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McGRUER


“McGruer’s biggest contribution ... was in hollow spars”


Top: A trainload of Gareloch One Designs in 1924 Above left: Ewing Sr and David at the sawmill Above right: James at the drawing board


include the 47ft (14.3m) Rinamara, designed by James McGruer, and the 55ft (16.8m) Cuilaun, usually based in Camden, Maine; the 1946 Kelana of Clynder, the yawls Elona and Coigach and 7-Metre class Zaleda, all designed by James in the 1960s, will also be sailing. The owner of Al Malika, designed and built for the Sultan of Zanzibar as a gift from King George V, will fly over from South Africa before continuing with his restoration of the 32ft (9.8m) sloop. Some of Ewing McGruer’s Gareloch One Designs of 1924 will also be racing, bringing the total to some 15 boats.


“I am are delighted to see the recent upsurge of interest in McGruer boats,” says Fraser Noble, a McGruer relative and owner of the company today. The size of the regatta bears out his words.


A THRIVING START-UP


The McGruers go far in Scottish boatbuilding, perhaps as far as 1296, according to a document in Inverness Library, pertaining to the building of a warship for a French nobleman. But the story began in earnest when Ewing and Gruer McGruer rented 90ft of Clyde riverbank in 1897 to build, repair and hire small rowing and sailing boats, having been taught the rudiments of cabinetry and boatbuilding by their father. The young designer Alfred Mylne was an important patron: McGruer had built an 18ft (5.5m) lug-rigged boat for


42 CLASSIC BOAT MAY 2012


him in 1896, and for the next five years every boat they built was to his design. One of these was Wyvette, a Clyde 17/19 built in 1897 that is still owned by Fraser Noble. Named for their waterline and overall length, these boats were built of pitch pine and oak with lots of sail between their 6ft bowsprit and a boom extending 8ft beyond the stern. They built to the new Fife/Watson Clyde 19/24 rule, the Holy Loch One Design plus others. Business was going well and the boats were winning races. Gruer, 17 years older than his brother, was content to run their small boat business, but Ewing wanted to expand. So, he moved west to Robertsons of Sandbank, then a small yard in Tighnabruaich, until he was able to set up on his own in premises at Clynder on the Gareloch, in 1910. The move there must have been satisfying, running a flat-bottomed puffer full-steam up the burn at Clynder, until it ran aground for unloading. Meanwhile, his father, Ewing, had been busy building a boatyard workforce. There were by now seven sons and three daughters, and Ewing made careful use of their abilities. School finished at the age of 14, and they were apprenticed to their father to learn about boatbuilding. Ewing Jr, born in 1889, showed an original and inventive mind and was sent to train with Alfred Mylne. John was a budding craftsman and stayed at Clynder, as did Andrew. William showed a skill for numbers and was apprenticed to a Glasgow accountant, James showed an


C/O FRASER NOBLE


C/O FRASER NOBLE


C/O FRASER NOBLE C/O FRASER NOBLE


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