Now developed into Henry Lloyds clothing store, this once tiny cottage at the northern end of Captains Row, Lymington, formerly housed the very first design studio of Laurent Giles and Partners, the firm of Yacht Architects and Owner’s Agents established by Jack Giles in 1927. Then the telephone number was just Lymington No 6, and telegrams were addressed to Lymington 6.
It took a year of steadfast work, the creation of many concepts and design proposals and alterations to existing yachts before Giles’ first new design commissions. These very rapidly provided the foundations and confidence to enable the firm to move the by now prominent yacht design practice to Quay Hill in 1929. It was in 1935 behind the imposing Georgian bow window, that Dick Kinnersley ordered the design for Andrillot the forerunner of the Vertue Class, and Eric Hiscock’ association with the company commenced with the creation of Wanderer II when he famously walked in and found ‘the great man himself’, and met George Gill ‘warming his transom before a roaring fire’.
Here Illingwoth and Giles knocked back and forth the ideas and innovations which formed the Maid of Malham, and later Myth of Malham and in 1948 Pocohontas, the exciting new 24 foot one design for the Royal Navy Sailing Association.
Here too Humphrey Barton; brokerage partner and founder of the Ocean Cruising Club planned his 1950 transatlantic voyage in Vertue XXXV as a route to entering the American market and rekindling public interest in the design when sales of the popular custom built wooden 25 footers began to flag. In 1951Colin Mudie; who began his illustrious design career as a draughtsman worked on the drawings of Sopranino and later joined owner Patrick Ellam aboard the 6.07 m pioneering design of ultra light displacement (ULD) racing yacht also to cross the Atlantic.
Twelve years later Giles unveiled to an incredulous marine industry the designs of the 34.1 m ULD Blue Leopard which was acclaimed as the most beautiful combination of sailing yacht, fast twin screw motor yacht and comfortable home. She was certainly the most innovative design from Jack Giles’ hand.
4 Quay Hill was sold when the firm Laurent Giles & Partners Ltd, which was established on October 29th 1938, was dissolved ten years after the death of its founder. The fabric of the building remains intact and is a prominent Grade II listed building. Within its walls the dynamics of yacht design were changed and on numerous occasions yachting history was made. But few visitors were aware that the basement that housed many of Giles’ tank test and wind tunnel models was linked by a secret passageway to the smugglers’ tunnels running from the old inns and under the High Street to the town quay.