Bristol Boats Limited
In 1959 Charlie Sheppard was a successful garage owner. He had a car showroom, service centre and petrol filling station in Brislington, Bristol. One day someone brought a wooden runabout in as a part exchange against a car. The runabout sold easily and Charlie wanted to buy others to sell. Some while later Charlie was having difficulty getting enough of the kind of boats that seemed to sell well.
He bought an old paintwork factory in Saltford, near Bristol and set about building boats. First of all they built Enterprise sailing dinghies, then later manufactured fibreglass (GRP) workboats, dinghies, composite sailing cruisers and speedboats. Initially the designer was Claude Nethercott but when he left the company Charlie took on the boat design himself.
By now, the early 1960’s, Charlie’s interest in racing powerboats was greater than his interest in family boats or workboats. Even so, every major waterboard in the country had fishing/workboats designed and made by Bristol boats. The range of workboats was from 12ft to 24ft and all had the distinctive clinker-look. The gunwhales were timber, as were the thwarts, knees and stringers. This traditional look was perfect when combined with the practicalities of GRP.
The racing boats: the flat-bottomed ‘Sheeza-B’ driven by the young John Hill, ‘Emma Jane’ driven by Charlie’s son Andrew, through the deep-V hulls of the EU class driven by John Pearce, Albert Hoy, Derek Thompson, the larger ON class boats driven by the legendary Don Ross, Jackie Wilson and Brian Hunt, on to the pickle-fork catamarans, stepped-hull catamarans and heart-stopping speeds of the OZ class driven by Tony Williams, Alf Bullen, Peter Inward, Brian Kendall and so many more.