely he could have foreseen that the name he gave his fledgling business would be recognised today as one of the UK’s most established and respected yacht refit and repair yards.
As motor boating gained in popularity through the 1920’s and 30’s, the Fox’s yard was kept busy building small cruisers, until the outbreak of World War II, when Fox’s was commissioned by the Admiralty to produce sailing cutters for training young seamen.
After the war, Fox’s picked up where they left off, building pleasure craft, but with the decline of traditional boat building in the 1960’s, Fox’s moved in to fitting out GRP hulls. Sailing craft became an important part of production and by the early 1970’s Fox’s fortunes were beginning to enjoy a revival.
By the mid 1970’s, new boatbuilding yards were springing up all over the country and pricing became a critical factor in securing orders. Fox’s survived by adapting to the new, modern boat building methods, to the dismay of many of the yard’s traditional shipwrights! At the same time, Fox’s diversified into plug making for a number of production boat builders including Seamaster and Shetland.
In 1974, Fox’s was sold to Eastern Tractors who moved the company to its current waterside site. New buildings were erected and a small marina dredged.
In 1985, the Fox’s business and marina site was acquired by Richard Matthews, the founder of Oyster Yachts, who had already been using the Fox’s yard to commission their new Oyster yachts for several years and Fox’s Marina & Boatyard remains in the same ownership over 30 years later.
Over the last 32 years, significant investment has been made in the facilities at Fox’s, which now boasts some of the most extensive yacht refit and repair facilities to be found anywhere in the UK. With dedicated departments all located on its own 15-acre site, Fox’s is unique amongst the majority of boatyards in providing a complete service in-house, with teams of highly skilled engineers and craftsmen, boat handlers, riggers, electricians and fabricators. A modern boatyard for the 21st Century by any standards, but the core values of service, quality and traditional shipwrighting skills remain as relevant at Fox’s today as they were 90 years ago.