Borwick & Sons
Arthur Borwick, with Herbert Stanley Adams and the Deperdussin
Borwick & Sons
Borwick & Sons, boat builders of Bowness-on-Windermere, began their pioneering association with aviation in early 1910 which included hydro-aeroplanes, floats, propellers, maintenance and repair, ground support for passenger flights and flying boat hulls.
Isaac Borwick became in business with his sons: John as draughtsman and master yacht builder, then George, a former Solicitor’s clerk, dealing with administration and later Arthur who developed the engineering department. Not only were there boat building and engineering departments, but also a blacksmith and an upholsterer. The location remained at Cockshott.
New opportunities arose, but 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’. – A History of Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club from 1925 to 1975 by G Lambert and G E G Nayler.
In 1918, Borwicks were subcontracted by Dick, Kerr & Co. Ltd. to construct Felixstowe F.3 flying boat hulls. – Dick, Kerr & Co. Limited A History of the Company 1853-1919 by J Shorrock. Completed hulls were towed by motor boat to Lakeside and then transferred by rail to Preston, so as to be married up with the wings and tail units.
Historic events which took place at their boatsheds included:-
i. On 25 November 1911, Gnosspelius setting out when he made the first successful take-off from Windermere.
ii. Jack Kitchen developing the reversing rudder, which he patented in 1915.
iii. In 1928, Estelle I and Estelle II being launched. 85 miles per hour was attained by Betty Carstairs, the highest speed then reached on the lake. Each boat had a single Napier Lion VIIB engine, of the type which powered the 1927 Schneider Trophy-winning Supermarine S.5 seaplane.
iv. In 1930, Sir Henry Segrave, a former pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, superintending the initial tests of Miss England II, built by Saunders-Roe Ltd. Miss England II launching on 5 June which had twin Rolls-Royce R engines, of the type which powered the 1929 Schneider Trophy-winning Supermarine S.6. Tragically, Segrave was killed on 13 June when the boat crashed, having beaten the water speed record.
On 2 July 1924, a serious fire occurred.
Bill Bland started building boats at Windermere in 1899, and was employed from 1908 until 1954. Lifeboats for the Merchant Navy, seaplane tenders for the RAF and admiral’s barges were made. Bland claimed that ‘more work was turned out during World War 2 for the size of the workshop than anywhere else in the country’. – Cumbria magazine, January 1954.
The name was changed to Borwicks (Windermere), Ltd. in 1928, sending craft as far afield as America, Belgium, Egypt, India and the Red Sea; described by Isaac’s daughter Elizabeth Clark as being ‘to the Lake District what Cammell Lairds is to Birkenhead’. – Cumbria magazine, May 1964.
The premises were demolished upon being taken over by Windermere Aquatic Ltd. in 1972.
– Grateful thanks to Catriona Bailey and Jonathan Swift, great-grandchildren of Isaac Borwick, for providing photos.