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The Marchwood Park Training Centre and power boats

Women train for war work at Marchwood Park House in this remarkable film which features camouflaged factories, barrage balloons, gas masks and a netball match.

Amateur film 1939 13 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


This remarkable film shows the vulnerability of Southampton's boatyards during WWII. Barrage balloons patrol the skies while buildings are camouflaged against raiders. Meanwhile, young women are seen arriving at Marchwood Park to train in boat building; from design to manufacture and assembly. They celebrate passing out with a netball game, gas-mask training and first aid practise. We then see French naval officers tour the Hythe works and a fire-hose pump in action.

Hubert Scott-Paine owned a high-speed boat manufacturing business called the British Power Boat Company. It was based in Hythe on the waters of the Solent. In 1939 he purchased Marchwood Park House near Southampton, which became a training centre for female workers. Having mobilised a female workforce during the First World War, Scott-Paine was keen to utilise the same group again once it was clear that hostilities were imminent. The company produced tenders for Imperial Airways as well as fast motor-torpedo boats. One of the company's power boat designs formed the basis for the American PT Boat Squadron, one of which, PT109, was commanded by the future President Kennedy.