The Collings and Bell bridgedeckers

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MAKURA, KAWHITI, TAMAROA
story & photos from Russell Ward + details & photos from Harold Kidd
In the early ’50s –1951 or so, Collings and Bell built Makura, Kawhiti & Tamaroa. They were nicely lined and all the angles were right (for a change).
MAKURA
She was built in 1949 for W D C  & C H Leighton and fitted with a 6 cylinder Chrysler Crown. They sold her to Phil Seabrook of Seabrook & Fowlds in 1957. He fitted the Nordberg a year or so later. Phil Seabrook had Billy Rogers design and build LADY DIANA for him in 1950 and fitted her with the Austin Skipper from new, replacing it with a 155hp Nordberg sleeve-valve engine in 1956 shortly before he sold LADY DIANA to Monte Winter and bought MAKURA.
Later owners were V F Adams (1966) and W G Boughtwood (1973). She’s now in Picton.
The photo of Makura I took in ’61. Fine looking ship. Note the four scuttles to stb unlike the recent pix posted of Kawhiti. Ahead of her you can see one of what I think is the Shipbuilders boats that were produced when Roy Steadman was OC. Also shown is a photo of Makura as built from the July 1951 edition of Sea Spray. Very like Tamaroa.
KAWHITI was built in 1952 for D A Wilkie, later owners J M Simpson of Beach Road, Howick (1958). Terry McAvinue owned her from 1968 to 1997 when Harold Kidd took the above colour image of her in Matiatia.
Kawhiti seems to be for sale just now and has a Ford diesel. She has a screen fitted and a flying bridge. The studious will note that the fwd screen is a three piece. The pic of Kawhiti shows her to be a straight front. Also, if I use my imagination, I can read her name.
TAMAROA was built in 1953 for A E Fisher of Whangarei with a 100hp Austin. I guess that was the 4 litre truck engine that was so refined in the Austin Sheerline.  She was sold to Dell of Whangarei and came back to Auckland in the late 90s when Harold Kidd took the above colour image in Woody Bay. Eric Stevens bought her in the late 1990’s  and the picture of her in Squadron Bay (?) c.1996 is before he did a major makeover.
Makura & Kawhiti differed in the line of the cabin tops:  Kawhiti’s had rather more camber and was sharply brought down to the coaming sides.Kawhiti had a slightly shorter raised deck fwd and has one fewer scuttle than her two sister. It was a bit clumsier than Makura’s IMOH. The picture of Makura behind the 17′ Millie II shows how this scuttle opens into the deck space behind the break in the gunwale and was thus put in purely for style to make them good looking. The guy that designed those three ships (not Alex Collings) had a good aesthetic sense. They were cool!
It was an old trick to put that extra scuttle in to give better looks –Lady Karita has the same effect. Her aft scuttle is also sham –it opens into the deck space beside the wheelhouse.
In my youth, Kawhiti was painted cream on the tops, Makura blue. Both had bright finished coamings.
Harold Kidd Update

It’s sadly true that Alex Collings had little skill in designing superstructures and did not appear to have much of a sense of humour or a sense of aesthetics (nor did his father IMHO). Are these launches too early for Peter Peel? Dave Jackson will know.

HK Update 2:

Dave Jackson was unimpressed with my slur on Alex Collings’ sense of aesthetics. Dave worked on TAMAROA and was familiar with all three of these Collings & Bell bridgedeckers. He categorically states that they are 100% Alex Collings’ designs. Peter Peel may have done some drafting work but had no hand in their design. Dave also worked on the 1957 43ft flushdecker MATIRA for N S Hopwood, again 100% Alex Collings.

 

5 thoughts on “The Collings and Bell bridgedeckers

  1. Hi I’m enquiring about Kawhiti above interested in any comments regarding build quality of her and general comments, also any recommendation re boatbuilder to inspect boats of this type and also mechanicals. Thanks in advance Marc.

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