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More Brooke Marine memories recalled

09:00 29 May 2009

The USS Beaufort, which was built by Brooke Marine

The USS Beaufort, which was built by Brooke Marine

THE Brooke name has been synonymous with boatbuilding in Lowestoft for nearly a century, but earlier this month the company's most recent incarnation, Brooke Marine Yachts, went into liquidation.

Foreman Painter John Easter, second left, on The USS Beaufort

THE Brooke name has been synonymous with boatbuilding in Lowestoft for nearly a century, but earlier this month> the company's most recent incarnation, Brooke Marine Yachts, went into liquidation.

Brooke was originally formed in Lowestoft in 1911 and became Brooke Marine when Harry Dowsett bought the company in 1940. Over the last few months Turning Back the Clock has featured many memories and pictures from the well-loved business - and they just keep coming.

Last month, Peter Hemp, of Walmer Road, Lowestoft, recalled the time when Capt Arthur Robert Erwin presented him with a signed booklet to mark the commissioning ceremony of the USS Beaufort.

Seeing this, John Easter, of Farnham Close, Oulton Broad, came in to The Journal's offices to share his memories of three ships that Brooke Marine built for the US Navy.

Mr Easter was a foreman in the company's paint department, which employed about 50 people, and believes he may be the only employee to have sailed on each of the USS Edenton, Brunswick and Beaufort.

He was even featured in Shipbuilding News, where he explained the turbulent journey when they delivered the USS Edenton in December 1970.

“We were due to hand the vessel over to the US Navy at Norfolk, Virginia, and we hit some really nasty weather. The ship's log showed wind up to 84 miles an hour and seas of up to 55 feet. It was quite nasty - and nearly all the US crew were seasick.

“The ship rolled and rolled. But we had several Brooke Marine men on board busy fishing off paintwork in various parts of the ship. We just had to get the work done, though it was a bit difficult to stand still long enough to paint on.”

Today, Mr Easter still has a copy of the log, which documents the delivery of the vessel from leaving Lowestoft on Friday, December 18, 1970, to when the Brooke Marine party left John F Kennedy Airport, New York on Friday, January 8, 1971.

Another to contact The Journal with his memories of Brooke Marine was Kenneth Harrison, of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Mr Harrison was an apprentice from 1940 to 1944, when he learnt boatbuilding and naval architecture.

“Brooke always had a reputation for its very high standard of craftsmanship prior to the war and this continued during the war. Although Lowestoft had numerous air raids during the war the yard was never in any danger, however, we had to dash to the air raid shelter just in case,” he said.

“It was a very interesting and rewarding experience and I remember very well many of the wonderful people who worked in the yard.”

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