N.E.D., the son of a solicitor, was brought up in London, educated in Dulwich and in his early teens was introduced to sailing by his half brother in the “Seamew”, a two berth cutter of 17’6”LOA, kept at Burnham.
In 1908 he was part owner of “Dorothy”, a 27ft. gaff cutter, and it was in that year that he drew his first design. She was an 8 ton sloop and the first of many designs which he entered in “Yachting Monthly” competitions.
In 1910 he owned “Airlie” a 27 ft. gaff cutter, which he raced in The Crouch Yacht Club Points Cup series in the three years 1911-1913. He won the cup in each of these consecutive years, and therefore, as was customary in those days, retained the Cup permanently. For several years in the early 1900s he was a draftsman with G.U. Laws.
During the 1914-18 war he served as an R.N.V.R. Lieutenant in Motor Launches. In 1915 Miss H. Ruby White ran away from her home to marry N.E.D. and for 44 years, through thick and thin, she gave him devoted support and encouragement. They lived in Burnham from 1918 onwards. A daughter, Cherry, was born in 1922 and sadly died 1956. A son, Ted, was born in 1923.
Hard work was N.E.D.’s way of life and at all times he insisted on obedience and good discipline from his family. His design office was in the house, and as he was very sensitive about noise, the other occupants of the house had to be very quiet, even to the extent of walking about on tiptoe. During the working day he commuted to London where he was a fire insurance surveyor with The Royal Exchange Assurance, and at night he designed boats, and so when he was very busy his family saw very little of him, except when sailing together.
From 1928 to 1955 N.E.D. was the Burnham Week Handicapper. A rating system was not used in those days, and so each boat in every handicap class was given an individual handicap. In 1937 for example, there were 5 classes with a total of 55 boats. On each day he reviewed every figure and if necessary revised them depending on his analysis of the previous results and the weather forecast for that day. He did not have the benefit of a calculator, so it was a very time consuming process. Nevertheless, he was still able to find time to race his own boat. Occasionally there were complaints but N.E.D. politely told them to “try a bit harder next time.”
Some of his noteworthy commissions for local classes were:-
In 1938 a unique situation developed. A Mr. Ellis asked N.E.D. to design a boat in accordance with the Metacentric Shelf Formula. NED saw no need to follow such a theory to ensure a nicely balanced boat, but rather than lose a fee, he agrees to cooperate on condition that it was made known that the design was that of ‘B.J. Ellis & N.E. Dallimore’. The boat was ÇATANIA, the only N.E.D. design in which the Owner participated directly in “drawing the lines”.
Appointments worthy of note:-
From 1921 onwards he formed a close but unofficial partnership with William King & Sons of Burnham who built 22 of his designs. (36 if one includes all the R.B.O.D.s)
A few of N.E.D.s designs were motor cruisers, the better known ones being “Bou Sada”, “Snow Bunting”and “Melamine”, all of which had one characteristic in common, the hint of a clipper bow. Another of his motor boats was “Vanguard”, an oyster dredger, built by R.J. Prior & Son of Burnham in 1936 for Arnold Smith who gave him the three main dimensions and just one other instruction which was that she was to have a bow like “Joyce” (Harry Covington’s fine old yawl). “Snow Bunting”, Bou Sada and Vanguard took part in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and returned safely.
Several well known local personalities have had boats designed by N.E.D. for example:-
N.E.D. was very busy in 1937. He had eight of his designs built in that year.
During his 45 year career as a designer he produced 184 designs of which 58 were built, the remaining being competition design or those which failed to “bear fruit”. He had an artistic eye so that most of his boats were pretty, having a curved stem, a counter stern and, in between, a proper sheer. He also drew 191 sail plan conversions and hull modifications, and there was also a steady demand for his expertise as a yacht surveyor.
N.E.D. never owned a boat of his own design, although from 1921 to 1932 he had a beautiful double ender called “Mimosa III”, designed by G.U. Laws and built in 1903. This may have been the time when he was a draftsman with G.U. Laws and therefore may have had some influence over her shape. The next boat that he owned was, as one might expect, not only a beauty but also a most efficient sailing boat. She was Emily”(ex “Aspasia ex Ësmeranda”) a William Fife 8 metre.
He was a gifted helmsman who had an instinctive feel for a boat which he could always sail to the best of his and the boat’s ability. He particularly enjoyed sailing in heavy weather and, for example, in such conditions he sailed Emily” from Burnham to Brightlingsea and back in 4½ hours. (343miles at 7½ knots).
One of the oldest of his designs still in commission is “Kishti), a 27 ft Bermudan cutter built in 1924 by T. Jackett of Falmouth. The design which is best known locally is the Royal Burnham One Design Class which was started in 1932. The latest addition to the class was built in 1997.
He would have been very pleased to find so many of his boats in commission today, but he probably would not have been surprised because not only was he careful to ensure that his specifications were right, but also because he knew that the workmanship in the yards where the boats were built, and the materials used, were of very high quality.