The founder of C Toms & Son Limited, Charlie Toms, was born in 1889. He trained as a blacksmith and moved to Fowey to work for Mr Gordon Langman as a marine blacksmith. He met and married Louisa Kendall, daughter of a local ship’s captain, and together they moved to Polruan where Charlie started work in Slade’s Boatyard.
In 1922, when the owners of Slade’s Yard had financial difficulties, Charlie Toms decided to set up his own business. He rented a piece of land known as Newquay Dock from Fowey Harbour Commissioners where he carried out blacksmithing and general marine work.
In 1932 his son Jack Toms entered the company. Jack trained as a marine engineer at Brit Engineering Co. in Bridport.
In 1939 the firm commenced boatbuilding and carrying out repairs for the Admiralty and on 6th May 1941 became a Limited Company in the name of C Toms & Son Limited.
After the 2nd World War, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, business was challenging and the company diversified to take on house repairs. The house repair side of the business quickly expanded and during the 1950s and 1960s they built many new houses. Charlie Toms being a local preacher felt his biggest achievement during this time was replacing the stained glass round window in Polruan church.
In addition, during the early 1950s, a large Ministry of Defence (MOD) boat contract became available. Jack felt this was exactly what the company needed for the future and he tendered for and won the contract. This proved to be the start of the upward rise of the business.
In 1964 due to increased demand for new motor fishing vessels, a slipway was built in the old salt cellars adjoining Newquay Dock.
Jack’s two sons Allen and Philip joined the business at this time but sadly Charlie died in this year.
In 1966, Jack was awarded an M.B.E. for services to the MOD. Also in this year, the company purchased the neighbouring yard known as Slade’s Yard which was owned by Daphne du Maurier and run by the Hunkin family.
In the early 1970s, the house building arm of the business closed and in May 1975, C Toms & Son purchased the Bodinnick car ferry. Jack’s daughter Angela joined the company at this time.
During the 1980s, the firm successfully continued the building of both MOD and fishing vessels. Jack passed away in 1988, a few months after realising his one last remaining goal for the business which was to join the yards known as Newquay Dock, Newquay Ruins and Slades Yard to create the one site we have today.
In 1993 the company took over the running of Polruan Ferry Company which operates the passenger ferry between Polruan and Fowey.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, C Toms & Son continued to establish a UK wide reputation for building fishing boats. The company also diversified from building in wood to also build in steel and built several different types of commercial vessels.
Angela retired in 2008 and C Toms & Son is now run by Allen and his children Paul and Karen.
In 2014 the company opened a new purpose built facility including a chandlery shop and showers and launderette facilities for visiting yachtsmen.
2016 will see more development for C Toms & Son with the upgrade of the main slipway and a large extension to the main building shed. This is in response to the current demand in the fishing industry for larger and deeper vessels. It will also complete the first steel Thames barge to be built since 1930.