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Ancarrow’s Landing: Former Home of the Fastest Pleasure Boats in the World

Named for legendary James River conservationist Newton Ancarrow, Manchester’s Ancarrow’s Landing is a popular fishing, boating, and mountain biking spot. But did you know it was also once home to the construction of the fastest pleasure boats in the world?

Centuries of imports and exports-and both pain and pleasure-passed through the old Manchester Docks. From coal, to cotton, to textiles, to slaves, to speedboats-they all passed through the Manchester Docks. In the 20th Century, Newton Ancarrow made the area home to his luxurious pleasure boat building endeavor-Ancarrow Marine.

Ancarrow’s boats were featured in the New York Times on January 22nd, 1964 in its coverage of the National Motor Boat Show. Mr. Ancarrow had some catchy quotes describing his speedy Consul boat model:

“This is the fastest pleasure boat in the world.’ Ancarrow said, pushing a button that lifted the hood covering the engine and supercharger. ‘You don’t have to worry about anybody going past you if you’ve got one of these.'”

A true renaissance man, here is what the VCU Rice Rivers Center had to say on their piece about Mr. Newton Ancarrow entitled The Boat Builder:

“Boat-building was a hobby-turned-business of Newton Ancarrow’s that eventually led to his passion for the conservation of the James River and documentation of native wildflowers.

Newton Ancarrow earned a chemistry degree at the University of Richmond.  He worked for American Tobacco and a company called Experiment, Inc., where he tested rocket engines. As a native Richmonder, he grew up around boats on the James River and later, on the  Rappahannock River. In 1957, he acquired a New Jersey boat building company and moved it to Richmond.  Ancarrow’s goal was to design luxury speed boats that would go 60 mph. Ancarrow boats were known for being luxurious, fast and appealed to the world’s wealthiest boaters.”

I can only imagine how incredible it would have been to see these awesome speedboats racing up and down the James River! The only thing better than that, would be to see them being made in Manchester once again.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Newton Ancarrow for helping restore a sense of pride in the James River and for championing an effort to make it clean and healthy once again. Thank you Mr. Ancarrow!




7 thoughts on “Ancarrow’s Landing: Former Home of the Fastest Pleasure Boats in the World

  1. My Uncle had one ,my Dad , a Higgins , my other uncle , a Chris , all speedboats of the mid 50s. Pops however was the fastest with a mercury police interceptor engine , pretty much unflappable, and yes she screamed…

  2. As popular as Mid-Century stuff is now, it would be really cool (and possibly quite lucrative) to see a company start building boats like that in the City again.