The Vertue Owners Association has had a somewhat creaky stop-start history, with long periods in the doldrums interspersed with extended periods of revitalisation, driven mainly by three or four energetic individuals.
It was formed in the early 1950’s, the first secretary being W E Baskett. The original aim of the association was simply to exchange information between owners, as well as to organise an annual rally of Vertues.
Around 1954, Mr Baskett suffered a serious illness, and the Association somewhat drifted until 1956, when Frank Webster, owner of V21 Hussar took over the post. Frank issued regular news sheets, covering memorable voyages, news of craft being built and other technical reports. This reinvigorated the Association for a short time but, by the mid 1960’s is had fallen into dormancy.
In 1971, David Jackson-Smith, owner of V105 took over, injecting a huge amount of energy and resourcefulness in tracking down all the owners through the Lloyds Register, and apparently sending out over 700 letters in the first year. His huge enthusiasm revitalised the Association to such a degree that, by the time Peter Woolas published his ‘Blue Book’ in 1973, it included a ‘List of Owners’, with about 90 Vertues listed. In addition to rallies, an annual dinner was held each year at the Boat Show in London,and a Vertue Owners’ Association Burgee (depicted above) was produced, costing £1, depicting a gold “V” enclosing the globe, in white. I inherited one with Drumler, in fact. Membership cost £2 per annum (approximately £21 today).
I am not sure of the next successions after that but, by the 1990’s, the post of Secretary had been taken over by Matthew Power, owner of V119 Chinita who, as well as issuing quarterly newsletters, in 1994, organised a rally at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, attended by 12 Vertues, ranging from Andrillot, Vertue No 1, to the latest GRP model. A reception was held afloat, attended by Susan Hiscock, the then President of the Association. The Vertue Owners Association at that time had a worldwide membership of fifty-six. Matthew resigned as secretary when he got married (his wife had a horse and “wooden boats and horses are not a good combination”).
At this point, in 2001, Mike Woodhouse, owner of V17 Owendo offered to start up a new website, at http://www.vertueowners.org.uk which he felt would be a lot less work for the secretary and the association could more or less run itself. I wonder if he would agree with that optimistic forecast today?! He clearly ended up working incredibly hard to build out the web site. He started by placing an advert in various online forums, asking Vertue owners to get in touch.
The aim was to have a fairly low-maintenance web site, where information could be centrally shared and collated, together with a web forum for owners to communicate with each other. You can still find that archive here – the last entry being on 19 March 2007. Mike re-assembled a huge body of information, until he too fell ill a couple of years ago, forcing him to sell Owendo, and to hand the management of the web site over to Roger Robinson, owner of V112 Raumati, in 2013
Roger has relaunched the site in July 2014 under the url www.vertueyachts.com, which is now live.