Bespoke boat builders
H.J. Mears & Son Boat Builders was founded in 1945 by Harold Mears. Harold was to be found around boats from an early age and prior to World War II he worked for H. Lavis & Son at Camperdown Terrace, Exmouth, and then moved on to work for Dixon & Son at Exmouth Dock. With the onset of War and his boatbuilding experience Harold then started as a Chief Shipwright building 65 foot carvel MFV’s (Motor Fishing Vessels) at Topsham, used for both minesweeping and fishing.
With the desperate need for such vessels he continued doing this valuable work throughout the War. Then in 1945 experience and opportunity came together and Harold started building fishing boats in a disused grain store at the back of Pioneer Haulage, Causeway Road, Beer. In the days before TV there would always be plenty of people about but with Harold around they wouldn’t get a chance to be idle; “Don’t you stand around there; come here and hold on to this dolly!”
Unfortunately not many photos survive of the boats built in the 1940’s but you can see some here. They Show Dougie Orley’s “Grey Goose” being timbered down Fore Street, Beer and being used for passenger Mackerel tripping, Arthur Chapple’s boat “Peter Pan”, the “Chardor” E233 for Charlie Miles the director of Players Tobacco the name coming from Charlie and Dora the two owners. This boat was launched without the aid of a tractor to slow her journey down the slipway (against the advice of Harold!) and careered into one of the oak capstans so she had to go back in for repairs without touching the water and the owner had to pay for a new capstan for Harry Abbot!