The Parker Development
G. W. Parker & Son, established in the late 1880's and originally founded by Bill Parker's grandfather, were general builders and joiners, the family having been for several generations Master Mariner Builders and Woodworkers. It carried on trading as builders until the 1950's, when they again introduced boat building into what was at the time still a small family business.
The company commenced with the then new international '505' racing dinghy. Initially, these were cold moulded though before long they had changed to GRP construction and soon achieved their first international racing successes. Over the years, Parker built '505's have amassed an enviable list of 18 world championships as well as numerous national and European championships. Some of their customers are now household names and the list reads rather like a hall of fame in world yachting -12 metre sailors like Harold Cudmore, Edward Owen, Phil Crebbin, Chris Dickson of New Zealand,- top dinghy sailors such as Steve Benjamin, Dave Ullman of the USA, Larry Markes, Derick Farrant, Peter Colclough, Marcel Buffet, the Pajot brothers and, from the 1986 Whitbread Round the World Race, Pierre Fehlmann of Switzerland, first across the finish line.
For a number of years, the sole Parker boat was the '505', for which they had a very healthy UK and export market. However, in 1972 Parker's were appointed sole UK builders for the new Olympic class, the international '470' racing dinghy. This addition enabled them to expand their production facilities, they moved to their present site at Kirton and increased their staff. Over the years Parker's have also built, albeit in limited numbers, various yachts and dinghies such as the 'Flying Dutchman', 'Tempest' and the 'Sprinter Sports'.
In 1980, Parker's bought the building rights for the 'Lark' from John Baker, when John wanted to concentrate on the Seal range of yachts. Bill Parker having originally met both John and Pat back in 1969, during a trade mission to the USA promoting their respective dinghies, the '505' and the 'Lark'.
It was, perhaps, no surprise that in 1981, when for a complete change John and Pat were thinking of moving out of the boat building business into fruit growing, they sold the building rights of the Super Seal to Parker's. For the next ten years, the Super Seal remained in continuous production before being modified and marketed as the Parker 27. Throughout the time, Bill Parker sailed the boat regularly himself and developed a high respect for this fine, lifting-keel, high performance yacht. So much so, that he became convinced the Iifting- keel concept had an important niche in the market. Parker's therefore followed up the 27 in 1986 with the Parker 21 (derived from the MiniSeal), and in 1987 with the Parker 31 (a design originally based on the Passage Maker, but much modified). In 1990 the entirely new Parker 275 was introduced to replace the 27, and in 1993 the company launched the Parker 325, their in-house design to supersede the Parker 31 and bring their range right up to date.
However in 2009 the recession hit and orders for new boats fell to an unsustainable level so Bill Parker was forced to wind up Parker Lift-Keel Yachts and retire.