Borwick & Sons

On 10 February 1900, the boat building partnership formed in 1890 of Nathaniel Shepherd and Isaac Borwick was amicably dissolved.

Isaac Borwick was in business with his sons: John as draughtsman and master yacht builder, then George dealing with administration and later Arthur who developed the engineering department. Not only were there boatbuilding and engineering departments, but also a blacksmith and an upholsterer. The location remained at Cockshott, Bowness-on-Windermere.

The pioneering association with aviation began in early 1910 with the floats and hydro-aeroplanes of Oscar Gnosspelius, and included propellers, maintenance and repair, together with administration for passenger flights.

Borwick’s made Waterbird’s floats; Arthur was present for Waterbird’s first flight on 25 November 1911.

Whilst new opportunities were presented to Borwick’s, they were not without personal risk! In September 1912, Arthur lost the tops of 2 fingers which came into contact with a propeller (which ironically he had made) when turning it to start Waterhen’s (Waterbird’s successor) engine.  George was turning a propeller for Gnosspelius when the engine roared into life and the propeller did ‘quick and irreparable damage to his traditional summer straw hat’. – Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club: From 1925 to 1975 by G Lambert and G E G Nayler.

In 1918, Borwick’s were subcontracted by Dick, Kerr & Co. to construct Felixtowe F.3 flying boat hulls. Completed hulls were towed by motor boat to Lakeside and then transferred by rail to Preston.

Their workshops were the location where Jack Kitchen developed his reversing rudder and Sir Henry Segrave superintended the initial tests of Miss England II, which was the first boat in the world to achieve 100 miles per hour. Miss England II was powered by Rolls-Royce ‘R’ aero engines of the type which had powered the 1929 Schneider Trophy-winning Supermarine S.6.

Bill Bland started building boats for Windermere in 1899, and began employment with Borwick’s in 1908. Lifeboats for the Merchant Nay, seaplane tenders for the RAF and admiral’s barges were made. Bland claimed that Borwick’s turned out more work during the second world war for the size of the workshop than anywhere else in the country’. – Cumbria magazine, January 1954.

 They became Borwicks (Windermere), Limited in 1928, sending craft as far afield as America, Belgium, India and the Red Sea and described by Isaac’s daughter Elizabeth Clark as ‘being to the Lake District what Cammell Laird was to Birkenhead’. – Cumbria magazine, May 1964.

The premises were demolished upon being taken over by Windermere Aquatic Limited in 1972.


Windermere: birthplace of British naval and civil marine aeroplanes