Born into a family of boating enthusiasts, as a teenager I began building canoes and sailing dinghies. After leaving school I worked in a boatyard in Cornwall until the 1970’s oil crisis and subsequent recession lead me to “weather the storm” in higher education. After a period building racing yachts in Lymington, I moved to the Thames to work at Peter Freebody’s boatyard ay Hurley. In 1982 I started my own boatbuilding business based at Hambleden. As commissions started to roll in Robert Dean joined me and a partnership was formed. Around 1990, Robert left the boatyard to start his photography business. I continued, retaining the name, Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders. At this point in the story Lucie Henwood, my wife, became involved with the business administration and provided a vital element in the success of the boatyard.
Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders soon gained a reputation for exceptional craftsmanship and many of the boats that had been restored or built at the yard won awards at various boat shows at home and abroad. Great craftsmanship coupled with modern and efficient business administration proved a successful formula with projects being completed on time, within budget and to an exceptional quality.
The boatyard formed important links with other talented and skilled people who brought their particular speciality to the work being carried out. The engineers who dealt with steam plant, rebuilding vintage petrol engines, and installing the latest technology in electric propulsion systems. The sign writer, the upholsterer, the cover maker all contributed to the overall success of the boatyard. In particular the naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme brought his design skills to many of the new build and restoration projects.
In October 2016, I handed over the ownership of Henwood and Dean BoatBuilders to Tony Knight and Dan Wood to enable me to concentrate on building and restoring beautiful wooden boats in my workshop at Long Wittenham.