Camper and Nicholsons Boats For Sale
Since 1782, Camper & Nicholsons has been synonomous with the world's leading yachts. Today, Camper & Nicholsons International remains the global leader in all luxury yachting activities, specialising in the sale, purchase, charter, marketing, management and construction of the finest yachts... Read more
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Camper and Nicholsons Information
Since 1782, Camper & Nicholsons has been synonomous with the world's leading yachts. Today, Camper & Nicholsons International remains the global leader in all luxury yachting activities, specialising in the sale, purchase, charter, marketing, management and construction of the finest yachts in the world. Their team of dedicated sales and charter brokers, yacht managers and staff all share a passion for being at sea and possess a range of experience and knowledge far beyond anyone else in the industry.
In 1782, Frances Amos started a shipyard in Gosport across the harbour from the Royal Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth. In 1809 Amos apprenticed his great-nephew William Camper, and by 1821 the yard was building small trading ships.
As Amos had no children, in 1824 he allowed his nephew Camper to take over the lease on the yard. Camper forged strong links with the wealthy members of the Royal Yacht Squadron, positioning the business in the emergent yacht building industry. For twenty years from the launching of the cutter Breeze in 1836, Camper built up a reputation as a builder of fast yachts, favoured by a prestigious clientele. However, the defeat in the inaugural 1851 America’s Cup followed in 1854 by the outbreak of the Crimean War and the consequent cessation of yachting heralded a premature decline to Camper’s career.
In 1842, 14-year-old Ben Nicholson joined Camper’s yard as an apprentice. As there was no clear male heir in the Camper family, Nicholson had risen in the yard to become chief designer, producing the innovative 1860 design for the schooner yacht the Aline. The yacht’s racing success and subsequent orders prompted Nicholson’s further promotion and facilitated his choice as Camper’s replacement when he retired in 1863.
Camper and Nicholson
The company of Camper and Nicholson was formed in 1863, financed by both William Camper and the Lapthorn family. Nicholson undertook a 30-year programme of expansion, more than doubling the size and scale of the facilities. The design and construction of large schooners dominated the firm’s output, and Nicholson added a refit and maintenance business made possible by the expansion of the yard’s facilities.
The arrival of Ben's three sons in the firm occasioned a final name change to Camper and Nicholsons. Eldest son Benjamin made his impact through the supply of crew, drawn mainly from regional fishermen, for leisure and racing purposes to the yachts built for the rich clientele - a service that continued until 1939. Youngest son Arthur W. found his ability best applied through managing the maintenance and construction facilities of the yard, and the purchase of expansion facilities in Southampton.
Charles E. Nicholson
Middle son Charles emerged as the consummate yacht designer, able to combine elegance with speed and seamanship. In the early 1900s Charles developed a new powered craft which would enable the owners to come from their “big-boats” before and after the competitions. In 1912, Charles introduced the 15-metre design Istria with a Marconi rig, the first yacht in the world with a lightweight, laminated wood construction. This led to further developments and growing expertise in the use of lightweight materials. This ultimately led to arguably Nicholson's most beautiful sailing creation, the 1927 commissioned Vita.
Post World War I "Golden era"
In 1914 C&N had produced the world’s first large, diesel powered yacht M.Y. Pioneer. Capitalising on this, Camper and Nicholsons remained the world’s leading builder of motor yachts through to the outbreak of WWII. The largest of these motor yachts was the 1,629-tonne MY Philante built for Sir Tom Sopwith. This was the third motor yacht built by C&N for Sopwith, and after he bought the America’s Cup yacht Shamrock V from the estate of Sir Thomas Lipton in 1931, Sopwith commissioned Charles to design the 1934 J-Class yacht Endeavour, and 1936's Endeavour II.
The height of C&N was probably 1937's Cowes Week which came to be known as Charlie Nicholson’s Regatta. All the J-Class, three quarters of the 12 Metres, half the 8 Metres and many of the ocean racers were from Charles’ board, as were many of the motor yachts in the spectator fleet. And yet for all the success, less than ten percent of C&N's output during his time was racing yachts.
Post-World War II
Just prior to World War II, Charles's son John Nicholson began to assist with the design office. After the War, John's cousin Charles A. Nicholson, known as Young Charlie, sent his second son George to the Riviera to work for a friend’s brokerage firm, and persuade both owners and crews to return their yachts to the yard for winter repairs. Charles E. Nicholson continued to chair the company until his death in 1954 aged 86. In the late 1950s, Young Charlie's son Peter developed the production offerings of the company with large motor yachts and custom sailing yachts, including his own 1964 showcase yacht Rocquette. With no experience of GRP or additional yard space for production, C&N commissioned Halmatic to mould hulls for the initial Nicholson 36 yacht designed by Peter, followed by the Nicholson 32 and then 26, 38, 43, 48, 55 and 72. By the time stock production had finally ceased in 1981 of the Nicholson 32, 369 boats had been built. Other production models which made up the 1,400 boats produced during this period included: Nicholson 32 - 369 boats + 20 in Australia; Nicholson 35 - 228 boats; Nicholson 38 - 134 boats; Nicholson 33 - 120 boats
Being family owned, C&N had always had a propensity to develop subsidiaries to have complete control over production. In the 1960s Camper and Nicholsons Marinas Ltd was formed to develop old Admiralty land adjacent to the main yard. In 1961, in light of the amount of construction and refit/repair work it was generating for the home yard, George Nicholson persuaded his father to buy out his friend in the Cote d'Azur brokerage business, renaming it Camper and Nicholsons International. By this point the company had numerous offices around the Mediterranean, as well as Australia, the Caribbean, Hong Kong, Singapore and both coasts of America.
These companies plus the building and repair facilities were now held by Camper and Nicholsons Holdings Ltd. In 1972, Camper and Nicholsons Holdings Ltd formed a joint venture with investment and house building company Crest Securities Ltd., to form Crest Nicholson, and develop more former Admiralty sites. Having sold off C&N Electrical Ltd in 1974 for cash, and deciding to shut the Southampton yard, the assets of Camper and Nicholsons Holdings Ltd became part of Crest Nicholson. George Nicholson was not happy with the full merger, and left Camper and Nicholsons International to form Solidmark, which he built into a successful brokerage, consultancy and yacht management company.
In 1981, then Managing Director Tony Taylor led a management buyout of the boating companies and Camper and Nicholson Marinas, which finally cut the ties to the Nicholson family. Under the name Camper and Nicholsons Yachting, production of stock boats at custom yachts for supportive owner/share holders, including Nick Maris, continued in Gosport until 1989, when the business was bought by Campbell Laird.
In 1991, Nick Maris approached George about merging Solidmark with Camper and Nicholsons International, which George agreed to become MD of again. When George sold CNI in 2001, Nick Maris bought out the remaining share holders in Camper and Nicholsons Marinas, while Camper and Nicholsons Yachting was bought by industrialist Salvatore Ferragamo, who restarted stock production in Gosport in 2004 with a 42-foot (13 m) motor yacht. The Gosport yard finally closed in December 2005, with production moving to Scandinavia (Nautor Swan) in 2006, in light of a development offer from a joint bid by Camper and Nicholsons Marinas and Crest Nicholson.