Ian Hawks Memories

Prouts & The Canvey Canoe Club

From ‘Folding Boat News’ 1967:

“The Firm of G.Prout & Sons was started in 1935 by Mr G. Prout, a keen yachtman who decided to build a foldaway dinghy, which was light and could easliy be taken aboard a yacht. The folding dinghy was tried out by his two sons, Roland and Francis on a duck pond, and it was found to serve its purpose perfectly. In 1937 Mr. Prout started building the dinghies for sale and the family business had started. The War intervened and the family all joined up and the boat building was shelved temporarily. After the War the business was started again in a factory at Smallgains corner on Canvey. From then the firm grew and in 1957 a new and larger factory had to be built, to accomodate the increased production of folding boats and canoes, and now the popular catamarans, at ‘The Point‘. The limited company was formed in 1955.” More can be found in the newsletter in the Gallery at the foot of this page.

Ian by a Catamaran with Smallgains Creek Houseboats behind the 1953 Sea Wall

Ian writes…

Just read the article in last nights Evening Echo with regard to the new Canvey website and wonder if you would be interested in the following photos, taken early 1950’s.

1950’s: Houseboats moored in Smallgains Creek

These (above) are houseboats in Small Gains Creek.

Canvey Carnival 1950’s – Canoe Club Float

I live in Thundersley but worked on Canvey from 1952 until retirement, with G. Prout & Sons, Prout Catamarans and Halcons. I worked for Halcons in the office at The Point for Rodney Hall.

1950’s: Canvey Canoe Club at Canvey Carnival – Carnival Queen unknown, Ian Hawks, Sheila Vandersteen, Roland Prout, Jean Vandersteen, Francis and Erica Prout, David Souster

There are many familiar faces in the group (above) including Roland and Francis Prout, the later being my brother in law, I’m the one with the topee.

Click on the Gallery below to see more of Ian’s Photos.

Thanks Ian for sending in these wonderful Photos. If you have photos or memories about Prouts and Smallgains Creek please leave a message below or email in to cca@canveyisland.org

Comments about this page

  • Great stuff and just the sort of thing that I come to this site to see. Thanks for sharing them with us.
    I’ve started a thread on the sister site’s forum in case anyone has any more.

    By Ralph (19/04/2008)
  • Thanks Ralph – I have added your link to the Page

    By David Bullock (20/04/2008)
  • Hi

    I worked at Prouts in the late 50s early 60s. I believe the large catamaran with Ian Hawks by it is the MK1 Snowgoose [wooden] which I worked on. In the last photo the chap in the front row centre with the jumper is Trevor Bloxham. His dad worked there at the same time. The chap in the front row right with the specs is Mr Vincent [can’t remember his first name] who ran the varnish shop.

    Other names I recall – Paul Haylock, cold moulding supervisor [cigs 3d each]. Dave Poole – folding boats, still on Canvey. Lawrence Unstead. Derek Gully. The McKenna bros.

    Re houseboats in Smallgains creek, we used to play on the abandoned ones but some were still lived in up to the mid 60s.

    I was quite sweet on one of the inhabitants – Carol Hayward and went to school with her.

    By Sparrow via the Canvey.org Forum [David Bullock] (26/04/2008)
  • Have checked with Francis and the pond in question was the old horse pond opposite the old “Waggon and Horses” in Hadleigh where Geoffery Prout (his Father) rented stables for their horses and built the first folding boat in.

    By Ian Hawks (via email) (01/05/2008)
  • Hi, My husband Barry Roberts is in the photo. The tall one in the back row, 6th from the left, next to him is Peter Hamblin. Does anyone know where Pete Hamblin is now?

    By Queenie via the Canvey.org Forum (17/05/2008)
  • Hi I remember the people in the photo from my time at Prouts. The chap in the middle – Dave Bown – was a brilliant carver and carved gooses heads on the tillers of the original snow goose catamaran.

    One day I accidentally dropped a one gallon tin of varnish on his head from the overhead store and knocked him out. I was dead scared but when he came round he was very forgiving.

    By robin howie (24/05/2008)
  • A small point, I believe Robin refers to Mike Brown as the carver, who also made some very detailed models of the catamarans as seen in another added photo of him with a model of the Quasar shows.

    By Ian Hawks via email to David Bullock (25/05/2008)
  • Publicity photos taken on the Danbury pond. Models :- Christine Smith, Prout secretary, Ian Hawks with daughters Susan and Bridget.

    By Ian Hawks (28/05/2008)
  • Standing in front of and between Barry Roberts and Peter Hamblin is Terry Jenkins, my uncle.

    By Andrew Stalham (19/06/2008)
  • Rehu Moana, Maori for Ocean Spray was built by G Prout ans Sons at the Point for Doctor Lewis. His first voyage was in the 1964 transatlantic race, he came seventh. Next he sailed to the antarctic, Prouts had stengthened the bows up against ice flows. His next voyage was around the world with his wife and two daughters. he died November 2002

    By Ian Hawks (21/06/2008)
  • Good to see the old girl still gets around, I was the last owner of Rehu Moana, we bought her in 1979 when we found her rotting on a beach in Cornwall and spent two years refitting her, sadly she was lost in a storm in 1982.

    A few pics of Rehu Moana and some of the shipwreck.






    I am disabled now and can no longer sail, but I did build a model of her for the sailing simulator “Virtual Sailor”.



    By Alan Winter (29/09/2008)
  • Thanks Alan – I have added your comment as a new Page


    By David Bullock (30/09/2008)
  • Peter is back living on the Island after living in Devon for some years. He used to sell plants at the saturday boot sale when it was at the Paddocks, but I hav’nt seen him since it moved to the school. John.

    By John Buckmaster (05/10/2008)
  • The lady in the background between Erica and Francis Prout is Joan Watkins who later married David Souster (Far right on the pic) they had 2 children Judith and Jimmy and lived in a bungalow Furtherwick Avenue next door to Johnny Fisk’s large house.

    David worked in Barclays Bank on Canvey in the Long Road branch. His father was Clifford Souster the manager of the main Barclays branch, Cliff died in 1955 leaving a wife Enid who then moved to St Marys in Long Road.

    During the floods of ’53 the Souster family lived over the top of the Barclays branch and there was a story and picture of Meriel Souster taking her dog for a walk in the National Newspapers. Joan Souster (nee Watkins) owned a wool shop on Canvey and was a local JP.

    Meriel was my Mum, David and Joan my Uncle and Aunt, Clifford my grandad and Enid (Nuds) was my grandmother. In 1961 my family returned to Canvey for a couple of years. I then went to school with Judith, my cousin, at the convent.

    By Jerry Davis (07/10/2008)
  • I was looking at the photo of the Prout Bro’s staff with interest as my Grandfather was working for them back in the early 60’s until he sadly died in 1963. I know he was working on, what was then, the largest catamaran to be built. As far as I can recall he was engaged in some of the carpentry work. His name was Frank Hollebrand and I have to say that the gent in the middle of the picture (2nd row) looks very much like him but I can’t be sure. Is he one of the names missing? It’s difficult to place the ??’s to the actual faces as 2nd and 3rd rows are mixed. Does anyone remember my grandfather? He live near the boat building yard in Point Road.

    By Colin Thacker (13/01/2009)
  • Just to clarify on my last comment, my Grandfathers name was actual Rudolph Frank Hollebrand but many called him Frank. Having investigated further with family members, he actually worked in the paint shop and varnishing so if that narrows it down a bit. He lived with my Grandmother in a chalet bungalow opposite the shops at the end of Point Road where the buses turned round. I think it was called Hearts d Syre or similar. Haven’t a clue how it all looks now. I remember visiting as a child and late at night, listening to the rhythmic clang of the bell on a buoy out at sea and occasionally the low drone of a foghorn when it was bad visibility. Nostalgia reigns!

    By Colin Thacker (16/01/2009)
  • Colin Thacker.
    I remember Frank in the paint shop very well who is in the middle of the second row, it is nice to be able to put another name to the staff picture
    Ian Hawks

    By Ian Hawks (25/05/2009)
  • I worked at Prouts from 1955 until 1970 and was involved in all the boats produced in that time, I also lived on a houseboat in small gains creek from 1947 until 1959, Ian Hawks is a very good friend of mine and we met recently the first time for nearly 30 years.

    By Mike Brown (14/07/2009)
  • We have recently aquired a Prouts folding canoe, has a number B633 marked on the wood, can anyone provide us with any more information on these canoes such as
    Date built?
    What type of waters was this canoe designed for sea/river?
    Can it be stored folded?
    Can the canoe support 2 adults?
    Any tips on general maintenance
    Would normal tent canvas waterproof fluids be ok for re-waterproofing the upper canvas?
    What is the lower material, with what can we repair it if necessary?
    Hope someone can help us to put this canoe back in use
    Best regards
    Bill and Adrian

    By Bill and Adrian Shackell (23/07/2009)
  • hi
    i was given a folding prout dinghy about a year ago and i have had it on the water and its amazing. i was just wondering how the mast and sail is rigged?

    By ben (28/07/2009)
  • I am trying to find information about my Swift Catamaran built by G. Prout & Sons probably about 1962 Sail Nr. 241. I would like to restore it to its former glory, so any info or plans would be useful. Can anyone help?

    By Roy jeffery (29/07/2009)
  • Roy.
    Will have a word with Francis Prout to see if we can locate plans for the Swift. Will have a look at my collection of photos to see if there are any of a Swift that could help. Good luck with the restoration.
    Ian {01268754036}

    By Ian Hawks (02/08/2009)
  • Ian
    Many thanks, any info you can dig up will be much appreciated. My Swift has traveled a long way since it was built, it is now in Germany near the Austrian border.

    By Roy Jeffery (06/08/2009)
  • Roy,
    So far have been unable to locate any SWIFTY plans, sorry.

    By ian hawks (07/09/2009)
  • i am trying to get proof of the original price of my prout quasar 50 built in 1981 can anyone help me please?

    By danny taylor (29/09/2009)
  • My uncle Ted White who lived in Ealing with his wife and three sons had a Prout sailing dinghy which he used to sail from the London Aprentice at Isleworth. I only ever saw it once and then in its assembled state. Does anyone have a constructional drawing of it, I would love to build one. Uncle Ted was quite happy to go to sea in it and be some distance from shore.

    By Ken Hogg (29/12/2009)
  • I have lots of pictures of a Swift being built, and probably have the plans too. Roy, if you read this and are still interested, leave me a note here and I’ll get in touch.

    By Dan Levin (28/04/2010)
  • Hello Dan, yes I am still interested so please get in touch.

    By Roy Jeffery (02/06/2010)
  • We have a Prout folding sailing dinghy (red hull) looking for a good home. Last sailed late 70s, early 80s I would think, but in good condition and well-stored. Put together last year on lawn, complete with sail, and nothing fell apart! Even the canvas ‘foredeck’ is OK!

    By Sheila (07/10/2010)
  • I am Newsletter Editor of the Historic Canoe and Kayak Association and am interested in the history of Prout canoes. In the late 1950s/early 1960s we used Prout double kayaks on the Wye, and in France, Spain and Yugoslavia when I worked for PGL Voyages. PGL used Prouts on the Wye until about 1961 when Gmach fibreglass kayaks replaced them. My enquiries at Prout about 10 years ago brought little response, but the truck canopy skin allowed the boat to be stored folded provided the skin and woodwork were dry. We used the kayaks on Grade 2 waters of the Wye and on the sheltered Spanish coast, as well as up to Grade 3 rivers in Yugoslavia and France. The canoe can easily support 2 adults with camping gear General maintenance – little really, except clean off any dirt and in winter varnish the woodwork You can use tent watrproof agent to waterproof the upper canvas, or use, say Klepper rejuvinator – I live in Germany and could get this for you, but as it is highly inflammable, possibly not ok to be sent in the post. The hull material (Blue if I remember rightly) is a plastic reinforced canvas. We used to carry out repairs by stitching any long holes together and apply patches of canvas onto black bostic adhesive. This worked well and the area around the patch was cleaned up with petrol. Nowadays, I would use truck tarpaulin material with a suitable adhesive to carry out and patchwork. I do hope that the above is of value to you – you can see our website at http://www.hcka.org.uk – you may be interested in joining our Association – if so, let me know and I will have a membership form sent. I would be grateful for photographs of your kayak, showing method of inserting and retaining stretchers as well as general photos of the inside and outside of the kayak.for the Association Archive Dont hesitate to write again – sorry I only came across your enquiry today Yours is the only model of a Prout kayak I have come upon in about 20 years of

    By Tony Ford (26/11/2010)
  • I have been given a prout sailing dingy which is the same as in the the lefthand side pictures. I have had it set up and sailed it without the sail on the canal and it just needs a bit of restoration. Does anyone know how many are left or how much it could be worth? Thanks

    By Ben McGarry (23/02/2011)
  • Sheila I expect your dinghy has found a good home by now, but if not, I would love to provide one. Richard Elkan elkan.richard@gmail.com

    By Richard Elkan (24/04/2011)
  • Hi I had a Prouts red folding dinghy and when I worked at Prouts I converted it from rowing to sailing. I made all the rigging and spars and Ian Hawks had the sails made. Wonder if its the same one? Regards Sparrow

    By sparrow (25/04/2011)
  • i was chief engineer in the trawler Dorade which was arrested for poaching off Icland and the Reho moana came in to seydisfiord after been demasted and a broken coupling on her outboard we helped to put her new mast in and fit a new coupling after which we had a good drink with her crew befor she continued on her voyage this was in july 1963 and we were fined £3,700 for poaching i hope this adds to some of the history also i wonder what became of Tony Jennet as it was him i helped with the coupling yours Norman Robson

    By norman robson (28/04/2012)
  • Hi Ian. Hope all is well with you and your family. I live in Tenerife and have done for the last 16 Years.i have a 6 metre day boat plus a Spanish licence. Take care all the best from Laurie.

    By Laurence unstead (16/01/2013)
  • Was pleased to see your comments,I certainly remember you from the happy Prout days. Hope you have browsed the Canvey archive pages and seen the many photos that I have put on them. Regards Ian

    By Ian hawks (17/01/2013)
  • I am trying to trace any details of a boat, I presume, called MARIA JANE, I have a name plate from it that states that it was built by J E Brinkman & L D Unstead, Canvey Island 1965/1968. Would this be the previous contributor by any chance ? Would be please to hear of any details.

    By Robin Brown (06/01/2014)
  • hi and thanks for reading my post. I’m looking for some family members, but not sure of the names? I was told they worked there back in 1974? but not sure, the names are Ray/Raymond peters,ray Young, Ray Carter, Derek halcox, if you can help please let me know, many thanks tony…

    By Tony (13/05/2015)
  • Hi Robin Brown. I built Maria Jane with John Brinkman. I still have a picture of the launching by the side of Dauntless Slipway in Benfleet Creek…If you need any more info contact me…

    L.D. Unstead.

    By laurence unstead (31/07/2018)
  • Finally, in the Canoe Club picture I see the two Vandersteen sisters, Sheila and Jean….exactly as I remember them from the late 40’s to early 50’s, classy, intelligent girls.

    By Gerald Hudson (05/08/2018)
  • I believe the Carnival Queen in the 4th picture down is Pam Tipthorp

    By michael swanson (08/08/2018)
  • Hi Laurence Unstead, I have just read you message and it was great to find out about this boat. From the quality and size of the name plate it must have been quite some boat. It would be great to see a picture and know of any trips this boat did. Thanks for the reply Robin 

    By Robin Brown (01/03/2019)
  • Hi Robin..If you would like to contact me on messenger I will send you a picture of Maria Jane ans any other info…Laurie.

    By Laurence unstead (03/06/2019)

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