An enduring history

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The endurance boat as it finished the 7day trial. Image very kindly supplied by David Hughes – please click for a larger version.

There are two subjects I really wish I could feature more of here on the Brownhills Blog – recent, postwar history and images of Chasewater, and more on local industry, like the BRD – well, today I get to feature both are reader David Hughes recently sent me the following article out of the blue, and it tells of a bit of local history I didn’t know: the BRD in Aldridge experimented with boat motors.

Thanks to David for a wonderfully informative article, and for highlighting the innovative nature of local industry. I nearby appeal for scans of the BRD book if anyone can manage it as I think it would be a lovely addition to the works here on the blog, and I know many readers are interested in the history of the company.

David Hughes wrote:

Chasewater and  the BRD

In the late 1950s the BRD Company in Aldridge started to develop an outboard motor for powerboats.

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Early (cold) days in the building of the powerboat club. Image very kindly supplied by David Hughes – please click for a larger version.

The engine was called the Bermuda. I was told at the time that the name was chosen because it was ‘exotic’ and contained the letters BRD in order.

After the Staffordshire Hydroplane Boating Club gave their permission, most of the engine testing was carried out at Chasewater.  The Bermuda project team spent many days testing the prototype engines and entered them in many powerboat races held at Chasewater. In 1961 they were 1st and 2nd fastest in the ‘D’ class times in the boat builder trials at Chasewater.

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Boats preparing for one of the races at Chasewater. Image very kindly supplied by David Hughes – please click for a larger version.

However, the most exciting test was the one which took place around November 1961 when a team of 20 men took turns to drive a twin Bermuda engine boat round Chasewater for 24 hour a day for 7 days. They covered around 4000 miles. This kind of endurance test had never been done before and gave the company national and international attention.

My father, Reg Hughes, was a development engineer on the Bermuda project and was one of the drivers. He drove the boat on the night shift and it was an experience he would never forget.

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Four of the BRD staff involved in the project including my father on the right and I think that second from the left is the ex-speedway rider Vic Emms. Image very kindly supplied by David Hughes – please click for a larger version.

As a result of his involvement with the project our family often found itself at Chasewater watching the racing and sometimes manning the rescue boats. We also spent many weekends in Aberdovey where the salt water testing took place.

I hope this is of interest
David Hughes

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The cover of ‘Early days at BRD’ which is a fascinating book that documents the Bermuda history among many other events at the BRD. Image very kindly supplied by David Hughes – please click for a larger version.

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5 Responses to An enduring history

  1. stuart says:

    Another fascinating piece of local history about a successful local company and a place that’s always been a bit special to me. Well done both.

  2. Darron Hillier says:

    very interesting Chasewater Power Boat club holds fond memories for me having spent many a Sunday afternoon there with my father Michael Hillier who was member and racer. would love to hear more about CPBC. Thanks

  3. Rob Emms says:

    Hello David, I was amazed to see your article on the BRD, my dad (Vic Emms) worked with your dad on the Bermuda project – great memories for me. I’m sorry to tell you that second from left isn’t Vic Emms, not sure who it is, I know they used to work with another man called “Billy Beer”? – great name! I have a few pictures taken at the BRD and Chaswater with engines, boats, custom liveried vans etc. Do you recall the relationship with Norman Fletcher? I too have some very fond memories of time spent at Chaswater powerboat meetings as a young boy. My Father worked with Norman Fletcher (after leaving the BRD), his job (amongst other things) was fitting engines into exotic hulls and co-piloting (trimming) Norman Fletcher boat when racing.

    100’s of memories are coming back!

    I will put something together and post it on the site (Bob permitting) soon

    Cheers
    Rob Emms

    • david hughes says:

      Rob
      Sorry I got the picture wrong, but glad I stirred some good memories. Like you I have many other photographs and memories to share although perhaps too many for here. I’ll try to contact you directly.

      Thanks

      David

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