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Norman boats are small glass-reinforced plastic cabin cruisers. Built in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, in England by Norman Cruisers limited of Shaw and Crompton in Greater Manchester, England. Norman Cruisers went bankrupt in the 1980s. Many examples of their product range are still in use, and can be seen on British waterways and across the world.
Norman Boats were started in 1959 by Ernie Wheeldon. The business started in Shaw Lancs. then moved to Isherwood Street in Heywood Lancs then back to a new site in Shaw. Other factories were added (Royton and Heywood) and the business expanded into manufacturing windows and windscreens for both Norman Boats and other customers under the name of North West Windows Ltd at the Heywood factory. They also made boat canopies and upholstery under the name of North West Marine Trimmers Ltd at the Padiham — Lancashire factory. At the same factory they also made boat trailers (Speedmaster Trailers) At the height of the business 1971 -1973 the business employed around 200 people (approx 120 in boatbuilding). They employed around 70 glassfibre laminators of which around 30 were female. The business ceased trading in December 1979 (The Winter of Discontent) and started again in 1980. New models were introduced: 24, 27 and 22 wide beam but the moulding shop was destroyed in a fire in 1982. This destroyed most of the moulds and the business never recovered. Some moulds were re-built and when the business finally ceased, these were sold and marketed under other names, such as the Atlanta 24. Also some designs were copied and made into hybrids. Mr. Wheeldon once estimated that around 7000 Normans were built. In the 1970s around 65% of boats were exported. Principal markets (in order of Volume) were Holland, Germany, Norway, France, Sweden. Boats in Holland were imported by Internaut of Rotterdam and were sold under the name of "Inter". Hence the 20 was the Inter620. Norman Cruisers were in the top 3 largest pleasure boat builders in the UK. (Westerley Yachts being the biggest). There is an extensive website for Norman Boats enthusiasts and owners, the Norman Boats Appreciation Society, at www.normanboats.co.uk which includes a register, a lively and interesting forum, a technical section and Norman related travelogues.
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