Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The very last Freeman 24 ever made

In response to questions I have received about our previous boat, the Freeman 24, being the last one built, I will describe why.....
This unique cruiser, our first boat when we returned to boating in 2005, was commissioned by a long established Thames boatyard, who had been a Freeman Boats main agent before they ceased building boats in the early 1980's. Their aim was to take the brand back into production, and to eventually produce a full range of sizes as per the original company. They started with this, the "24", (or more correctly the later "750"), and arranged for the bare shell to be hand laid to Lloyd's specification at Aquafibre Ltd., Norfolk, a subsidiary of Broom boats. It was then fitted out to a newer, more modern design than the original, back at the Thames boatyard, although the Freeman build quality was to be retained, with its natural sapele wood interior. The boat was marketed as The Freeman Finesse. The interior design was to be completely open plan, with 4 berths, making it feel much bigger than the original, and making it ideal for a cruising couple. It was finished just in time to be displayed at the January London Boat Show of 1985, and was later tested by "Practical Boat Owner Magazine" just prior to its second boat show appearance of the year at Southampton. As a display boat, it was fitted with every extra that was intended to be offered later as optional, such as gas warm air heating, hot water calorifier, shower, 12V refrigerator, and a full pressurized fresh water system from a stainless steel tank. It was also fitted with one of the most prestigious power units at that time, a BMW Marine 120HP, B130, petrol engine linked to a BMW mkII stern drive. The magazine test found it to be of very high quality, a match for the earlier Freemans. Having the BMW engine and a high freeboard, was not only suitable for river cruising, but also occasional coastal work. They concluded, that although good value, was also expensive, at over £14000 (in 1985) for the bare boat, no extras! Although I don't know the exact reason, I presume this had some direct impact on why the project never went further than this boat. It was the only Freeman Finesse ever built, conceived over a year after the original Freeman yard ceased production. It is a beautiful boat, remains unique today, and had a huge file of documented history relating to it's conception, build, appearances in the press and at boat shows.


The moulds were eventually sold on, and have been seen for sale on the internet within the last 5 years, although stated in need of much TLC. I have no doubt there may be other boats out there that look the same as a result, but this is the last one that had the right to be branded and marketed as a Freeman.


2 comments:

  1. Morning Peter

    She is still a wonderful boat. I am very pleased I bought her from you as my first motor boat and she has given us many hours of happy cruising ever since with friends and family. Today our granddaughters arrive and already we have our instructions that they want to spend tomorrow on Poppa's boat!!!! Get 'em whilst they are young.
    David & Cherry

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  2. Good Morning David & Cherry. We are so glad that you are enjoying the Freeman. We still have very fond memories of her, and remember her for her high quality, especially compared to more modern boats that have caravan style MDF fit outs. We hope she continues in this way for many years to come.

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