In the first of a four-part series, find out how Princess Yachts International became one of the biggest players in the motorboat world
Princess Yachts International, purveyor of motorboats with understated finesse and ability, has developed over 100 boat models in its 45-year history, establishing it as one of the most important boatbuilders in the UK.
Based on Newport Street in Plymouth, Princess has developed four huge production units in the area, totalling around 1,000,000 sq ft (94,000 sq m).
Originally known as Marine Projects, the company can be traced back to a day early in 1963 when three men set about starting up a charterboat business.
Cliff Viney, a former Merchant Navy engineer, David King and Brian Phillips, both serving Royal Navy officers decided to purchase a Senior 31 hull and deck moulding to fit out in their rented shed in Newport Street, Plymouth.
The first hull was kitted out with twin Perkins diesels and Z-drives and sold for £3400, sparking two more orders and securing the funds to begin production in earnest.
So successful was the Project 31 that Senior Marine had trouble keeping Marine Projects in hulls, and so granted the company a license to mould the hulls itself in 1968. This led to the production of the very first Princess-branded boat, the Princess 32, in 1970.
The Princess 32 also became the Marine Projects boat priced to sell via the trade. Home and overseas agents were appointed and a network of Princess dealers was established.
By 1980 David King noticed the trend towards bigger and faster craft. Designer Bernard Olesinski was invited to design a threshold Princess. The Princess 30DS was the first in a new generation of designs, which were to typify Princess styling in the 1980s. The 30DS sold over 500 between 1981 and 1989.
As in the earlier years, the 1990s saw Marine Projects expanding even more with many new boats being introduced into the ranges of motorboats and yachts, including the largest boat yet to be built at Marine Projects, the 25 Metre.
In 2000 Princess launched the flagship of its V-class range with the V65 and the new addition to the flybridge range, the Princess 50. A few years later saw the launch of the immensely popular Princess 42 to replace the 38 and 40 models.
Princess released three new models on its 40th birthday in 2006, the V65, V53, the V54. The company had grown to 1450 employees and reported sales of £140m, with exports providing the bulk of the interest. In 2007 Princess launched the Princess V45.
Today Princess manufactures a range of 20 models ranging from 42-130ft and is recognised as one of the world leaders in the boatbuilding industry.
See pictures of classic Princess motorboats from the archive.