Spotlight will fall on Hayling Island’s marine industry

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HAYLING’S ‘hidden’ marine industry is to be explored and celebrated.

Paul Fisher, chairman of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, is putting the spotlight on the industry – looking at its past, present and future.

At one time, Hayling produced more than 200 boats a year and the roads would regularly see large transporters taking them off the island to exotic locations around the globe.

Although these days manufacturing has gone down, boat maintenance, marina servicing and repairs all contribute to make the industry the island’s second biggest employer after tourism.

Mr Fisher has invited leading figures from marinas and chandlers and sailing clubs from across Hayling to speak about the industry at Thursday’s residents association meeting.

He said: ‘We want to make residents more aware of this important industry.

‘Some years ago it was stated that 17 boats at the London Boat Show originated from Hayling Island and that Hayling produced over 200 boats a year of these and other designs.

‘While these figures are different now, with little boat building taking place, maintenance, marina servicing and repair all contribute to Hayling’s largest industry after tourism.

‘Most employment is in the remoter parts on the eastern side of Hayling, so this activity is often hidden from casual view.

‘However, many will have observed the large vehicles trundling their way down the island carrying some large vessels to their destinations.

‘Manufacturing on the island is now concentrated on vessels designed for the burgeoning offshore wind farm industry.

‘During the Second World War Hayling was a centre of small boat activity, mainly landing craft, and many of today’s sites exist on the same locations.’

Hayling boasts Northney Marina, Hayling Yacht Club, ABC boat builders, Wilsons Boat Yard, Mengham Rythe Sailing Club, Hayling Island Sailing Club and Sparkes Marina.

As well as boats, the island’s sailing clubs have produced some world-class sailors.

Employment on the island is also buoyed by its kite surfing industry which has just been given a boost thanks to Havant Borough Council agreeing to a kite surfing-only zone close to the fun fair, east of Chichester Avenue.

Part of the beach owned by Hayling Island Golf Club is also a privately-owned kite surfing centre.

The presentation will be made at the meeting in the United Reformed Church Hall, Hollow Lane, Mengham, at 7.30pm on Thursday.