Percy Blandford is 100 today!

Percy Blandford

‘There is a tremendous satisfaction to be had from boating, and many possible ways of going afloat, canoeing offers something special in adventure and romance and particularly the satisfaction of being skipper of your own craft. That often misquoted bit by Water Rat about there being nothing half as much fun as simply messing about in boats is perfectly true, but there is even greater fun to be had out of messing about in a boat you have built yourself.’ – Percy Blandford, Canoes and Canoeing, published in 1962

Percy Blandford, the legendary designer of boats and canoes for home building and prolific author on huge range of workshop-related topics is 100 today. Happy birthday Mr Blandford!

Percy Blandford has been living in quiet retirement for some years, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten. Amazon has many of his books on sale - he is said to have written more than 100, including many on building and using boats, including his PBK series canvas-covered canoes, various sailing dinghies and small outboard boats, and the Lysander trailer-sailer.

For us, perhaps Build Your Own Boat, An Illustrated History of Small Boats and Canoes and Canoeing are among the most important.

Plugging his name into Google reveals armfuls of recent references on forums, many photos of his boats and a few of the man himself, a site dedicated to canvas canoes that opens with the quotation above, and weblogs detailing the building of his boats. Weblogger Bill Serjeant has a few words to add here and here.

Mr Blandford also seems to be a favourite subject of his local newspaper, the Stratford Herald, and there’s even a Percy Blandford Facebook group.

I should also mention that the Lysander has its own Lysander Owners Association.

Quite a few of the Blandford plans are still available from Clark Craft in the USA – although they may be a little difficult to identify.

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall also has a page about the great man.

If anyone has memories and photos of their Percy Blandford boat building projects and their experiences with the boats that they’d like to share via this website, please send them to me at gmatkin@gmail.com. I’ll also make sure they get passed on to Mr Blandford via the family.

PS – I’d just like to convey a couple of messages from my online friends:

  • ‘Wonderful! When I was 14 and took part in a Sea Scout cruise from Discovery to France we had two Lysanders in the flotilla ..they performed the task with ease and were a good match to the 20ft GRP sailing gigs that were abundant at that time.’
  • ‘What an inspiration that man has been to generations of us – I’m still building kayaks to his designs. I wonder if the boating mags will be running tributes? Shame on them if they don’t!’
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7 Responses to Percy Blandford is 100 today!

  1. Well done Percy, goodness knows how many of us started out in one of your designs

  2. George Allan says:

    I built a PBK two seater canoe (PBK 20?) in my parents garage in the winter of 1962. The weather was so cold when I came to stretch the plastic impregnated canvas over the frame that I had to remove the dining room window of my parents house and slide the canoe inside to warm up the fabric to make it more pliable! Somewhere I have 35mm slides of the construction. I must look them out and convert them to digital images.

  3. I have known Percy for many years as a Knot Tyer, but being with him at an AGM on a boat in Bristol harbor his eyes glazed over as he looked out of a port hole, he then said to me “that’s one of my boats” I said in total ignorance “your boats” he then went on to explain he designed boats and canoes.
    Within a week I was the proud owner of a Percy Blandford canoe as my old one had just sunk.
    I could not refuse to buy the canoe advertised in the paper, when I jokingly said “is that a Percy Blandford PBK 20″ the owner said “yes how did you know” I said “I was speaking to him last week.”
    What a conversation we had.
    If you wish to see some of his knot drawings please go to my web site http://www.surreyknots.org.uk IGKT knots
    Happy Birthday Percy
    Howard Denyer Chairman International Guild Of Knot Tyers Surrey Branch

  4. Bob King says:

    Had the fun of building a P B K 15 along with my brother back 1957 in mums attic all went well until we had to bring the finished canoe down first one of us had to through the attic window and stand on top of bay window MUMS BEDROOM WINDOW MUM IN THE FRONT GARDEN shouting up at us pleased to say ALL WENT WELL had many ahappy day up and down the river DON spotbrough falls Rotherham and back also the other way hexthorpe flats HAPPY DAYS THANKS TO THE PBK 15 design

    Many thanks to Percy Blandford

  5. Mike Jones says:

    I had the pleasure of attending one of Percy Blandford’s Sea Scout leaders training courses on RRS Discovery in November 1951. What an inspiration to us all.

    Mike Jones

  6. Ciaran Folan says:

    I am so delighted to hear this news of Percy W Blandford; I’m 60 now, and built 2 of his boats in my teens in Donegal, Ireland. I built ‘Pete’ the 6ft pram dinghy aged 13 and Curlew, 9ft sailing dinghy aged 15-16, very successfully with no adult help other than funding! I still have the blueprints and the photos. It was a magical experience for me, and I would love to hear more news of this wonderful man. Thank you Percy!

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