A 22ft cruiser with a beam of 7ft 6" and draft of 2ft.
This was built between 1957 - 1963. The first boat had twin engines, but as no contra rotating engines or gear- boxes were made at this time, two different engine manufacturers had to be sought. One engine turning to the right and one to the left!
This was the first production GRP boat, Mr Freeman revolutionised the industry by producing a ready to go, all the comforts of home, user friendly boat, which you could just order. Approximately 1500, 22's were built, made with the 93A and 100E side valve engines, later the BMC Vedette and lastly the 105E Fords were used. If you look closely you will discover that there are three window designs too.
In 1964 the model was changed bringing in the new 22 which is now known as the Mk 2 (hence the previous boat is referred to as the Mk 1). The cabin was raised so that you could walk right through,- the well renowned "step in the deck" was established. As with the 22 Mk 1 there is a narrow beam version of the 22 Mk 2 at 6ft 10" wide which can also be used on the canals. This came out as the 23 was launched as in fact the MK 1 narrow beam version was introduced when the 22 Mk 2 was first produced. From 1968 the new Ford crossflow engine marinised by WaterMota was the primary power source. In 1970 the Freeman 23 was introduced, slightly squared off the length was increased to 23ft 3" (mostly in the loo area and cockpit), and the step in the deck was removed.
Some 700 of these boats were produced, some later boats had a full cabin top and saw the first step away from the traditional Mahogany interiors, with the introduction of some lighter woods. Even today a hard top can be added to all 3 models and the single lever control is also an "add on" option, the traditional Freeman davits are available for the MK 2 and 23.
The boats have four births in layout, which is basically open plan, but it can be divided into two cabins by opening the hanging locker door out across the boat. The semi displacement hull shape is a shallow-vee with a long shallow keel.
The Freeman 26 is the middle size boat in the range. The original Freeman (26's, 28's and 30's) have a wooden superstructure, but the boat generally referred to as the F 26 is shown below, at 25ft 10" with a beam of 8ft 10" and a draft of 2ft 6", it actually came in three formats and over 300 were built.
The first with no step in the deck is known as the 25 (different windows too). The first 26 had the step in the deck but with the 25 hull (a very raised prow) the later model had a rounded hull. The engines supplied were WaterMota Sea Tigers or Perkins 4107/8; although the first had Parsons engines and gearboxes, there were twin versions too. As with the 22 and 23, the 26 was changed in 1973 and "squared off" in a similar style to that of the 23 to become a Freeman 28 of which only about 60 were produced.
In 1960 the Freeman 30 was launched, the largest in the range at the time. At 30ft with a beam of 10ft 6" and a draft of 2ft 6". With 6 berths it is very similar in layout to the others, but has an aft cabin and twin engines. Although the original wooden superstructure version was available with an aft cockpit.
The Parsons Porbeagle engines were originally fitted, the Thornycroft 108hp engines (London Bus engines at the time) were used and in 1970 this model too was "squared up" a wheel house added and it became the Freeman 32, raising speeds up to 18 knots - although I've had 22 Knots (downhill!) out of one on a calm sea.
The 32 itself was drastically changed to become what is now known as the 32 MK 2. A much wider version, with a fully enclosed wheel house and a full width of beam aft cabin which allowed a sun deck above, on the stern. Around 100 of these MK 2 boats were produced.
A little known craft is the Freeman 35 which from the outside looks like a traditional 30, but is simply more spacious. Only a handful were made some with twin Cummins 212 V8 engines. It goes quite fast!
The story continues...
The New Style Freeman