BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

13 November 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us

Surf Features

You are in: Cornwall > Surfing & extreme sports > Surf Features > Bilbo Dies Age 75

Bill Bailey - Photo courtesy Doug Wilson/The Surfing Tribe

Bilbo Dies Age 75

The man credited with introducing fibreglass surf boards to Cornwall and the whole of the UK, has died at the age of 75. Bill Bailey who spent most of his life in Cornwall was known by many as "the father of British surfing".

BBC Radio Cornwall's Rosie Dunkley spoke with Roger Mansfield a local surfing historian and former friend of Bill about life in the surf. Click on the link below:

A natural teacher and a man who encouraged people to follow their dreams, Mr Bailey set up Bilbo Surfboard's the country's first surfboard company, and became an expert in the art of surfboard building and design.

Roger Mansfield, former UK champion surfer, said: "I first met Bill back in 1963 when I was only 10 years old. But, by 1964 I had my own surfboard.

"Great Western Beach was my playground and to see these men standing on surfboards was just amazing. Having met Bill, I was fortunate enough to have a go."

Bilbo Surfboards produced around 12,000 boards over the next eight years, as the popularity of the sport in Cornwall began to grow.

Newquay became the hub of surfboard production, with the Bilbo boards produced from temporary buildings in Pargolla Road.

Roger Mansfield said: "We are talking about Bill's work being the beginning of the surfing industry. You could see these men on boards, but you couldn't buy them – there was no industry then – it wasn't even called a sport.

"With his background in the RAF, Bill was a technical man with much ingenuity. He enabled the beginning of the sport, that's why he is known as the father of surfing."

Originally from Somerset, Bill Bailey joined the RAF at 14 where he trained as an engineer and was posted abroad. He also worked for a time at RAF St Mawgan and then at Wheal Jane tin mine near Redruth before moving to France.

He died on April 28 following a battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife Lil, his sons Jason and Nick and his 98-year-old father George.

last updated: 13/05/2009 at 16:26
created: 13/05/2009

You are in: Cornwall > Surfing & extreme sports > Surf Features > Bilbo Dies Age 75

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy