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CoastWaterSports 2014

40 Years of Sovereign Trailers

by Pat Blake 22 Jul 2016 15:07 BST 22 July 2016

Whilst researching for the 70th Anniversary of the Merlin Rocket Class I recently spoke to Robert O'Neill who, with his brother Geoff run the Welsh Harp Boat Centre. They make Sovereign Trailers at their premises in north-west London.

It transpires that they too have a big anniversary this year as it is 40 years ago that they made their first trailer. It was a Combi trailer for a Merlin and was sold to a sailor at Cookham Reach Sailing Club.

It all started because the Welsh Harp Boat Centre were dealers for various trailer manufactures and had a lot of quality problems with one particular brand. So rather than continue returning trailers or trolleys, they brought in a part time welder and effected the repairs on site.

Sovereign specialised in manufacturing dinghy combi trailers but sold Snipe Powercraft trailers as part of their ongoing business. In the 1970's the biggest trailer ordered was a Snipe A7500 and it was delivered to Stansted airport for President Idi Amin. In the 80's Rob O'Neill found himself in Swansea High Court giving evidence after unknowingly supplying a trailer to a gang who were landing drugs on an isolated beach in Wales!

More recently they have eschewed the more dodgy aspects of their past by embracing the European directive 2007/46/EC and the need to comply with this ruling to be able to legally sell a trailer for the roads in the UK. The business had to change dramatically. Many manufactures just gave up, the huge costs involved with 'Type Approval' was the last straw. Sovereign do not make any braked trailers but have increased the range of combi trailers. Interestingly the purpose made cradles – they have cradles for most classes, and even for individual designs in development classes - were made by an ex-employee of Rondar Boats when they were based in New Milton. He would make a monthly London delivery. He is now in his 70's and still makes the deliveries but now from the West Country. Their welder Charlie, a relative youngster at 66, has worked for them for 30yrs. He appeared on the national news with other employees discussing how small companies will vote in the last General Election.

So they remain a close knit family business that has developed an excellent product.

welshharp.co.uk/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=8

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