The early days of powerboats at Chasewater – a massive gallery

I am honoured today to be able to share with readers an archive gallery of images that are of Chasewater and the Speedboat Club in the earliest years, when the lake was still surrounded by the remnants of mining history and the BRD Company of Aldridge were using the reservoir to test the outboard boat engines they were developing.

Image courtesy of David Hughes.

The full story is in my original post from some some years ago, where David Hughes explains that his father, Reg, was engaged in the development of the motor:

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

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.

Recently, David has found an archive of photos taken of the testing, trials and competitions of the time online, and has obtained them for me to share here. The images are naturally taken, of variable quality but it has to be said they are fascinating and a real document of the times, company and project.

David wrote:

Bob

Recently whist looking on Flickr I came across over 100 old (B&W) photographs of Chasewater. Much to my surprise I found out that they were taken by my father!

You may remember a few years ago I sent you an article about BRD in Aldridge building outboard motors and testing them at Chasewater. The photographs are of that period and mainly taken from the speedboat clubhouse area.

Many are poor quality and just show a lot of water! However there are some quite good ones.

All the photos are from the early 1960’s and relate directly to the previous information which I sent about BRD Bermuda outboard motors. Bermuda appears frequently.

There are many similar shots, but I think overall they provide an interesting view of Chasewater.

Many thanks
David Hughes

As is often the case, study the background, too – it’s interesting. This is a document of Chasewater when it was still effectively a polluted industrial wasteland, before the leisure era fully kicked in. It’s fascinating.

The gallery is massive, and to see any image in detail, click on it for a larger version.

Thanks to David for sharing it with us – it’s truly stunning and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his generosity and for completing the circle.

If you want to read the ‘Early Days at BRD’ book, you can download a copy from this post here in electronic form – and don;t forget the origins of this story below the gallery!

Image courtesy of David Hughes. Click any image for a larger version.

Original post:

chasewater-2-1

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.

chasewater-1-1

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.

bermuda-2-8

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.

bermuda-2-1

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

bermuda-2-16

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.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The early days of powerboats at Chasewater – a massive gallery

  1. Malcom farmer says:

    Talking of boats and chase water ,I remember fletchers speedboats using the res as a testing water for their aroe 21 and 35.speedboats.somtimes returning without the prop. Or loosing the entire boat.

  2. Kevin Jones says:

    Excellent record of how the pool was used in former times.

  3. David Evans says:

    Birmingham Daily Post, 8 October 1959 has this brief report, at the bottom of page 29;-

    “Outboard Motor Test at Brownhills
    The Walsall engineering firm of B.R.D.Ltd is testing the prototype of a 40 h.p. outboard motor at Chasewater, Brownhills. It will be the largest British motor of its kind.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.