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MDL Marinas celebrates its 50th Anniversary

To kick off the celebrations, we’re launching a new website showcasing our vibrant history and telling the stories of those who’ve been a part of our 50-year journey.

“MDL has seen many positive changes, acquisitions, and developments since we started in the early 1970s, as well as bearing witness to the evolution of boating itself in the UK,” says our Managing Director, Michael Glanville, who joined MDL in 2006 before taking the helm in 2018.

“We’ve been at the forefront of the changes in the boating landscape since we formed in 1973, developing our network of marinas over the years in some of the most stunning waterfront locations.

“We’re now one of the biggest operators of coastal marinas in the UK, which you might find surprising when you consider our first venture was Penton Hook Marina, miles from the sea, amid the water meadows of the Thames Valley.”

Fifty years later, we offers state-of-the-art berthing, dry stack facilities and moorings at 18 coastal and inland marinas in the UK and one in Spain, creating unique waterside destinations for people to enjoy their leisure time.

Most of our marinas are now found in prime locations along the coast, but it wasn’t until 1982, almost 10 years after we formed, that we purchased our first saltwater marina – Cobb’s Quay in Poole.

Torquay came next in 1984, followed by Port Hamble, Mercury Yacht Harbour, Northney Marina, and Woolverstone Marina in 1987,” says Michael. “We added Hamble Point Marina to our portfolio in 1988, which is in such a perfect position at the entrance to the river Hamble, offering such easy access to the cruising waters of the Solent.”

With momentum gaining, we expanded our network further in 1989 when civil engineering firm Dean & Dyball accepted a takeover offer, adding Hythe Marina Village, Ocean Village and Shamrock Quay to our line-up.

Brixham Marina followed in 1990, and by the mid 90s, in terms of marina locations, we had become very much the marina group you see today, with some of our marinas playing a part in events that have gone down in sailing history and hosting some truly iconic yachts.

“In 1990, Tracy Edwards triumphantly brought home the first all-female Whitbread Round the World Race on yacht Maiden to our Ocean Village Marina. At the time, it was estimated that almost 50,000 people came to Ocean Village to witness this momentous event, which helped to turn the tide on women’s participation in sailing.”

In 1988 we created our Sail Training Awards which are designed to reward inspirational young people between the ages of 12 and 18, who have overcome adverse personal circumstances.

Run in conjunction with Ocean Youth Trust (South), the awards provide 12 spaces on board the sail training vessel Prolific and since their inception over 30 years ago, 140 young people have experienced a life changing voyage onboard Prolific.

Michael says: “The Ocean Youth Trust (South) is one of our chosen charities, and we fully support the work they do in offering exceptional experiences to young people who might not otherwise get the opportunity to be involved in sailing.

Since the pandemic, the popularity of boating and watersports has grown exponentially and we’re seeing an ever-increasing number of people coming to our marinas for the first time, whether it’s to go sailing, enjoy being by the water or stay at one of our waterside lodge parks.
Michael Glanville, Managing Director of MDL Marinas

Sustainability and care for the environment are now central to our future plans as we aim to become the UK’s most sustainable marina operator.

Supporting our ongoing #greenermarinas campaign and to further celebrate being 50, we’re going to plant 50 trees in 2023. This initiative, in conjunction with our photocopier supplier Nustream, will help the planet by offsetting our paper consumption.

Our commitment to the environment over the years hasn’t been restricted to our marinas, we’ve actively been driving positive change across the boating and leisure industries, launching our MDL Fitness ‘eco gym’ brand in 2020 and the Green Tech Boat Show in 2021.

“We’ve seen lots of positive change over the last 50 years, initially with the acquisition and development of our marinas to the expansion of our shore-based leisure offering,” concludes Michael.

“We’re delighted to welcome people to our prime waterside locations, and we hope that people will continue to enjoy their leisure time with MDL over the next 50 years and beyond.”

It's the people and their stories, that have made our journey over the last 50 years so memorable and shaped our development and our marinas. We’re keen to hear these stories, so if you have one to share, please contact Marketing Manager Maxine Lane via m.lane@mdlmarinas.co.uk.

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