Category Archives: History

Boatbuilding Academy student’s boat gets pride of place at the NMM

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Boatbuilding Academy staff and students are brimming with pride because graduate Marc Chivers’ full-size replica of an early 20th century pilot punt is now the centre-piece of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London. (See more photos of Marc’s boat here.)

The exhibition, The Boats That Built Britain, explores our island nation’s intimate connection to the sea through great maritime stories from the 15th to 20th centuries, and is running in conjunction with the BBC4 series Sea Fever.

The show’s being staged in partnership with National Historic Ships and is accompanied by a series of interesting-sounding lectures – read more about the show here. It runs from the 8th May until November, and I gather a podcast interview with Marc will appear on the Museum website shortly.

The TV series is well worth watching, even if Tom Cunliffe’s somewhat presentation is at times a bit to gung-ho and even and at times a mite misleading. (British sailors had struggled to deal with Barbary pirates whose ships went well to windward long before the Pickle see an earlier post on this issue, but TC chose to over-simplicate that point.) No doubt hyped-up presentation is the modern way and just what the production folks wanted.

These trifles apart, these shows are still well worth half an hour of anyone’s time. The Sea Fever programmes telling the story of HMS Pickle and the Matthew are on the BBC iPlayer as I write, if you can get them directly or via a proxy.

Marc’s boat, Defiant of Lyme Regis, was built as part of the BBA’s 38-week boatbuilding course. I gather Marc lives just a few miles away from us in Kent – so I must try to meet him some time. His website, which includes the story of how he transported Defiant to the exhibition, is at http://www.marcsboats.co.uk.

Particular thanks to Emma Brice at the BBA at Lyme for the story and photos.

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A 1930s precursor to the Classic Day Boat or Chichester Harbour 18?

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Bosham, CH18, chichester harbour 18, classic day boat, edward beaumont, George Weeks, sailing dinghy, racing dinghy, 1930s

Edward Beaumont has found a home for his Western Skiff – and has sent me this photo in return for putting out his appeal for a home for it.

The photo is of his aunt Betty and grandfather George Weeks sailing Witch at Bosham in the 1930s.

George was honorary secretary of the sailing club there, and from the photo seems to have won a lot of prizes. Edward says that as a youngster he was told the boat was a West Country One Design, and says he thinks the boat in the photo is clearly about 18 feet overall, and likely to have had a heavy centreboard similar to Thames Estuary One Design and of course, the early National Eighteens.

Edward’s grandfather became ill and died before he was born and the family does not know what happened to the boat – there were several similar boats in Chichester Harbour at the time and a local class of Chichester Harbour 18-footers emerged.

One of the older survivors is a boat called Scandal, but more recently the class has been re-established, with what Edward says is a GRP boat built by Flight Marine (see them here – they’re nice boats, even if they are GRP). He also says there are good photos of some of the older boats on the Bosham Sailing Club’s gallery.

If anyone would like to add to this story, please do – using either the comment link below or by writing to me at gmatkin@gmail.com.

The Life-boat and its Work, a history from 1911

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‘It is impossible to assign to any one person the merit of inventing the Life-Boat’

Based on a 1910 Royal Society of Arts lecture, Sir John Cameron-Lamb’s small book The Life-boat and its Work was published in the following year, and sold for the now-laughable sum of one shilling. I promised the gentlemen who look after Southwold’s historic Alfred Corry I’d scan this book, and so here’s the first instalment!

To see the rest of this series:

The Life-boat and its Work, a history from 1911 – part I

The Life-boat and its Work, a history from 1911 – part II

The Life-boat and its Work, a history from 1911 – part III

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