Peninsula life • our heritage
Crofty industrial estate is an unassuming place; home to Gower Brewery, just outside the village of Penclawdd. Sandwiched between the North Gower road and the expansive marshland that hugs most of this stretch of coastline, you would never know how much history is hidden behind the walls of these redbrick units.
John Purton, world renowned shaper, spends most of his days still crafting boards in his workshop. It’s a chaotic space, almost frozen in time. Boards of all shapes and sizes fill the walls and rafters. The ever present smell of resin catches the back of your throat and sunbleached posters from bygone eras tell stories of their own. The inescapable dust billows out from one of the bays as JP draws the sander down the rail of a board. His hands follow the powertool, expertly feeling out the contours; a motion clearly perfected over years.
JP is a regular face seen in our Brewery Tap on a Friday late afternoon. A local band member, father and grandfather, he’s very much part of our community both in and out the water. We caught up with JP in his workshop on a sunny afternoon in July, to get an insight into his life on the Peninsula and what Gower means to him.
“I’ve always loved making surfboards. Well, I’ve always wanted to make surfboards really. I’ve been shaping for nearly 38 years now; been in the game a long time. We’ve made a lot of boards over the years. I’ve got my name around the world, a lot of people recognise our branding - I’ve had a lot of top surfers ride my boards.
But over the last few years I’ve worked a lot with Surfability developing different styles of boards for adaptive surfing down Caswell; it’s great you know!
I made my first surfboard when I was 13, it was quite an eye opener. I had no idea what to do, there was no one to ask. We had no templates. So I just drew it by hand. Someone told me it had to be seven foot and two and a half inches thick. A few powder paints in the resin for a bit of colour and we were away!
That was that. Time moved on.
But people kept asking me to make them boards and as the demand grew, I built JP surfboards. We were going to move to Cornwall, but there’s just too many fish in the pie so we decided to stay here. This is where I’m from.
Everyone thinks that the South is the best part of Gower where actually, the North is far better - when you actually see the estuary with its different moods, with the wind and the tides, the horses, the sheep, the sunsets. Yeah, it’s outstanding, I wouldn't change it.”
JP was born in Widegate, just outside of Kittle in 1956, very much a salty sea dog of Gower. We asked him to describe his life on Gower in three words:
Idyllic, simple & satisfying.
His words definitely echo the lifestyle he lives. The slower pace, rooted in community - part of something living. When he’s not surfing or covered in dust, you can generally find JP sitting outside his workshop, Gower Gold in hand surrounded by his beloved dogs.