Landamores boat builders in Hoveton: Still on course after 96 years

A classic Mayfly 16, a Landamores best-seller, out on the water (photo: Stephen Sparks / Perfect Pos

A classic Mayfly 16, a Landamores best-seller, out on the water (photo: Stephen Sparks / Perfect Pose Photography) - Credit: Archant

From dinghies to multi-million pound ocean-going yachts, Broads boatbuilder Landamores has crafted them all

Boatbuilders at work in the Landamores yard (photo: Paul Hewitt)

Boatbuilders at work in the Landamores yard (photo: Paul Hewitt)

Boat-building in the Broads has existed for as long as the waters themselves. Among one of the longest-established builders today is the family firm of Landamores, based at Hoveton.

Its story began back in 1923, when founding father Ted Landamore opened a fledgling boat hire business. In the following years he moved to building small cruisers and water buses as his business grew.

Landamores acquired a reputation as first-class boatbuilders, its craftsmen creating some of the best-made vessels on the water. But, as with most firms, the advent of the Second World War saw an abrupt change in direction as all hands went to the war effort.

Landamores was no exception and the boat-builders' woodworking skills were initially put to use making domestic necessities like clothes horses, stepladders and ironing boards as well as ammunition boxes and floats for mine-sweeping.

But they were soon back doing what they did best. Through the rest of the war they made fast rescue boats for the RAF, ships' lifeboats and harbour launches.

Detail from a Landamores craft (photo: Ian Roman)

Detail from a Landamores craft (photo: Ian Roman) - Credit: © Ian Roman

Once hostilities ended, it was back to business for Ted with boat hire and building new craft and the following decades saw dozens of classic boats, sailing dinghies, cruisers and speedboats leaving the yard.

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New materials were entering the sailing world and Landamores was moving with the times, fitting out glass-reinforced plastic hulls and developing a new range of ever-bigger vessels.

In 1973 came the alliance which propelled the firm to the big time. Oyster Marine, famed for creating world-class ocean-going yachts, took Landamores on as their boatbuilder and for almost four decades the Norfolk craftsmen turned out dozens of multi-million pound boats.

The partnership came to an end in 2012 when Oyster took their building in-house but the story for Landamores doesn't end here, as Rob Spelman-Marriott, who looks after Landamore's sales, marketing and business development, explains.

Rob Spelman-Marriott, Anthony Landamore and Jon Brooke (photo: Ian Roman)

Rob Spelman-Marriott, Anthony Landamore and Jon Brooke (photo: Ian Roman) - Credit: © Ian Roman

"Landamores had been one of the most reputable companies in the UK for a very long time - nearly 100 years. When Oyster took their building in-house the company was going to do something else and always continue to build boats, it was just a question of what was right.

"Now we build a range of classic launches which are suitable for the Norfolk Broads, the Thames and further afield. A lot of them are electric but we also build them with diesel or petrol power to suit the customer.

"We are also very much a working boatyard so we look after loads of yachts and boats on the Broads and rivers, and we also have a 140-berth marina site in Wroxham," says Rob.

It is also still very much a family business, with Anthony Landamore and his sister Anna Brooke as directors of the company. Anna's son John and Anthony's daughter Jenny are also involved.

It make sbeautiful craft, like the Slipper launch, an iconic 1940s British design. "They never get old; they are very, very elegant. Very different from the average day boat you get on the Broads!" says Rob, a former professional racing sailor who came to Norfolk eight years ago.

He has fallen in love with his adopted county. "What I love about the Broads is that wherever you are, whatever boat show you're at, and you say 'I now live on the Norfolk Broads', everyone has a story; 'I went on the Broads when I was a kid!' or 'I remember a sailing holiday when my dad took me on the Broads...'

Landamores' fame is worldwide. "There is a network of people who love wooden craft and want them maintained," says Rob, saying that they have a 1940s launch which has come to them from Newport, Rhode Island, in the USA, for restoration.

Finding the craftsmen to help maintain Landamore's reputation is not so easy these days. "It's all about having the right people; as much as you'd like the numbers it's most important you have the right people," says Rob.

It took a number of staff back from Oyster and has a relationship with the International Boatbuilding Training College at Lowestoft as well as a good team of youngsters.

Most of their builds are bespoke, with customers selecting a base boat style to put their personal stamp on. "We're in a day and age where people like to have things to suit themselves," says Rob.

Building a boat may take two months to a year, depending on specification. And with orders coming in and the promise of more as the firm tours the biggest boat shows in the country there is every probability that Landamores will still be in business in another 90 years.