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



(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 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 .

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



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 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.

Do you know the story of the ‘Blackwater sloop’ Gadfly II?

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Gadfly II awaiting restoration by Simon Papendick

Clacton-based wooden boat builder and restorer Simon Papendick is looking for information about a 1939 gaff sloop that he’s currently restoring. Can anyone shed any light onĀ  this boat please? If you can, please comment below, or write either to me at or to Simon at

The boat in question is named Gadfly II, and apparently the previous owner said she was a Blackwater gaff sloop and seems to have many of the same features – however, having contacted a number of sources Simon now believes she was built in Kent rather than the Blackwater, which is across the Thames Estuary, in Essex.

‘I have now got the job of restoring her to her former glory and hope to have her sailing this year. From what I have been able to find out about it, building on her began in 1939, stopped for the duration of World War II, and she was finally finished in 1945-46 and launched in 1946 for a local man in Kent.

‘The name Gadfly II appears on the list of vessels owned by members belonging to the Old Gaffer Association until the 1970s, but then drops off.’

Follow this link for gaff-rigged boats at

Simon Papendick, who runs J-Star Tuition & Boat Services, can be reached at 07799401650 and

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