The United Kingdom has a rich surfing heritage spanning back to the early 1900s, littered with iconic moments and legendary surfers.
But what about the UK’s surf brands, we hear all about Billabong, Rip Curl and O’Neill and very little about the businesses that make surfing their trade on our little isle.
Looking for global surf brands? Don’t miss our extensive list of the most iconic surf brands of all time.
Let’s take a look at some real homegrown UK surf brands that have played a critical role in our surfing history and continue to do so today.
Saltrock was the brainchild of brothers Angus and Ross, after returning from a surf trip to London they immediately jumped on a train down to Cornwall for their next surfing fix. After living it up for a few months they quickly realised that they needed to fund their lifestyle somehow.
With their love for surfing at the forefront of their mind, they set about creating a surfing brand. In 1988 Slatrock was born, named after their favourite surf spot in South Africa the brothers poured their time and passion into building Saltrock into the national surf brand it is today.
They started by printing t-shirts and selling them out of the boot of their surf wagon and started to grow a cult following that fiercely supported the duo and everything they stood for.
Over time company has grown into one of the most popular brands in the UK and it’s easy to see why: from their unique take on fashion, which includes everything from hats to swimwear, to their commitment to sustainability and fair labour practices, Saltrock is one company that really lives up to its name!
Fourth Surfboards is the creation of shaper and surfer Luke Hart. Shortly after its inception, it leapt onto the seen with surfboards emblazoned with the Fourth logo being seen at beach breaks, points and reefs up and down the country.
It quickly became Magicseaweed’s primary board stockist and with their early uptake of various EPS technologies, they stayed ahead of the trend, particularly when it came to high-performance shortboard and grovellers with the Snak and the Chilli Bean both being incredibly popular models.
Fourth boasts an impressive stable of sponsored surfers including big wave surfer Tom Butler and a variety of other seasoned surfers that have honed their skills on a variety of crafts from shortboards to longboards.
Fourth prides itself on handmade custom surfboards shaped by hand and made specifically for UK waves, unlike the global brands that many surfers choose to ride.
“Our passion transfers into our surfboards”Luke Hart
Head over to the Fourth Surfboards site here
Shore was established in 1982 by 23-year-old Simon Crawford in East Wittering West Sussex. With a passion for watersports Simon opened a small hut at the end of Shore Rd, it cost him £500 and was primarily focused on serving locals and visitors with windsurfing equipment for the local beach.
By 1984 Shore had outgrown its humble beginnings and moved into a retail front on the local high street. As both sales and rental started to pick up year on year Shore started to plough profits back into the business with a particular focus on wetsuits.
After no time at all Simon had to utilise even more property to keep up with the wetsuits he was selling and in turn storing.
Fast forward to 1993 and Shore got its big break when a 300square ft ex Saab showroom came up on the market. Simon dived on the opportunity that allowed him to grow his ever-expanding wetsuit empire.
Moving forward to the advent of e-commerce Shore doubled down on its efforts and shore.co.uk was born. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength cementing itself as a true UK surf brand with a rags to riches story to match.
Zuma Jay is a bit of a legend in the Bude surfing scene, priding itself as a surf shop run by surfers for surfers. One of the first surf shops established anywhere in Cornwall the UK and even Europe it has a rich heritage in UK surfing.
Zuma Jay was the establishing member of the F.S.S.S (Federation of Surfers Surf Shops) and has a deep understanding of all the surf equipment that goes through their doors.
They trade in wetsuits, surfboards new and used, surf hire and clothing with reasonable prices across the board.
If you’re in Bude I highly recommend swinging in to say ‘hi’ and checking out the boardroom that has a regular flow of eyewatering sleds that might just tickle your fancy.
Perhaps what Zuma Jay is best known for and we should all be grateful for is their in-depth daily surf reporting that saves many a surfer from turning up to sub-par surf. If the normal surf forecasts leave your head hurting they provide a quickly digestible forecast for the next few days that tells you in lamens terms the conditions you can expect when your turn up to the beach.
Circle One is, without doubt, a heritage UK surf brand. Founded in 1969 by Jeff Townsley Circle One has gone from strength to strength in the UK surf industry.
Jeff focuses on creating epoxy boards geared towards UK waves and surfers in the beginner to the amateur range with shapes ranging from fun fish models all the way through to full-length longboards, skimboards, bodyboards and stand-up paddle boards.
Alongside its board offering Circle One designs and produces its own wetsuits for all shapes and sizes. They utilise limestone neoprene to ensure you stay warm in even the chilliest of UK winters.
Way back in 1987 two surfers in the southwest of Cornwall came up with an idea that would grow into the brand we know and love today. Their groundbreaking ‘hook and loop’ watch system was an instant hit due to its sturdiness and reliability but needed a name, and then, Animal.
The brand quickly grew to incorporate clothing and aimed its sights on becoming a surf lifestyle brand that would be just as at home on the high street as it would be at your local dawn surf check.
As the brand grew they turned their hand to making the business more sustainable and now champion some incredibly forward-thinking initiatives to help reduce business’ impact on our planet.
Without a doubt the biggest hitter on this list when it comes to valuing the UK brands on this list. Magicseaweed (MSW) grew from humble beginnings to the global powerhouse it is today.
I really struggled to find much info on MSWs early beginning so I’m having to piece this together from word of mouth from various sources (most of them wholly unreliable people I spoke to in the lineup).
Founded in Kingsbridge (close to the popular surfing beach of Bantham) in 2002 by Ryan Anderson and someone else I couldn’t find the name of (apologies), MSW started by compiling weather buoys to forecast surfing conditions.
They quickly followed this offering up with access to live webcams at the majority of UK surfing beaches, a massive first for many surfers in the UK. Initially met with scepticism from many it quickly became the accepted course of action before surfing anywhere you couldn’t see directly with your eyes.
Purchased by Australian surf brand Surfstitch who is also responsible for the well-known surfing publication STAB, took on the brand in 2015 for a reported £7m quickly expanding MSW into the global market and positioning it as the number one surf forecasting tool available.
To this day MSW is still one of the largest surf forecasters in the world but has lost some market share to competitors like Surfline.
Check your local surf report here
The Board Barn
The Board Barn is located in Braunton, just a quick drive inland if you’re surfing Croyde or Saunton Sands. The Board Barn opened its door’s over 10 years ago offering a whole range of surf craft.
They wanted to offer the whole package, high-performance shortboards for the local rippers through to foamies and mini mals for visiting tourists and beginners.
Now they offer a fantastic trade-in system on boards where you can drop off your old stick and walk out with a fresh unwaxed beauty ready for the waves literally ten minutes away.
Want to learn more about the UK’s rich surfing history and the icons that were made along the way? Check out our guide on the best surfboard shapers in the UK to find out more about some of the legends that make surfboards all along our coastline.