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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    West Sussex / Hants
    Posts
    28,771

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    WestieOwner,

    well I'm still here with the West Eleven brochure you're welcome to a scan of - when I learn to drive my new scanner, if you'd like a copy PM me with your e-mail.

    I remember seeing West Elevens when new at Shepherds, Bowness on Windermere.

    Andy
    Anderson 22 Owners Association - For info please ask here or PM me.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    Thanks. I got in touch with Bob via the email address he posted, and he sent me a scan of the brochure.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    I am even later to this thread, but I can supply some much-needed information.

    The West Eleven was definitely inspired by the Mirror dinghy but at the time they were in production there was no alternative GRP version - and GRP was the "in thing"

    The dinghy was designed by my cousin Geoffrey R Sutton who at the time was Managing Director and owner of Weston Electric Units Ltd., Station Road, Foulridge, Colne, Lancashire, a company which had been formed by his father Richard. My own father was Works Manager there until his death in 1986. The company were high-precision, machinist sub-contractors to the aircraft industry, making components for British Aerospace and Rolls Royce Aero Engines, for both military and commercial aircraft. Geoffrey was also a keen sailor and had a holiday property on Windermere where Shepherds had built a small sailing day cruiser for him.
    He had the idea of building a GRP dinghy to much the same formula as the Mirror, but slightly longer, as has been mentioned and with some compound curvature to the hull section which was not possible with ply construction. They built a plug from which moulds were made, at a time when the aircraft business was in the doldrums, as a means of maintaining employment for the workforce and income for the company.

    The dinghies were initially built in a tiny factory unit situated at Catfold Farm, Foulridge, approximately 500 yards from the main engineering factory, and the premises were inspected and certified by Lloyds I seem to recall.

    As soon as the dinghy hit the market there was indeed a legal challenge raised by Jack Holt and Barry Bucknell, the joint designers of the Mirror. When it went to court it was noted that the West bore a striking resemblance to the Mirror, but my cousin successfully argued:

    1. The the lines of the West Eleven could not be accurately reproduced in sheet plywood and that the finished dinghy was dimensionally different from the Mirror.

    2. That the patent referred to by Barry Bucknell was specific to the stitch-tape-glue construction and had no application or bearing on the construction of the West Eleven.

    It was therefore ruled that there was no direct infringement of the Mirror design and the case was dismissed, but a concession was agreed that the inner moulding would be altered to give greater distinction between the Mirror and the West Eleven, Thus was born the West Eleven Mark 2, where the foredeck was replaced by an open cockpit with a cross beam carrying a mast step. The hull outer moulding remained the same however.

    Around this time, the aircraft industry was recovering from it's troubles and as business returned to normal production was handed over to Shepherds who continued to make West dinghies for a time. There was a small flotilla of them at the Ullswater Sailing School for several years but I have no idea if any of these survive or if the moulds still exist. In any event, true GRP Mirror dinghies arrived on the scene which made the West Eleven a little redundant.

    The original manufacturers continued for many years as a hugely successful precision engineering business, and after the passing of Geoffrey Sutton it continued in the family and run by his sons, until they sold the company to Senior Engineering around 10 years ago, where the factory was moved to Earby, West Yorkshire and is still in operation.

    My personal West Eleven connection is that I purchased a Mark 1 around 1980 followed by another - and then another. Quite by chance I ended up with two dinghies that had consecutive sail numbers (1361/1362 - or thereabouts) and there was the Mark 1 and two Mark 2s. I sold all the dinghies when moving house in the late 1990s to a now-defunct Nationwide Boat Sales near Chesterfield - so they are still probably out there somewhere.

    I hope this information has been useful to owners and to those building a history of the dinghy. They are very handy boats, probably a little heavier than a GRP Mirror but in the right hands a little faster compared with a Mirror of the same era.

    Very nice to see people still using them and wanting to know the history.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    As a further note, I should say that although many West dinghies may be using Mirror sails, the West Eleven originally had its own suit of Jeckells sails which had a slightly different area than the Mirror. Unfortunately I don't remember the fine details.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    West Sussex / Hants
    Posts
    28,771

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    Razor1955,

    thanks very much, very interesting info.

    Andy
    Anderson 22 Owners Association - For info please ask here or PM me.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    Razor1955

    Thanks for all that. It makes sense of a situation that was really rather foggy previously. I'd never even heard of the boat until a friend offered me the one he was using (belonging to a friend of his, now sadly deceased).

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: West Eleven Dinghy

    On the subject of colour, my Westie is white hull with pale blue interior, teak gunwale capping, centrecase and main thwart, and black anodised aluminium mast, of which the masthead and foot are pine plugs, varnished since I've had her. The sails are white, though my dad gave me a red Mirror jib for her, which is marginally smaller than the white one in every dimension. The chap I got it from had broken the original GRP mast thwart, so she now sports a spendid varnished oak custom-built replacement. I took all the varnish back to bare wood and she has varnished up beautifully.

    The sailing qualities are pretty much the same as a mirror. Mine has toestraps fitted, although I note that the original brochure claimed the boat didn't need them. I think the main reason was that it's so uncomfortable hanging over the side on them, with such a narrow gunwale.

    I'm going to have to replace the ancient tube self-bailer which leaks so much I've had to tape it over on the outside. I think a basic small chute bailer will do the trick. If anyone has wisdom on the subject, I'd be glad to read of it.

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