Vosper & Co. Ltd, Wivenhoe

The answer to a wartime emergency

John Collins (Nottage Maritime Institute)

Vosper's wet dock, ML276 and ML345 in the dock for repairs, with RML547 in the shed.
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Vosper's MTB353 on trials in the River Colne in 1943.
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Besides building sixteen motor torpedo boats for the Royal Navy, Vosper's Wivenhoe yard also built two high speed rescue craft for the Royal Air Force numbered 2575 and 2576.
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MTB 233 lost her bows in a collision in the North Sea. Somehow, her crew managed to get her back and up the river to Vosper's yard. She was successfully repaired and put back into service.
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In July 1941 Vosper & Co. Ltd took over Husk & Son’s yard, and the former premises of Cox & King.  They needed a safer place to build wooden MTBs after bombing had threatened to destroy their Portsmouth yard.

A large hanger-like building shed was constructed over the slipways.  This shed was not just to protect the workmen, but was mainly to provide a warm environment for the synthetic resin glue used to set hard, and also to allow work to proceed after sunset during the blackout.  Before they closed in 1946, a total of eighteen boats had been built and thirty five repaired.

This page was added on 28/03/2015.

Comments about this page

  • I am an ex Vosper employee who also worked at Cook’s Shipyard, my Father worked in the portsmouth yard as a boat builder and moved up to Wivenhoe during the war and met my mother Betty Clench who also worked at the yard, hence why I able to put this comment on today.

    By Alec Selley (13/07/2021)
  • Thanks Alec for your contribution to the Vosper story.
    Peter Hill, Chairman, Wivenhoe History Group

    By Peter Hill (07/08/2021)
  • Would be a wonderful sight. My grandfather was Technical Director of Vospers from the mid/late 30’s until the late 60’s, Robert.E.L. Lovell. He was a pioneer of marine ply boat construction and hydro-dynamics. He apprenticed at White’s on the IOW, then moved the British Power Boat Co and then Vospers before the war. He was also instrumental in the designs of Miss England 2 and the Bluebird K4. I’d love to know more about the whereabouts of Vospers MTBs today, they seem quite hard to track down. Ollie.

    By Ollie Gilbertson (04/05/2018)
  • Hi all nice to see old photos Good news is I’m looking to bring one of the Vosper MTBs home to Wivenhoe for a short visit prob be 1st time a MTB been up the river since world war 2 So once again the town will hear the rumble of those mighty engines All will be welcome to come and view

    By andy Merlin Engine Services (14/04/2017)
  • Hello Andy
    This sounds like wonderful news. Please do let me know the date when you are coming and I will get you a lot of publicity for your visit.
    Perhaps give me a call 01206 823073.
    Peter, Chairman Wivenhoe History Group (peter@toadhall2.co.uk)

    By Peter Hill (28/04/2017)

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