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Happy memories of a Russian visitation

PUBLISHED: 10:01 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:38 05 July 2010

Shelia, Leslie Pye, Christine Cartner, Colleen Hemp and Jenny helped to organise the Brooke Marine Reunion in 1998

Shelia, Leslie Pye, Christine Cartner, Colleen Hemp and Jenny helped to organise the Brooke Marine Reunion in 1998

MORE memories from Lowestoft's shipbuilding past are recounted this week as we continue our look back at Brooke Marine shipyard.

Last month we printed photographs and memories from the globally-renowned shipyard, while we also included images from when the staff were reunited for the first time.

A Brooke Marine night out at Great Eastern, in Denmark Road, 1953-1954. Pictured are David Wooden, Jackie White, Boo Beaumont and Geoffrey Durrant

MORE memories from Lowestoft's shipbuilding past are recounted this week as we continue our look back at Brooke Marine shipyard.

Last month we printed photographs and memories from the globally-renowned shipyard, while we also included images from when the staff were reunited for the first time.

The reunion took place in November 1998 when former employees, their families and friends descended on Parkdean Beach Holiday Village at Kessingland for a memorable evening of reminiscing.

Amongst those who helped to organise the occasion were a group of committed ladies, who worked hard to make the evening a success. Shelia, Leslie Pye, Christine Cartner, Colleen Hemp and Jenny are pictured here in front of a model of the M.V. Starman. The heavy lift ship was constructed by Brooke Marine and this model was made by Mr Bullard of Kessingland.

The photograph from the day was brought in by Peter Hemp, of Walmer Road, in Kirkley, who worked in the maintenance department at the shipyard from 1954 to 1983.

Brooke played a major role in Lowestoft from 1874 to 1993, building steel ships up to 400ft for customers across the globe. The company built patrol boats, minesweepers, customs boats, trawlers, tugs, landing craft and many other vessels for clients from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, the US and many other nations and their navies.

The key man behind the business was Harry Dorsett. He bought the company in 1940 and helped the business to flourish.

Geoffrey Durrant, of Gloucester Avenue, Oulton, worked as a marine fitter and turner between 1951 and 1956, and remembers the owner fondly.

“Harry Dorsett was an entrepreneur and a real fore runner. He won contracts to build ships for customers across the world and secured a £1m contract for 20 Russian trawlers.”

Mr Durrant particularly remembers this contract as when some of the Russian clients visited the town in December 1954, he volunteered to show them around the town.

“I took them shopping, when they bought suits and bolts of cloth, and lots of pairs of shoes for themselves, wives and children; all the modern stuff they could. In the afternoon I took them to a Lowestoft Town match,” he said.

“In return they gave me a number of little things, including a box of cigarette and tobacco box, to thank me for looking after them and taking them out.”

Mr Durrant left the business when he signed up for national service, but his five years were full of fond memories.

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