BOAT BUILDING AT GALMPTON CREEK
Dolphin Boatyard, situated in Galmpton Creek on the river Dart, has not changed hands too many times over the years – In fact only 3 times in nearly 170 years.
The first recorded sale was from the Duchy of Cornwall to William Hall in 1850, Mr Hall having been a tenant of the Duchy for a number of years before that time.
By 1868 Mr Wiliam Hall had a thriving shipyard business.
When Mr William Hall retired the yard passed to his nephew, Stanley Bernard Hall in 1924 and Hall’s Shipyard became an even greater hive of industry.
There were boatyards on both sides of the creek namely Gibbs (later Sanders) and Halls. Both turning out the traditional mule stern trawlers for the Brixham Fishing Fleet as well as individual craft. The yards built some 300 plus trawlers between them over a 100 year period.
During the World War II years, both yards were pressed into service to build craft for Coastal Forces. Gibbs/Sanders yard coming under the management of Curtis of Looe, who had also taken over the boat building at Totnes, whilst Hall’s Shipyard was given the responsibility of managing their own team.
S.B. Hall must have worked around the clock as records show that, during the period, they built and launched a total of 25 craft = 4 a year when they usually took some year to 18 months to build.!
(6 MGB’s (Motor Gun Boats) 6 MTB’s (Motor Torpedo Boats, 4 Fairmile B ML’s (Motor Launches), 3 Wartime MFV’s (Armed Fishing Boats) and 4 HSL’s (High Speed Launches).
The build time being 8 weeks on average utilising the two undercover slips in existence at that time and two grids. In between building the yard was also responsible for general repairs of craft stationed at Dartmouth.
Mr Hall retired in 1956 when the yard was sold to John Perrett and renamed the Dolphin Boatyard.
Once again the yard saw the production of yachts and motor boats but it was also home to the famous Western Lady Ferry Service which the Perrett’s bought from The Edhouses in 1963. The ships plied their passenger boat trade between Brixham & Torquay and to the river Dart in the summer months and would be laid up for routine maintenance and repair each winter at Dolphin Boatyard.
Boat building stopped in 1971 for the yard to concentrate on boat repairs and moorings and operating the passenger boats.
Due to ill health the passenger boats were reduced from four to two in 2007 and then sold off altogether in 2012.
The yard had been going through a period of non-activity and general decline for a number of years until the decision was made to sell it – but with the provision that it continued as a working boat yard for as long as possible.
In 2014 Ben Morris became the new owner and it is his aim to restore the yard to its former glory.