John Freeman passed away two days before his 96th birthday

It is with regret that we have to announce the death of John Freeman one of the pioneers of the modern marine industry.

The founder of the iconic Freeman Cruiser Range of Boats passed away peacefully at home in Devon on Friday 26th July 2013 – two days before his 96th birthday.

Mr Freeman, who led an interesting life and sparkled with energy and enthusiasm, was one of the paramount leisure craft manufacturers from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.

He manufactured over 6500 cruisers from 22ft to 41ft with a range of 27 models.

Mr Freeman was born into a farming family in 1917; he was very keen on woodwork and by the age of 12 was making poultry houses to help sustain his family.

At 17 he built his first caravan – it had a wooden frame and ‘deck chair’ canvas for the sides! He spent the war years in the RAF continuing the caravan construction while on leave and after his de-mob in 1946.

At this time polyester resin was an unknown quantity but he experimented with it during the development of his caravans. GRP caravans were very heavy and not so successful however the idea of a boat led to the first GRP production line for family cruisers with the ‘birth’ of the iconic Freeman 22 in 1957.

A revolutionary ‘ready to go’ boat

The introduction of the Freeman brand was at Olympia during the London Motor Show. Mr Freeman, at this time, revolutionised the industry by producing a ready to go, all the comforts of home, user friendly boat you could just order.

There was no longer any need to commission an architect to design or a boat-builder to construct your individual vessel.

The highest quality craftsmanship and materials were used in production to the degree of buying a tree and using the same grained veneer throughout each cruiser.

As there were very few wholesalers at this time Mr Freeman designed and manufactured his own fittings.

The continued success of the Freeman brand is owing to the fact that we are able to continue to supply virtually all of the original fittings and through the Freeman Owners Club we expect to be able to secure their future.

Mr Freeman leaves behind his wife Judy, his sons David and Oliver, and daughters Helen, Victoria and Florence.

He will be greatly missed but his inspiration will live on.

Pictures show John Freeman and his wife Judy on a Freeman 22 Mk2 in 2007