A vast number of items have been made in Cowes over the years with this exhibition showing a cross-section of what the town has produced.
George Chasney, Chairman of Cowes Heritage, referred to the refurbished shelter on Cowes Parade and announced their next project was to restore the light at Egypt Point. He then called on Ian Lallow, the fourth generation of the renowned Cowes boatbuilders Clare Lallow, to open the exhibition. Ian first sailed a 10ft dinghy at the tender age of 8, before progressing some years later to ocean racing. Indeed, he helmed Sir Edward Heath’s ‘Morning Cloud’ with the late Anthony Churchill another crew member.
Ian told of his family history: In the late 1600s a Frenchman by the name of Isaac Lalau settled in this country and over the years the name evolved to Lallow. It was in 1867 that Ian’s great grandfather set up Clare Lallow and with Ian retiring in 1990 the company has not built a boat since but undertake repairs and renovations of boats with their skilled workforce. Ian was presented with a calendar and these will be on sale at the exhibition together with books on Cowes.
Sir Edward Heath sold ‘Morning Cloud 2’ in the mid- 1970s and she was renamed ‘Opposition’. In 2007, ‘Opposition’ – now owned by Jamie Matheson (Brewin Dolphin) – returned to the Clare Lallow yard for restoration.
Referred to as the Yachtmen’s Jeweller, Benzie of Cowes was established in 1862 by Simpson Benzie. Over the years Benzie has specialised in producing silver models of memorable yachts such as Endeavour (1934) Westward (1935) and Coweslip (1968) the Flying Fifteen raced by Prince Philip during Cowes Week.
In 2000 Benzie was commissioned to produce a new mayoral chain for Cowes. This featured sterling silver gilded with fine gold and incorporated the Cowes Town crest and other allied features. East Cowes Town Council also had their mayoral chain crafted by Benzie in 2008.
Cowes boat builder W.A. Souter built ‘Outlaw’ a Bermudan Cutter, for Sir Max Aitken in 1963. In the 1960s W. A. Souter was responsible for building three powerboats that raced successfully at Cowes.
‘Ghost Rider’ (1966) raced by the American Jim Wynne and ‘Surfury’ (1967) with Charles and Jimmy Gardner at the controls won the Cowes- Torquay race. Jimmy Gardner headed up the Yardley Cosmetics Company, and in 1968 “Surfury” triumphed in the Round the Island Powerboat Race. There is a model of ‘Surfury’ in the exhibition with the original being built in Medina Yard, now home to the Classic Boat Museum.
In 1968, with the main race now Cowes-Torquay-Cowes, Tommy Sopwith (winner of the first powerboat race in 1961 with ‘Thunderbolt’) tasted victory aboard the Souter built ‘Telstar’.
Spencer Rigging was founded in 1958 when Harry Spencer realised high- class stainless steel rigging was required for the new aluminium masts being produced. For the 2001 America’s Cup Jubilee Regatta several high- profile clients chose Spencer Rigging. This innovative company has undertaken several non-marine projects including Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, the Eden Project, Legoland Windsor and the Mound Stand at Lords Cricket Ground.
‘Made in Cowes’ continues until 10th November.