July 2020 was a momentous month for Cox’s as it marks 25 years since a consortium of eight people, one manager and a team of workers rescued the business from disrepair and potential liquidation, and began the process of transforming it into the modern, thriving Broads’ boatyard it is today.
The last quarter of a century has seen careful but innovative development and expansion regularly taking place, so that we now have more than 400 regular customers, all of whom benefit from the unrivalled expertise of our craftsmen and the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment on offer.
Since the early days there have been countless improvements, including the installation of a new shower and toilet block and the design and installation of a rainwater-harvesting boat wash-down facility. We have also replaced more than half a mile of quay heading, upgraded the car park, and purchased a bespoke remote-controlled boat mover and travel hoist. The most significant investment to date, however, has been the construction in 2014 of our magnificent, purpose-built workshop, which has the capacity to house up to 18 boats at any one time and which has significantly improved the way we work throughout the year.
All the projects on the boats that we have undertaken over the past 25 years hold special memories and fill us with pride, but some special highlights include the sensitive 24-month restoration of a classic Broads’ cruiser, Shaft of Light; the total restoration of the 49-foot classic gentleman’s launch Laughing Water, which was originally built in 1912 for Lady Astor, Britain’s first woman MP; and the total rebuild of the gentleman’s motor yacht Hilfranor, one of the little ships that took part in the Dunkirk landings. We have converted several boats from petrol to electric motors.
Other highlights have been the successful construction of a floating clubhouse for the Nancy Oldfield Trust, which provides the opportunity for people who are disabled or disadvantaged to enjoy a day out on the water. We have also converted numerous craft from petrol to electric, including the Brooms clinker- built launch Annie, and undertook the full restoration of the Brook launch Gemma. We have become such experts in the design and construction of bird-nesting rafts that they can now be found anchored in lakes, broads and rivers across the country, providing terns and other migratory birds with a safe environment in which to nest and breed.
Other memorable contracts include our comprehensive transformation of Pippin, which was essentially a wreck when it came to us, but which we lovingly restored to such a high standard that the owners decided to drop her Siesta 20 title and rechristen her a ‘Cox’s Classic 20’! And of course, we thoroughly enjoyed the comprehensive repair and upgrading of several traditional Broads’ sailing boats, as well as all the white half-decker sailing boats we have worked on over the past quarter of a century.
Then who could forget the contract to lift the sunken tugboat The Lady Mary from the bottom of the river at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station? We had to organise the closure of a main road to install a large crane, instruct specialist dive teams and arrange special lifting equipment to firstly right the boat on the riverbed and then lift and transport her back to our workshop.
Apart from the many individual projects which we have been proud to complete, organisations such as the Broads’ Authority, Environment Agency, Natural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk Police and the RSPB all now rely on us to keep their vessels afloat and in prime condition. Today’s modern, busy and well-maintained boatyard is very different to the one that used to exist here, but we are extremely proud of the journey we have undertaken over the past 25 years and we are looking forward to a vibrant and bright future in this beautiful part of the Broads.