The Fairmile Marine Company was founded by Sir (Albert) Noel Campbell Macklin (1886-1946)
Noel Macklin was christened on 01 Dec 1886 at Fremantle, Western Australia.
The rest of his life was spent in England, where he attended Eton School ( rumour has it that at school he kept a pet lion cub).
As a young man he became a big game hunter, later using his photographic skill to make a film of African wild life.
At the outbreak of WWI he volunteered for the army becoming a Captain in the Royal Horse Artillery. Wounded in 1915 he was sent back to England to recover, but was invalided out of the army. Not to miss out he recovered enough to become a Lieutenant in the RNVR serving with the Dover patrol between 1916 and 1918.
After WWI he took on many different rolls, two being the car making companies he formed called Invicta in 1925 and Railton in 1933. Both at the Fairmile Engineering Company which took its name from the name of Macklin's country estate, Cobham Fairmile in Surrey. He used the garage at his home for manufacturing and assembly. Donald Healey (founder of Austin Healey) drove an Invicta to overall victory in the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally. This was the first time a British car won the event.
As WWII approached Noel found that the Navy lacked small fast boats for anti-submarine and various other tasks. He then founded the Fairmile Marine Company at his home base.
Although the Navy were sceptical he went ahead and built his first launch which the company designed called a Fairmile A type. This was given the pennant ML 100 by the Navy.
Due to a lack of funds the Fairmile Marine Company could not operate so the Admiralty decided as it now needed this sort of craft to make it a semi-independent department of the Admiralty coordinating the supply of parts to build the vessels at boatyards around the country.
Altogether 12 of the A type launches were built. When the prototype underwent sea trials it was found to not have the sea handling capabilities the Navy required but had changed the minds of their Lordships about the requirement for this type of boat.
The Admiralty then gave Noel a design based on the A type but with a different hull design to make it more sea worthy. This became the Fairmile B, of which 833 were built worldwide, 703 in the U.K.
The unique part of the Fairmile design and construction was each boat was manufactured as separate bits by various companied throughout the U.K. The parts would be gathered into a kit and the kit despatched to a small ship yard for construction. There were about 24 different ship yards involved in kit construction in the U.K.
The B type was a great success and became a maid of all trades. This design was followed by the C type of which 24 were made all being designated Gun Boats. Then came the D type (known as The Dog Boat). These made a most formidable MGB or MTB (See Dog Boats At War by L.C. Reynolds for a glimpse of what they were like). A prototype F type was constructed but the end of the war saw her sold off and the design was forgotten. The H type Fairmile turned out to be a landing craft, these craft fell into two categories. These were the LCI (landing craft infantry) and the LCS (landing craft support).
After the war Macklin was knighted for his war effort, but the Admiralty, who had requisitioned his Cobham site, didn't return it.