Newquay vintage surf meet coming soon ....

Newquay vintage surf meet coming soon ....
We buy interesting old boards 60s/70s/early 80s in good condition. Email alasdairlindsay75@gmail.com . Also wanted - Surfing UK , British Surfer and Surf Insight magazines .
Above photo - copyright Rennie Ellis photographer archive

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Early Bilbos

Bilbo longboards are still in high demand, no matter what the condition. Perhaps more than any other these boards are evocative of the early days of 'modern surfing' in the UK, and the first company to really get its act together in Europe. Some people want to find these in perfect condition like they've just come out of the factory, others like em brown and dinged up - the browner the better in some cases ( mabye instead of brown we should say 'patina' ). But the fact remains they're still fun riders. I took mine out this morning in clean chest high waves and as always loved riding the bilbo. With their weight they truck along once theyre in trim and don't lose speed like modern boards, they just keep on going ! Once something this long and heavy hits top speed you just cant help but be hooked. One other thing- these are boards for life - mines 46 years old and still going strong.
These photos are of a Bilbo custom made for the Bantham SLSC (surf life saving club) made in around 1965 . Its got an early square fin and is finished in patriotic red white and blue topcoat, much like Rod's union jack models were a year later. The Bantham slsc was formed in 1960 by Maitland Tribe, with other local families Hurrell, Yeoman ,Hardwick and McCarthy. The board still resides at the club today. Thanks to Bantham lad Alex Williams for the photos.

You'd have thought that with all the time it took to do the lettering Bilbo could have spelt Bantham properly !



                                                           1967

Bilbo's first 'factory' mid 60s
This 10 ft Bilbo was bought some time ago at the car park at Bantham and then passed on to Pete Harding. Originally it lived under a caravan in Polzeath - hence the healthy tan. Its got the early logo for 1965 into 1966 and would have probably originally had a different fin and obviously no leash plug. One nice detail on this one is the wooden tail block which you don't see that often on Bilbos.





 
 early 1966
 Bilbos out at little fistral 1966
 Rod Sumpter, fistral 1966. photos Doug Wilson
 Rare balsa Bilbo with from left - Bill Bailey, Mick Jackman, Bob Head and Terry the bassist. Apparently Bill and Bob wrote to J.R.R Tolkein to see if he'd mind them naming their company Bilbo. And apparently he didn't.

11 comments:

  1. Good to see these boards haven't been over restored. Get them water tight, get them in the water but retain their original 'patina'!!! Don't over restore. It's all part of their history - surely that's what collecting vintage boards is about. If you want something that looks like a new board - buy a new board. Randy Rarick stay away from British boards...

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  2. Paul
    Randy is completely OTT but that does not mean true craftsmanlike restorations do not have their place - otherwise you're telling me my whole collection is................

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  3. the more extreme the restoration the more the soul of the board disappears. Somewhere in between brown and randy is good enough for me.(dont use this last sentence out of context ,it sounds a bit dodgy )

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    1. See top statement by ` Paul` - "retain the original patina". Hate to tell you this friend, but no board was ever made with a patina. They were pristine white foam & that`s how we pensioners remember them . And we don`t understand why you don`t want that too. We are firmly with `Aussie Collector` on this one.

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  4. I hear what you're saying. But once the foam is brown theres no magic way of making it pristine white again. If someones after a brand new looking 60s board the closest thing would be a recreation.

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  5. 'Orignal' patina refers to the condition in which any vintage/antique item is found before any restoration is carried out - be it an antique piece of furniture, a bronze sculpture or vintage surfboard. The patina has developed over many years and is part of the board's history. If you strip an antique piece of furniture or bronze sculpture of it's 'original' patina you are removing it's history and potentially reducing it's value. Retaining the patina is considered best practice by leading museums and galleries. Surfing is an important part of British cultural history and rare vintage boards need to be protected and conserved for future generations with sympathetic restoration. Once again - get them water tight, get them in the water but retain their original, as found patina.


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  6. starting to see us moving into a very worth while and constructive debate here, ... leave-as, repair, refurbish or restore....., often though when it comes to the 3xR's, collectors oppinion differs on what is what... and what board warrants which of the 3 R's (or leave-as...)
    Personally I prefer to leave most how I find them though I do take the wax off as it also is good way to really connect with the board..., but maybe i should leave 30-40 yrs wax on... if there is a good build up, keeps the board nice and fresh underneath....,
    But i have seen some very well done professional restos/repairs, aussie collector has been lucky enought to have had very skilled people (crafts-women i believe in some cases) work on some of his boards, and no doubt this will prolong their life, keep them true to the original.... well nearly.... ;-), and also makes them basically works of art...., feel free to dead-arm me pete when we next meet .... ha-ha

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  7. Should I have left the Harry Standbury board covered in it's Blue Gloss paint? Ha Ha
    Its Horses for courses, it's what make you feel happy with and at least they are not ending up as landfill

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    1. With basket cases recreation`s the way to go. Take your W`cst to Tris Cokes, Al, get him to scan it, & his shaping machine will make an exact copy. I`ll glass it same as the original, with open-weave cloth / wax-friendly deck, Greenough 3 fin from the original mould, repro logo, even Fitz`s signature from my files. Then you`ll get the same thrill we did when you pick up your new / old board, and paddle it out the back. The tiny word `repro` will be there too, it`s nothing to be ashamed of.

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  8. Good point from the man with the Harry Standbury,i think i know who you are. Definitely the right move ,carefully remove those bad resto s and get back to the good old original patina,ive got a mate who is an expert vintage bottle dump digger and has found some really good stuff in rubbish dumps, lets get to the landfill and dig up all those beautiful old bilbos.

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  9. That's the first really good bit of banter I've seen on the blog - opinions will always be divided but so long as you're having fun it does not really matter what you do.

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