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Peter Nicholls and his business partner Roger Baileff  started a small company in 1971 providing welding services for large firms in Redditch. Pretty soon an abiding interest in boats led them to form Peter Nicholls Steel Boats in 1973.

It seems a long time ago now. VAT had only just been introduced, and there was the three day week to contend with early on.
Furthermore, when Harold Wilson got back into power, the new Labour government decided to increase VAT from 8% to 25% on three luxury items. These three luxury items were boats (Edward Heath was a sailor of course), fur coats and (we are not making this up) refrigerators

Needless to say with the new 25% VAT rate on boats, we did not even get an enquiry for some 4 months.

But the Company survived and prospered in the Seventies, moving in 1979 from the works in Redditch (now a Sainsbury’s car park), to a larger facility at Napton on the banks of the Oxford Canal.

This was just in time for the 1979 -81 recession. Timing is everything they say. But the company carried on and prospered again in the Eighties. While narrowboats were still built, Peter and Roger decided to build boats for wider horizons and, in 1980, the first barge, a 33ft x 10ft seagoing Thames motor sailing barge, was built at Napton.

The sea going barge production became more important to the Company and by the end of the Eighties the Company employed 12 shop floor workers including the partners.  The company also branch out into the building of small steel sea boats A 40ft x 10ft barge was built to cruise France and a lot of experience in Continental Cruising was gained in the eighties and early nineties . 

During the recession of the early Nineties, the company starting building its Huffler 35 motor sailing yacht with lifting keel and self lowering mast to allow entry into U.K. and continental wide beam waterways. During that recession the Company started to be a regular boat exhibitor at the London Earls Court Boat Show and later in the nineties at the Southampton Boat Show

In 1994 Peter Nicholls yacht Builders Ltd was formed and a little late the Company moved to its present works at Braunston marina trade centre. The Renegade range of round bilge steel sailing yachts , designed by Tony Tucker was introduced in 1997, there with the Brigand steel 25ft to 32 ft sailing cruiser and the Britainy 28 motor cruiser. 

The pleasure barge building has carried on, as has the Huffler 35, 

The years since 2000 has seen further development of the barge building and the sea boat building. A Huffler 40 was designed and built together with the design work for a Huffler 56.

The company has been building wide beam barges since the early Eighties. Recent years have seen the design of the FCN sea going Dutch barge in 2002 and its subsequent development. The Thames barge design, popular in the eighties, has been re-introduced to fulfill a need for a simple well built 45 foot barge with sea going capabilities.