Can anyone help with the history of AH Comben’s Nosila, built by HB Hornby?

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(Top) Nosila, (above) Nosila stern, Gadfly II in the mid-ground

This seems to be a week for folks appealing for information – but that’s just fine with us here at Intheboatshed.net Towers.

In fact, behind the scenes we seem to be making progress in discovering more of the story of Gadfly II and I hope to be able to report on that shortly. In the mean time, I’ve received the following message from Kyle Abingdon, who is working in the yard alongside with Simon Papendick.

‘Hello Gavin,

‘I too am restoring a wooden boat at the same yard as Simon. Nosila is a carvel-built Bermudan cutter, of 35 x 9.6 x 4.4ft. She was designed by AH Comben and built by HB Hornby in Wallasey in 1946.

‘The question I have is this: does anybody else have a Comben or Hornby boat – for if so I would love to see it. Apparently HB Hornby built lifeboats during the WW2, and as Nosila is very heavily built this may make sense.

‘But my reasearch on both these men and their boats has revealed only one other boat, Schalime II, which was built in 1939 and is listed in the National Historic Ships Register at http://nationalhistoricships.org.uk/index.cfm/event/getVessel/vref/1945 .

‘I enclose some pictures. The wheelhouse was added in the 1990s.

‘Cheers.

‘Kyle’

Thanks Kyle! If anyone knows any more about this boat, or indeed any Hornby boat, please let us know through the Comment link below, or email me at gmatkin@gmail.com. Also if you happen to know more about Schalime II, there’s an appeal for information on the NHSR page too.

PS Kyle reports today (Feb 4th) that he’s discovered that Wirral Council has some archive material about the Hornby company.

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15 Responses to Can anyone help with the history of AH Comben’s Nosila, built by HB Hornby?

  1. Brian Smith says:

    Hello, Gavin,

    I was interested to see the article about Hornby's and Arthur H. Comben. There was an article about A.H.Comben in Classic Boat no.121( June 1998) written by Tim Booth who is related, I think, to either Comben or the Hornby family.

    There is also material about Hornby in the Merseyside Maritime Museum collection and it would be worth contacting them.

    Finally, Dickinson was famous as a builder of racing yachts in the 1870's, building boats designed by both St.Clare Byrne and Alexander Richardson. Dickinson appears to have taken over the yard from J.Bishop who built a number of yachts in the 1850's many of which were of the American sloop type, which were popular on the Mersey at that time.

    Hope this is of interest.

    Brian.

  2. Tim Booth says:

    I saw this and contacted Kyle. AHC was my grandfather so I have a lot of his drawings and list of designs – cannot believe 1946 though, no timber for pleasure craft after the War. Will find her.

    Hi Brian – see you in Beaumaris in the summer I guess!

    Tim

  3. Tim Booth says:

    By the way, there's a 16-foot aux sloop called Firebird in Norfolk, a Mersey cutter called Zerobe on the Ijsselmeer in Holland, and a TS cruiser called Derson on the Severn. All by Comben. Probably a few more still roaming around too.

    Tim Booth

  4. Brian Smith says:

    Hello, Gavin,

    Further to Tim Booth's comments, my Lloyd's Yacht Register of 1948 tells me that Nosila was indeed built in 1946 for George S.White of Chippenham, Wilts., a member of the Parkstone Yacht Club. It's quite possible that she was started before the war but not completed until afterwards. Comben is credited with 37 designs of yachts in the register.

    My previous comment about Dickinson and Bishop does not make sense unless you also know that Hornby succeeded Dickinson.

    Not sure that we'll make Beaumaris this year, Tim.

    Brian Smith

  5. raymond hinds says:

    I am restoring a 1930 motor yacht called MATOYA designed by AH COMBEN. Matoya is one of the Dunkirk Litle Ships. I noticed a reply by TIM BOOTH to a query for another AH COMBEN yacht. If tim booth sees this would he contact me as we know of a number of boats designed by him, and would appreciate any information that he has on his Grandfather.

    Raymond Hinds.

  6. John Griffiths says:

    I was told by an ex colleague at Liverpool Museum who lives in Wallasey that craft were taken from the yard to the West Float in Birkenhead by trolley. From there boats could be craned onto the water or loaded as rail freight. Having seen where the yard was, I do not find this surprising. Hornby's also made, what were called locally, gig boats used for line handling etc in the docks on both sides of the Mersey.

    I would be interested to discuss with Tim Booth his grandfather's designs.

    John

  7. Tim Booth says:

    Raymond and John – my email address is timothy.booth@katun.com – please contact me. Regards, Tim

  8. John Griffiths says:

    Whilst this afternoon looking through the Hornby archive at Wirral I noticed that there is a photo of Nosila in the Hornby yard (Acc.No 1833 ZHH 1/67) and even more serendipitous, in a recently catalogued batch of drawings, her rigging and sale plans along with two other sketches. The archive's numbers are 1/33 for the rigging and 1/34 for the sail plan.

    The yard number for this craft, if the Hornby numbers are to be believed is 35/387 which means she may well have been planned and built before the Second World War. The drawings are obviously by AH Comben, his style is unmistakable with drawings by others in this collection standing out like sore thumbs.

  9. Mike Saward says:

    To all those requesting details/history of 'Schalime 11'. I am the current owner, refitting her at Fambridge Yacht Haven in Essex. My sister is currently researching her history and have had contact with the Hornby family, who are graciously assisting the research. Wirral archives have been contacted and kindly are also assisting in the compilation. Thus far I am in possession with early photographs together with details concerning her original owner and of the full interior furnishings. Eventually I intend to raise funding for a complete to original specification as far as is practicable, and will report details here when my research is complete and documented. I am happy to show interested parties around the yacht if I am contacted.

  10. mr G Newstead says:

    june 27th. 2012 does anyone know that INTERLUDE built by hornby and desigind by A H Comben is still on the norfolk broadsnot now in good condition, but savable she was specially designed for use on the isle of anglesey in 1938. may try to get in touch with liverpool maritime museum and see if anyoneis interested in her. she was the subject of a write up in 1938 boat papers due to her design and speed.

    • Steve Whittle says:

      I am the owner of INTERLUDE she was saved from being destroyed two years ago and now resides in Taylors Boatyard in Chester.
      I have tried to gather information about her with little success, apart from 3 photographs
      gained from the National Archive.
      Any information, plans, drawings and photographs would be very greatfully appreciated, as I intend to restore her.
      My contact details are
      stevewhittle123@aol.co.uk
      tel: 07745 576755

  11. Raymond Hinds says:

    Any one whose concerned I have just spent two days at the national archive in the Wirral, going through drawings to see if they had any drawings on my boat designed by A.H Comben build by James Husk of Wivenhoe the boat name is MATOYA. Unable to find drawings for my boat as there are so many drawings there, I did not have enough time to go through them all I saw photograghs of INTERLUDE and believe some line drawings of her were there. Could the owner of GADFLY II tell me who built her as I am drawing up a list of boats that were designed by A.H. Comben but built by other yards due to their size. I belive the line drawings of Schalime II are held at the Wirral Dr. No. 40/413. I have 6 owners of Schalime II from when she was built to the 1980. Does any one else have details of any of the Comben boats.
    Regards
    Raymond

  12. JohnG says:

    The two email addresses I have for Tim Booth do not work. Does anyone know his correct one?

    Thanks

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