Surfmaster

Gordon Lewis successfully applied for patent protection in 1946. The first six prototypes reels were produced with Bill Gallagher’s lathe at his home work shop. The first 50 production models had no markings, the difference being that these had two cross bars instead of one. In 1947 Lewis went into partnership with Dalkeith Hilder.

In January 1949, he had ten skilled employees working for him at his King Street factory and spent £2,000 tooling up. H Dagwell was in charge of production. Thirty-five main dies and hundreds of smaller tools are needed to produce a reel, which has 63 parts, including screws. At the somewhat small factory, there is one golden rule; every tool, tin or screw must be replaced exactly where the user found it. “I insist on that rule” said Mr Hilder. “If we didn’t make sure of that, there would be a mess.” Mr Hilder’s factory, which was approaching the mass production stage, cannot meet the demand for reels. Orders came from New Zealand, Tasmania and other parts of the world. At least one reel has been used in Norway and Scotland, where it was described as being “as good as anything ever used there.” With this background, Mr Hilder might’ve been expected to be keen fishermen. Well he wasn’t. He likes flying and shooting but never got time to practise either. Hilder sold the business to Bob Conaghan in the early 1950’s. In the ten years from 1950-1960, over 50,000 Surfmasters were produced.

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