A salmon coble at Abbotsford

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Probable mezzotint postcard showing Abbotsford on the Tweed

Jeff Cole has sent us this image of an old postcard of Abbotsford on the River Tweed. Here’s what he says about it:

‘This rather rough looking dinghy on the Tweed is probably the photographers’ transport. Originally from the patchy quality I suspect a photomezotype.

‘Note the broad stern and gunwale level thwart, single thole pins and basic oars made from a virtually flat blade attatched to a round pole. Seems to be a pad and cord to attach to thole pin, muffled oars?. Interesting lines forward and a quite heavy piece of chain. Maybe it’s a hire boat?’

Thanks Jeff. The boat is a salmon coble from rivers and estuaries of the far North East of England and the East Coast of Scotland. They’re curious looking boats with wide, flat-cut sterns, I guess to support salmon fishermen working over their sterns, and I think their odd shape may be the reason there hasn’t been a huge amount of interest interest in them. See the picture on this page: http://www.salmonboats.co.uk. It’s interesting to take a look at what the Wikipedia says about these boats compared with what it has to say about cobles in general – to my mind it rather reflects attitudes to these boats generally.

The house is author Sir Walter Scott’s impressive pile near Melrose.

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Curraghs caught in action on YouTube

Court of the Silver King curragh at Clovelly

Court of the Silver King curragh at Clovelly, seen on YouTube

I can’t remember what took me to the the Court of the Silver King website, but while I was there I learned that our salmon-admiring friends are now engaged in building their third curragh – they must be pretty experienced by now.

I also spotted a link to this YouTube clip of them rowing one of their earlier boats, and was struck by the sheer bouyancy and apparent lightness of the boat in action.

Inspired to search a little further, I found some further bits of curragh video:

Here’s a series of YouTube clips of curraghs racing.

Here’s a naomhóg rowing on the river Lee.

And I also found this nice old clip of a curragh taken in the late 1950s. It’s marred by a horrid commercial watermark, but it’s still charming.

Click here for more on curraghs at intheboatshed.net, including photos and excerpts from old books including plans.

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The Beale Park Thames Boat Show – and another shed

I was thinking today about the Beale Park Boat Show of 2005, and it occurred to me that some of you might be interested in some of the photos I brought back. Chuck Leinweber posted some of them on his excellent Duckworks e-magazine for small boat enthusiasts.

Here are my shots from 2005:


Here are my friend Chris Partridge’s from the same year. His eye was caught as much as mine was by Mike Smylie’s River Severn salmon punt :


And here’s Chris’s set from this year:


Back in 2005, why the photo of a shed at a show full of elegant boats? It’s Mike Smylie’s shed for smoking fish in his role as The Kipperman, his alter ego on a mission to convert us all to eating hand-smoked fish. They taste so good he might even win the battle one day.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s no ordinary shed. And don’t miss the coracle in the background casually trying to upstage it…

Mike’s website is at: