Known for its unique network of navigable waterways, the Norfolk Broads has been an influential area for boat building for centuries. 

It is no surprise then that for a young Kingsley Farrington, growing up close to this thriving industry would see him become entranced by it, and dedicate his life to it.

With the talented craftsman’s death on his 78th birthday, also comes the closure of one of the county’s final boat yards to offer a ‘complete’ service for the boating community. 

Kingsley Maurice Farrington was born in Norwich on June 9, 1945.  

He was the only son of Maurice Farrington, a trainee accountant at Norwich City Council, and his wife, Joan, who worked as a secretary and was a founding member of the Friends of the Norwich Hospitals charity

Kingsley never met his father as tragically he died at the end of the Second World War in May 1945. He had served in the RAF as a navigator for Coastal Command.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The hull of the Farrington 25 at Acle Station yard in 1981. Kingsley Farrington is in the

As a child, he was encouraged to be independent and at the age of seven decided to try his hand at sailing. With little money to fund this hobby, his mother sold all his toys to buy him a dinghy. 

Soon after, he joined Horning Sailing Club and sailed there every Sunday.  

Upon Bracondale School, he quickly decided that a career in boatbuilding was for him.

This was a passion that never left him, his wife, Janet, explained. 

“He didn’t have a ‘home life’ and a ‘working life’,” she said. 

“As far as Kingsley was concerned it was all one life and it didn’t matter to him whether customers - most of whom became friends - rang him at any time of the day or night to discuss their boats.

“He would spend time looking after his customers regardless of what personal issues had to be put on hold.” 

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Kingsley Farrington (left) in 1981 holding the mast

Following in the tradition of the pioneer boatbuilders of the Norfolk Broads, he completed a five-year boatbuilding apprenticeship in Wroxham

He then spent a further two years of evening classes perfecting his skills and undertaking navigation courses to gain sea experience. 

In 1972, he established his own business and Kingsley Farrington, which last traded as Kingsley Farrington Boatbuilders, was formed. 

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he worked with naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme on the development of the Farrington 25 and 30 Broads Sailing Cruisers. 

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Paying tribute to him in Classic Boats magazine, Mr Wolstenholme said: "Kingsley was a modest man who shunned the limelight and did not court publicity, but his impact on the Broadland boating scene was significant and his legacy will last for many years to come."  

During his career, he moved his workshop to the old Acle Station building but it soon became apparent that he needed bigger premises. 

It was then that sailing enthusiast, Sir Timothy Colman offered him the current premises in Whitlingham Lane, Trowse. 

A crane was acquired enabling bespoke motor cruisers, yachts and trailers to be produced.

Among his many accomplishments was a role in pioneering the switch from wood to fibreglass for Yare and Bure One Designs, or White Boats, one of the best-known and best-loved fleets of boats on the Broads.

Great Yarmouth Mercury:

While boating gave him immense joy, prioritising it over the demands of life was at the expense of his first two marriages. In 1983, however, he met Janet through his mother’s charity work. 

After many enjoyable times spent together, including Janet sailing for the first time and helping with the business, they married in 1984. They would go on to sail together every weekend both at Wroxham and Lowestoft.

She added: “He was a gentle, kind, polite and patient man with a great sense of humour, especially when it came to other peoples’ boating misfortunes on the water.

“With regret it falls upon me to wind up the boatyard and make three skilled men redundant following a lifetime of work by a unique man.”

Kingsley died after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. 


Great Yarmouth Mercury:

A celebration of life took place on Monday, July 3 at the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club where he had been commodore in 1993.  

He had also been vice commodore of the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club and a member there for 50 years.

Donations in Kingsley’s memory have raised over £2,000 for the RNLI’s lifeboat station at Lowestoft – a cause of personal importance to him having once been rescued by them.