We were there right from the beginning!
There has been a trade association representing leisure boat
building right from the start of the growth of yachting for
pleasure in the UK - back in Edwardian times during early
Move your mouse left and right on the images below to
explore our history.
Boat, Yacht and Allied trades Association
The commercial ship builders had their federations so, in 1913,
the Boat, Yacht and Allied Trades Association was formed. It had
some great aims:
- Promotion and protection of its members
- Promoting or opposing of legislation
- Collection of debts
- Keeping a record of County Court judgements, bankruptcies and
the names of known swindlers
By 1919, the Association had 108 Full and 74 Associate members
and a full time secretary with a salary of £150
There were tough times in the 1920's and 30's, but the
association kept going. It helped negotiate with the Admiralty for
the commission of new vessels and continued to do so throughout the
Second World War.
In 1947 the Association changed it's name to the Ship and Boat
Builders National Federation, perhaps reflecting the increased role
it was playing nationally in trying to win work for its members
repairing Britain's war ravaged infrastructure.
Life in the following decade was not easy for the Federation
with it's member's still struggling with shortages of materials and
the austere atmosphere.
First Boat Show
The association, and later the Federation, never stopped trying
to promote its members.
Since 1914, it had been putting on a joint exhibition at Olympia
with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Over the years pressure came from members to have their own show
and, in 1954, it happened. With the help of Max Aitken and the
sponsorship of his paper the Daily Express, the London
International Boat Show was born at the Empire Hall, Olympia.
There were many more to come and later National Boat Shows, the
company set up to run the BMF Shows, made a successful acquisition
of the Southampton Boat Show. Today National Boat Shows remains a
wholly owned subsidiary of the trade association.
Battling for members
In 1973, the Federation had a real fight on its hands when the
Labour Government imposed 25% VAT on boats. It did everything -
lobbied MP's, joined forces with the Royal Yachting Association to
appeal to the media - and finally got an audience with the tough
Chancellor of the day, Dennis Healey.
In the end the battle was won - a year later the rate was
halved and then later still went back to the standard rate.
All together now
Over the years, more and more companies in the marine industry
felt they should be represented by the Federation, particularly
equipment manufacturers. After some reluctance by the boat builders
this was accepted and by 1986 the Federation had become the British
Marine Industries Federation.
In 2008, the trade association for the marine industry rebranded
as the British Marine Federation, and now represents 12 regional
associations, 16 Group Associations and 1500+ members.