Vintage Surf meet 2018 coming soon !

Vintage Surf meet 2018 coming soon !
Free to take part
We buy interesting old boards 60s/70s/early 80s in good condition. Email . Also wanted - Surfing UK , British Surfer and Surf Insight magazines .
Above photo - copyright Rennie Ellis photographer archive

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The story of Eric & Kneetrembler surfboards

Cast your memories (or your imaginations) back to swinging London in the late 60s- mid 70s. To a small shaping room above a legendary surf shop, where a deicated kneeboarder shaped, a rock star glassed , and an artist of Eagle comics airbrushed a small number of beautiful surfboards and kneeboards called Kneetrembler.
The shaper was Eric Muchmore, the glasser John Povey from the famous band the Pretty Things, the artist Harry Wilson or 'Arry the brush have compressor will travel ! ' and the shop was of course Phil Jay's.

After seeing my blogpost about Andy's Kneetrembler kneeboard and request for info on it, I was stoked to get an email from Eric --
''my name is eric one half of tremblers the other half was Jon Povey, we used to work for phil jay when he was in london. I worked the shop, jon glassed .When we worked for Phil he had got the franchise to make Corky Carroll space-sticks  .After I'd been there a year Phil moved to north devon ,we didn't and the shop was taken over.  We used to help the new guy out, he was called Stan and hadnt surfed much, there was a little room above the shop the size of a shaping room. When i finished work i'd go and shape . Jon being artistic just loved making boards and the prettys gigged a lot at the time.  It started with kneeboards because nobody was making them and I was and still am a" halfman". The name kneetremblers i thought would be apt . The first stand-up was made for my good mate Don which he still has, if that board in the BSM has grass leaf on deck that's dons board(see photos below).
The name of shop stayed the same Jay surf shop. I think we made about six kneeboards and 5 or 6 standups. It got too much working allday  then going up to the shop till 2 or 3 in the morning and Jon was still working with the pretty things then the shop got sold; now the site is flats . We got our blanks from vitium  c . I started surfing in '62 at Perranporth  then Boscombe, then North devon '69 and still surf north devon. There was another surf shop in London at the same time as us it was near Brixton run by the other London boys who now all live in north devon. It was just called Surf shop run by  Paul blacker was Paul Moudy, lan Finley, Jeff Linacker, Jeff Gandhi and Des Patty.''
 John and Eric with their first standup Kneetremblers Inc. made for their friend Don in 1974
 Possibly the same board at the surfing museum surf meet
Eric outside the shop , 'waiting for the surf bus ' . This shows the deck of Don's board, complete with hash leaf.

 John, Eric and Phil with the first Corky Carroll space stick made at Jay's Putney factory . Around 1969.
''if your looking for rare surfboards look out for the Rodney Sumpter model. We got together with Rod to make a board for English wave sadly only two were made - one by Rod and the other by me. My one was first prize  at the southcoast surf contest74 or75? Held at Littlehampton. '' Anyone remember that board or contest ?
 Above - advert from Surf Insight mag, 1972

 Here's an enthusiastic record review on the Pretty Things by Fuz Bleakley , from Surf Insight mag, 1973 . John is on the right in the photo. Eric was in the studio when this album and their earlier lp Parachute were recorded.
Below- the album SF Sorrow by the Pretty things is one of the best of many great psych albums to be made in the UK in the late 60s. John plays sitar, plus percussion and vocals.

 Above - Andy's Kneetrembler new in the Phil Jay surfshop , and below in a similar pose and pride of place today after 40 years of ownership. There is another Kneetrembler on the bottom rack in the shop, and check the poster for Five Summer stories, which Eric still has . The photo was taken around 1975/6

''Here's another Kneetremblers standup ,the reason the fins are so thick the better the foil the better the flow which made the board really quick on takeoff .That's a kestrel airbrush on the bottom.'' The other boards were imports by Weber and Bing.
 The shop in the early 70s with Eric's camper outside. This is what the shop looked like during the kneetrembler era.
 Eric and his early Phil Jay, above and below. This was the earliest Jay logo, late 60s.

Above - on a surf trip to northern Spain with friend Mike, 1970 .Hayden spoon (now in Al's collection - its a small world !) on the roof rack.
  ''I started kneeriding after going to Biarritz with the wrong standup board, no leash and waves 5 times more powerful than English waves so I was swimming alot. Then I got on the spoon and didn't wipe -out so i started kneeriding from there.We saw an article in Surfer mag about Biarritz, thats why we decided to go . The Hayden spoon ,I bought from a flat in earls-court from an Aussie going home ,I think it was £10 . It was a pig to paddle negative buoyancy.''
The same Hayden spoon today , although the fin has got shorter since Eric's day. It is a semi spoon with a rare v bottom from 1967/8.
 Mike proning on the spoon , 1970

 Woke up one morning walked down to the beach 10 to 15 feet glass, Mike took the spoon out i took photos first wave nailed him didn't see him for 10 min or so until he dragged himself up the beach half dead lucky boy.
Eric on the inside wave at Lafetania in 1971 on his Freedom's Family kneeboard shaped by Phil Jay. The kneeboarder out back was American.

 Early days at Porthtowan in 1967 with hire board from Bilbos.
 Early 'kneetremblers' with another hire Bilbo - a bit more battered ! Porthtowan '67

John in Surfer mag in 1969 - at Canver sands.

Big thanks to Eric (better known now as EL) for all his memories and photos ! Kneetrembler was a small production label , but made some great boards and was important as one of the few surfboard factories in London. Looks like they had a great time ! John Povey if youre out there get in touch !


  1. So, a thick fin makes a board take off quicker. And an elephant just flew overhead

  2. Great post Al!
    It's brilliant to see more info on the London surf scene and the people of the time!
    Amazing history to find on your spoon!
    Would love to have lived through the 70's surfing era!

  3. hi shaper , there was a fashion for thick fins in the 70s by some makers, usually the ones that used ply to make up the fin, for instance circle one, haven etc. But of course tests on drag show that thinner foiled fins perform better. As GG was saying in the 60s

  4. A fin, like the rudder on a ship or a keel on a yacht, has no effect when that object is at rest. It only starts to operate when speed picks up. That's why tugs are used to berth liners. A fin develops no thrust at all, in fact it causes drag, so the thinner it is the faster the board goes.

  5. Great article Al - the WWW does it again !


  6. thanks Sean and Ryan, glad you enjoyed it ! All thanks to Eric

  7. Hi there, I have one of the 2 Rod Sumpter Boards!!! I don't think it has ever been used. A few garage dings but not foot compression marks or any hint of wax. I knew it was a beauty when I got it.