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Almarine Speed Boats
"Almarine was formed out of a partnership between Alma Components and boat designer John Neate in 1972. Jim Price and Bob Mann formed Alma Components in the mid 1950’s, arriving in Diss in 1959, having previously been based in London and needing room for expansion. They found land in Park Road, Diss in 1959 to build their factory and officially moved to the town in 1960. Alma Components expanded to employ over 300 people at its height and became a world leader in its field, making wirewound resistors and then reed switches and even buttons for the very first cash point machines.
John Neate moved to Diss in the late 1960's and designed and built the 9 foot Spitfire speedboat, having previously worked with racing cars. While developing the water jet version, he sought help from Alma Components with the electronics, and the new partnership with Alma's, then run by Jim Price and Doug Bartlett was made. A purpose built factory unit was built in the grounds of Alma Components for the new company, Almarine.
John redesigned the Spitfire, increasing the length from 9 feet, to 10 feet 6 inches to make it more seaworthy. Almarine produced these new boats the Seafire and it's water jet sister the Meteor. Buyers in Holland were their main customers and at their peak, Almarine were sending a container of thirty Seafires a month there. While at Almarine, John also designed a much bigger boat, the Javelin, which had a twin Rotax engines, was around 16 feet long and had twin UA jets. Very few were produced and we have located one in Latvia. Almarine licenced an American company, Link Leisure, to produce Seafires and Meteors in America for the American market. John Neate left Almarine to move to America in 1976 to work with Link Leisure, which due to under investment only lasted a couple of years. John then stayed in the States and worked for Shell in their new department researching composite materials for, amongst others, the aeronautical and car industries. He was recently surprised to find so much interest in the boats he produced and left behind over thirty years ago. He will be moving back to the UK in 2014 and is keen to meet up with Seafire and Meteor enthusiasts and owners.
Alma Components and Almarine were sold to an American company, Hamlin Electronics in 1976. Hamlins had no interest in building boats and sold off the moulds for the Seafires to a small local business who continued to make them on a very small scale for a few years, but with a smaller windscreen. Almarine was wound up on the 17th July 1978, so the last boat was likely to have been made in 1977. The original factory was demolished in 2007.
I now have a rather unusual craft, a Spitfire with a water jet unit. A total of only two or three Spitfires with inboard jet units were made, purely as pre-production prototypes for the Meteor. The hull is formed to fit the UA jet and had a Rotax 363 engine. The gel coat is original as well. It currently sports a Yamaha 125cc scooter engine, but that will be replaced back to the Rotax soon.
If you have any information on Spitfires, Seafires, or Meteors please contact me, and if I can gather enough information and interest I will develop this web site further."
For Seafire and Meteor owners and enthusiasts, a Facebook group has been set up, called Almarine Seafire and Meteor lovers. Click on the link, in the links page for ‘Stuarts Facebook page’, then click ‘like’ on the page, and welcome aboard ! Spitfire owners also welcome.
Some of the above data was compiled by Mr Stuart Price and I thank him for that. It was Stuart who started this very recent revival of the Almarine Boats.