Commander Evelyn George Martin OBE RNVR
1881 – 1945
The port of Brixham is used to seafaring men but Commander Martin was special. He was not born locally but, because of his parents overseas commitments, he and his siblings were “fostered” by the Hogg family who lived in the property which today is known as “The Berry Head Hotel”.
George’s childhood was spent on the quayside and harbour of Brixham and he made friends with the fisherman and was soon an experienced rower and sailor.
The family were wealthy and he had a privileged schooling going to Eaton and then graduating at New College, Oxford. As a young man he had endless opportunities. He was handsome, clever and well connected , but he decided to devote himself to the sea. He built and bought several yachts and got into international racing often being accompanied by seasoned Brixham fisherman, John Blackmore.
He soon began to win prestigious races, but the First World War interfered and he saw service with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserves earning an OBE for running operations out of Falmouth. He donated the Challenge Trophy Cup, helped plan the course around the Fastnet Rock and promptly went on to win the first race in “Jole Brise”.
World War Two meant an RNVR posting to Campbeltown where thousands of tug man were trained for rescue service and safeguarding convoys across the globe. War service finally broke George’s health and he died near Ipswich in 1945.
Clare Hoogewerf-McComb may be known to some of you. She is a regular visitor and researcher to the Museum and a member of the Martin family. Her brother has written a biography of Commander Martin and together they organised on 24th May 2013 a celebration of the life of Commander Martin at Berry Head House Hotel.
A small number of Museum staff were asked to attend and a Blue Plaque now hangs adjacent to the entrance to the hotel. In her speech to guests Clare Hoogewerf said “Although not born locally and travelling most of the world in many boats George Martin’s heart was and always will be in the place he loved most, Brixham”.