Barry Bennett, born in 1931, began manufacturing hollow plywood surfboard and skis in the early 1950’s at Waverley in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney as a part time business. In 1956, after the introduction of the short 10’6″ plywood hollow Malibu; production began on a full time basis, yet production was limited to five boards per week. In 1958, the production was moved to Harbord, near Freshwater Beach.
He started building ply toothpicks, moved on to Okanuis after 1956, graduated to shaping balsa, and then pioneered foam blowing in Australia.
You cannot overstate Barry's influence on Australian surfing and surfboard building. A pivotal member of the legendary Brookvale Six with Danny Keogh, Gordon Woods, Bill Wallace, Greg McDonagh and Scott Dillon, Barry supported all the early manufacturers by supplying blanks, fiberglass and resin via the “pay-me-when-you-can” system, and all acknowledged their debt to him in the early years, and countless more over the decades since.
Legends have poured through the Bennett factory in Brookvale: BobMcTavish, Geoff McCoy, Nat, Lopez, and the great surfboard craftsmen of the past 40 years, names like Wayne Burton, Peter Cornish, Alan Blythe, and even Midget Farrelly, who worked at Bennett’s briefly in the mid-1960s before eventually, becoming his greatest rival in the vast Aussie foam market.
Barry was still hands-on in the Bennett factory at 180 Harbord Rd up until very recently. Barry was 91 when he recently passed away, and since the 1950s he was the backbone of the Brookvale and broader Australian surfboard building industry.
RIP: Barry Bennett. 1931 - 2022