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Alfred, along with Dan Hatcher is considered to have laid the foundations for modern yacht design. The son of boat builder Peter Henry Payne, Alfred had been in partnership with Dan Hatcher, another formidable name in the building of yachts and small workboats. Their yard was in Crabniton, a name no longer used, which was situated in the Northam area. After the partnership was dissolved they set up in adjoining yards on the same site. Payne’s yard was at No.1 Belvidere Road, whilst Dan Hatcher was at No.3, where he was also the landlord of the Yacht Tavern. Later Payne moved up river to Belvidere following a fire at his yard.
His son, Arthur Edward Payne, also became a well-known yacht designer