If you visit Walters, you will find a test patch on the wall of the old spray room. It’s where we test the guns before we start spraying a surfboard. The tip on the patch now protrudes inches off the wall – yet a layer of spray paint is just a few microns thick. That’s a lot of boards. A lot of experience.
Peter ‘Chops’ Lascelles founded the business 40 years ago.
As the Laminations surfboard factory, we enjoyed surfboard manufacture in its heyday. Building boards for international brands including Lost, Nat Young, Salomon, Cambell Brothers and Chilli as well as Chops own local brand Beachbeat (which continues today under the helm of his son Markie).
Sadly in 2013 Chops passed away. It was a huge loss to the surfing community. Chops left a positive mark on the lives of the people who knew him. He lived life full-on, wouldn’t take no for an answer and always sought new and innovative ways of doing things.
If we can take half of that spirit on to the next stage of the factories journey, we’ll be proud.
Today the factory is led by Jeremy Walter. Jeremy served a 15-year apprenticeship under the guidance of Chops. He started out sweeping the floors as a wayward 15-year-old grom. After working his way through the ranks, Jeremy eventually became the factories master glasser, developing a well-earnt reputation as one of the UK’s top surfboard finishers.
In 2005 Jeremy bought the company from Chops. Sales were flying as surfing boomed and demand for boards from local shapers was strong.
Perhaps Chops saw the future, but the change over saw the start of a tough time for UK shapers. Online retailers began to win customers who may otherwise have bought boards locally, and international super-factories working for brands with international marketing budgets won the loyalty of UK surfers.
The factories output went from being over a thousand boards a year to just a couple of hundred. What came next can only be described as a ‘shit-time’. Any sane person would have raced for the security of a regular job and a steady income. However, passion trumps right-mindedness and Jeremy stuck with it managing to keep the factory going and most importantly continuing to do what he loves.
Today, Jeremy stands as one of the UK’s most experienced board builders. A fact that is backed up by the fact that Simon Anderson (the surfing legend that invented the three fin thruster) trusts him to shape his boards in the UK.
The factory has stood in this location for 30 years. We want to do (at least) 30 more. Like any business, to survive, we need to adapt. To play to our strengths and let go of what doesn’t work for us.
We can’t compete with the pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap business model. What we can do is focus on the quality of our work, our passion for surfing and the surfboards we build.
We’re changing things up and opening the doors of the factory to welcome anyone who shapes or dreams of shaping their own surfboards.
You’ll be able to join special one-off events and taster sessions, get coaching from one of our expert shapers or just hire a bay by the hour.
We aim to create a friendly, experimental, open space that promotes the craft and craftsmanship of surfboard shaping. A space dedicated to surfer-shapers.