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TYPES OF VINTAGE MODEL YACHTS

Sailing pond yachts is a very absorbing hobby, there are in fact many different manufacturers to choose from or collect, here are some of the most important and most desirable British model yachts that have ever been made.

Skipper Yachts.

Skipper Yachts are the most recent British manufacturer of traditional model yachts, Skipper developed a superb range of beautiful contemporary boats that were made using modern materials they certainly appealed to young and old alike and sold very well. Skipper Yachts was conceived by John Foster in 1991, using basic construction methods, at the Milton works on the River Deben estuary in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

John had originally looked at the possibilities of purchasing the Star of Birkenhead name and any useful assets, however negotiations fell through. It was decided to create a completely new range of model yachts and so initially production was a family affair, until sales increased resulting in a need for larger premises these were found in Rendlesham not far from Woodbridge, here upto 12 people were employed and became Skipper Yachts Ltd.

Skipper Yachts were carved from a solid piece of Jelutong an Asian timber then later Obeche an African hardwood carved out on an Edwardian Dutch Clog making machine. Skipper also branched out into making a range of other wooden toys like Star had done in the past.

The earliest yachts can be identified by a circular logo printed on the sail fabric and by a paper sticker placed just in front of the mast, other early features are screw eye fittings instead of the later nylon Gooseneck, and a drilled hole in the deck instead of the later nylon mast foot. The original sails were not hemmed and can fray, reinforcements were bonded in the corners to receive the eyelets. Early keel shapes also vary as designs were improved. The transom on the earliest yachts sloped aft this was changed to slope forward. The hull also changed shape they became slightly deeper. Yacht designs were tested by the Woodbridge Model Yacht Club at the Woodbridge model yacht pond.

                          Skipper Shrimp and Jumbo Shrimp

The Skipper yacht range originally included a 5 inch Shrimp and a 6 inch Jumbo shrimp, these had no keels fitted and these were toys for the bath.

                                       Skipper Baby Sailer

The original line up also included a 6 inch baby sailor this was fitted with a simple Star SY0 type keel.

                                           Skipper Chubby

 

However the range was simplified and an 8 inch Chubby was introduced and featured a pronounced rounded bow and came in various colours and printed sewn sail combinations.

                                        Skipper Contender

 

A ten inch contender with a sleeker hull was introduced and probably proved to be the most popular in the range.

                                     Skipper Deben Estuary

 

The 12 inch Deben Estuary yacht was next in the range, various hull and keel shapes are known exist for this model. These were also marketed in a self build model kit form, including a rare version for Marks and Spencers.

                                          Skipper Coastal

 

Another yacht in the range is the 15 inch Coastal, this also has undergone a few changes to the shape of the keel and hull. 

                             Skipper C13 and C18 Catamaran

The C13 and C18 Catamaran are a beautifully designed and crafted yacht, these are sought after by collectors their production run was very brief and are difficult to find. Made in two sizes of 13 inch and 18 inch these yachts were made using the early sleek hull shapes with aft facing transoms.

                                      Skipper T18 Trimaran

Another collectors item is the 18 inch Trimaran this was developed using the sleek early hull shape fitted with two pontoons created by using the hulls from the Baby Sailor. Although a beautiful design these were produced in low numbers and are now very rare.

                                        Skipper Coastal 20

A 20 inch Skipper Coastal was also manufactured this yacht sports a lined deck and indications of deck cabins and hatches.

                                      Skipper Blue Water 21

 

The flagship of the skipper fleet was the 21 inch Blue Water Ketch sporting a yawl set up with two masts and along shallow hull, the deck was lined and fitted with with a cabin and hatches. This yacht is very popular with collectors and sails well.

                                          Skipper Lightning

Little is known about this yacht it was developed in the late 1990's as a 25 inch radio control yacht with a GRP hull and an aluminium mast. Lightning was sold only in kit form, it is said that only 36 were manufactured. 

                                    Skipper Ocean Racer 32

 

The largest wooden yacht that skipper produced was the stunning 32 inch Ocean Racer this was fitted with a keel shape unlike any of the other in the range, along with a lined deck, hatches a cabin and a footwell. Its size makes this the best sailing yacht in the range, these yachts are famous for their appearance in the stunning window displays of Ralph Lauren's high couture shops in the USA.

                                     Skipper Ocean Bound

Marketed in 1996 for the launch of the first BT Challenge race as a yacht for the enthusiast the 34 inch Skipper Ocean Bound featured a GRP hull and aluminium mast, this yacht was marketed as a kit and was designed for radio control. It is believed that only 400 of these kits were produced. 

Skipper Yachts Limited was purchased by Susan Mariani in 2007, then in 2009 production was transferred from Suffolk to China and marketed by a UK toy wholesaler. The yacht range continued to be sold under the Skipper name, but the packaging changed and MDF stands were provided instead of the hardwood types previously used. Unfortunately the original high standard of craftsmanship was lost and hull shapes and paint finish was not as good as the Suffolk made yachts but they continued to sell well. Skipper Yachts unfortunately could not compete with another cheap yacht manufacturer and eventually stocks were run down and the Skipper brand that we used to love is now no longer available. A buoyant second hand market keeps these little yachts in circulation, it is still possible to find unsailed boxed examples on various auctions sites, and are occasionally sold by Britannia Pond Yachts.

Skipper C13 Catamaran, Britannia Pond Ya

Star Yachts of Birkenhead.

Star yachts originated shortly after WW1, Franz-Marie Denye sold his hand made yachts in a local shop after a short time carving his pond yachts he was able to purchase his own factory building in Marion Street, Birkenhead. From here a wide range of different yachts were manufactured. We are probably most familiar with the SY range of solid yachts and the MK Endeavour range of metal keel yachts, however a beautiful range of larger BR and SB yachts were also made including racing yachts. Some Stars are now collectable as over the years different designs and badging were manufactured. I have listed some of the more commonly found yachts below.

Star SY Solid Yacht Series available from 1932

Having a solid hull all of the yachts in the SY range were finished using various attractive enamel paint colours, they were turned on a lathe from 1939 and they were all fitted with quality hardened Sheffield Steel keels, the decks were fitted with. The Cotton sails were stamped with a black star emblem and numbered according the yachts size, they were all rigged using braided cotton cord which was adjustable using first brass bowsies then later white plastic. The masts and bowsprits were all hinged to allow the sails to be folded down when not in use a removable pin is fitted to the bowsprit bracket . A triangular display stand was also available. From around 1939 the SY series carried a square stern. The last SY yachts were fitted with coloured sails

SY00                                   5 inch                             Cat boat 

SY0                                      8 inch                             Bermuda rigged 

SY1                                       11 inch                             Bermuda rigged 

SY2                                      12 inch                            Bermuda rigged 

SY3                                      14 inch                            Bermuda rigged 

SY4                                      16 inch                            Bermuda rigged 

SY5                                      18 inch                            Gunter rigged 

SY6                                      21 inch                            Gunter rigged 

SY7                                      24 inch                           Gunter rigged

Star MK Endeavour Series

The MK Endeavour Series were all hollowed out to provide a lighter more responsive yacht and were made to a slightly higher specification than the SY series. The prefix MK refers to metal Keel. They were painted in white enamel with varnished lined decks. The mast, boom and bowsprit were originally fitted with brass ferrules but later with white plastic, instead of staples used to anchor the sheeting brass screw eyes were used. These yachts were also fitted with Luff rings to the leading edge and foot of the mainsail.  The sails were made from white cotton and carried a red printed Star emblem. From 1939 Star MK yachts carried the name Endeavour in honour of the Americas cup winner. A coloured stripe was painted both sides of the hull to indicate the yacht type. Later yachts were fitted with colour coordinated adjustable rudders. From around 1939 the MK series was made with a square stern. The last MK yachts were fitted with coloured sails

Star MK1 Endeavour         12 inch          Bermuda rigged, red stripe

Star MK2 Endeavour        14 inch          Bermuda rigged, blue stripe

Star MK3 Endeavour        16 inch          Bermuda rigged, yellow stripe

Star MK4 Endeavour.       18 inch          Bermuda rigged, green stripe

Star BR Series

Listed in the Star catalogue as a fast all weather yacht the Star BR is a pretty looking well proportioned yacht made using hollowed out pine, the deck fittings are the same as those used on the MK range but the hulls were either painted all white underside with a deep coloured band to the water line or had varnished undersides. The deck was varnished and lined. The Star BR series sails were made using white cotton and stamped using a Star emblem and number in black to denote the yacht type, they were made to have a higher aspect ratio than those in the MK series. The boom and mast were tapered and varnished, whilst the smaller yachts had collapsible rigging for ease of storage and carrying. The larger yacht had 

 removable sails and mast. A lead counterbalance weight was fitted to a wooden keel. These yachts were also named.

 

Star BR/2             Meteorite                          Bermuda rigged 21 inch

Star BR/3             Planet                                Bermuda rigged 24 inch

Star BR/4             Comet                               Bermuda rigged 30 inch

Star SB Series

The beautiful Star SB is listed as the Super edition of the Bermuda type yacht. The hollowed out hull was made of specially selected timber and was well designed possessing excellent sailing qualities. SB yachts were all painted in white enamel and fitted with a rubbing strip that was painted red. SB series yachts were fitted with rudders and a tiller the shape of the rudder changed in later years. The sails were made from white Union Silk (no longer available) with taped hemmed sails which were fitted with eyelets via Luff rings and were originally fitted with brass ferrules to the mast, boom and stay boom. The shaped wooden keel was also weighted using lead, the yachts were named using black and gold lettering. These yachts are very graceful on the water and perhaps the most widely sought after of all Birkenhead made Stars yachts

Star SB/2              Pacific Star                       Bermuda rigged 21 inch

Star SB/3              Arctic Star                        Bermuda rigged 24 inch

Star SB/4             Baltic Star                         Bermuda rigged 27 inch

Star SB/5             Western Star                     Bermuda rigged 30 inch

A suffolk made Skipper C13 Catamaran

Star SY6 Britannia Pond Yachts.jpeg

Star SY6 Southern Star, pond yacht.

Bowman.

Bowman are a fascinating and complicated company to collect, having started out just before the start of WW1, they manufactured a great range of toys including clockwork, rubber band powered, and live steam. From locomotives, and stationary engines through to speedboats and sailing yachts. Their first boat was in fact a 25 inch a rubber band powered speedboat produced in London. Soon their famous highly collectable clockwork and steam powered speed boats were produced. In 1923 production was moved to Norfolk in collaboration with Hobbies Ltd.

The first Bowman made yachts produced were named Peewit and Ace both being made around 1926, these were marketed by Hobbies Ltd. The superb range of rubber powered Aeroboats and steam launches including the famous Miss America continued to be made until Geoffrey Jenkins had decided he could no longer take directions from the Hobbies board and parted company. He again started making his models now based in Luton but with greater detail than before. Unfortunately the company was dissolved in 1948. 

 

The Jenkins family moved to Ridlington in Norfolk, and in 1950 Geoffrey Jenkins again turned his mind to model boats, especially yachts. A large range of designs and changes were made to these yachts so it is common place for these yachts to be quite different even in the same range. The first new yacht to be named was a mid sized yacht called Dragonfly, various sizes of this design were produced in the early 1950's, until the solid hulled aquaplane was introduced. The Dragonfly series was followed in succession by the solid hulled swift and Admiral yachts. The hollow hulled 18 inch Gull and Heron were also available in the late 1950's, the Heron featured a cabin and rudder, (although variations have been found) kits were also available to make at home. Geoffrey died in 1959 and his son Max continued on with the business, in the late 1960's a vacuum formed plastic hull was introduced and was named the Olympic series. The last yacht in Bowman range was the Lively Lady, sadly Bowman closed its doors for the final time in 1982.

                               The Bowman Yacht Series

Unnamed with automatic steering              20 inches 1951

Dragonfly                                                     various from 1951

Aquaplane                                                    14-24 inches 1953-1968

Swift                                                             9-15 inches 1955-66

B18 Gull and Heron                                     18 inches 1958

Keil Kraft Gull Kit                                        18 inches 1955-60

B26 Heron                                                   26 inches 1966

Catamaran                                                   15 inches 1962

Admiral                                                         9-24 inches 1966-68

Olympic                                                        6-22 inches 1968-70

Olympic De Luxe                                         6-22 inches 1970-75

Lively Lady                                                   14 and 18 inches 1970

To complicate matters further Swift and Aquaplane yachts have upto 3 different design changes or series to look out for. There may even be more Bowman yachts out there that have yet to be discovered.

Bowman B18 Gull, Britannia Pond Yachts.j

A 1958 Bowman B18 Gull

Lines Brothers and Tri-ang.

Lines Bros Ltd did not start out in the toy boat market until 1933, introducing 3 ranges of 20 new wooden hulled yacht designs, by 1934 they had reduced the range by marketing only 8 of the quality S range. Tri angs inexperience as a yacht designer showed in the performance of their yachts. Their boats at best can only be described as cruisers the hulls were heavy and sat low in the water, however they were well-made, good-looking cutters. In 1934 it was decided to enlist the services of an experienced manufacturer and because Kellner were already selling a range of quality boats through Hamleys now owned by the Lines Brothers so Kellner became an ideal partner to work with. A range of Composite and Steel yachts was developed by Kellner.

 

Kellner held the patent for a resin-impregnated silk hull design (The forerunner to GRP). This, however, was only listed as weatherproof and if the paint was cracked or scuffed in any way water would seep into the material and soak up water and then the yacht would be ruined. Three very attractive racing yachts were produced called the K Yacht series, they were fitted with cedar decks, braine gear and a quality Bermuda rig. The light weight of the design resulted in very high performance. These yachts were manufactured until 1940 and are extremely rare today. The smaller Kellner-designed tin plate yachts continued to be made at Merton until 1953.

After WW2 had ended the Penguin brand appeared this was to market the now cheaper-to-produce plastic models that Tri-ang had been working on. However, the larger metal-bodied yachts continued in production until the late 1950's. By 1963 the Scalex brand had been introduced for the plastic-bodied yachts, the largest plastic yachts produced were the attractive Commodore and Osprey at 24 inches overall, these yachts sailed well and some were fitted with automatic steering. Tri-ang was absorbed by Hornby in 1971.

The Tri-ang yachts series

A12-18  Wood            Lugger rigged             2-18 inches long 1932

A21-24 Wood            Bermuda rigged          21-24 inches long 1932-35

B12-18  Wood.           Lugger rigged             12-18 inches long 1932

B21-24  Wood           Bermuda rigged          21-24 inches long 1932

S12-S18 Wood.          Lugger rigged             12-18 inches long 1932-35

000-4  Steel             Bermuda rigged         8.5-31.5 inches long 1934-51

K2 Elizabeth               Bermuda rigged         21 inches long 1935-40

K3 Margaret               Bermuda rigged         26 inches long 1935-40

K4 Rosemary.             Bermuda rigged         32 inches long 1935-40

X and Y series.            Bermuda rigged         18.5-21 inches long 1935-40

K10-K16                      Bermuda rigged         10-16 inches long 1936-39

14-20 Wood,              Bermuda rigged         14-16 inches long 1937-38

C16 Aluminium.          Bermuda rigged         16 inches long 1947-53

C18 Steel.                   Bermuda rigged         18 inches long 1937-40

C20-24 Steel             Bermuda rigged         20-24 inches long 1939-53

T24-69 Steel              Bermuda rigged         24-69 inches long 1937-38

No 1-2 Star made       Fishing Smack            14-17 inches long 1937-40

K12-20 Steel.             Bermuda rigged          12-20 inches long 1938-40

K24 Steel.                   Bermuda rigged          24 inches long 1938-51

000-0 Steel               Bermuda rigged         8-14 inches long 1947-53

W16-W18 Wood          Bermuda rigged         16-18 inches long 1947

C16-24 series 2 Steel Bermuda rigged         16-24 inches long 1954-59

404Y Ocean plastic    Bermuda rigged         24 inches long 1960

405Y plastic                Bermuda rigged         24 inches long 1961

410Y  plastic                Bermuda rigged         10 inches long 1960

411Y Catamaran           Bermuda rigged         13 inches long 1961

412Y plastic                  Bermuda rigged         12 inches 1953-54

430Y Neptune             Bermuda rigged         16 inches 1958-60

Penguin Yachts

410Y plastic.                 Bermuda rigged           10 inches long 1953-54

412Y plastic                  Bermuda rigged            12 inches 1953-54

430Y Neptune             Bermuda rigged            16 inches 1951-54

Scalex Yachts

H211 Gull plastic           Bermuda rigged            11 inches long 1964-67

H212 Swift                    Bermuda rigged            12 inches long 1964-72

H216 Diana                   Bermuda rigged            16 inches long 1964-72

H224 commodore        Bermuda rigged            24 inches long 1971

H312 Swift 2                 Bermuda rigged            12 inches long 1968-69

H316 Seahawk              Bermuda rigged            16 inches long 1964-66

H316 Seahawk 2           Bermuda rigged            16 inches long 1968-69

410Y plastic                  Bermuda rigged            10 inches long 1963

412Y plastic                  Bermuda rigged             12 inches 1963

430Y Neptune             Bermuda rigged             16 inches 1955-63

Tri ang Junior Series, Britannia Pond Ya

A pre 1953 tin plate 12 inch Tri-ang Junior 0 series

Suggs.

All Suggs yachts were hand carved the company first started before WW1 and very few have have survived today. They were produced by the Frank Sugg company of Liverpool and sold in Gamages stores, Stevens's Model Dockyard and also probably other stores, elsewhere. Made in various sizes and designs, including Schooners and Yawls Suggs cutters were either spoon or clipper bowed and always gaff rigged, painted with black topsides and red oxide below the waterline, the larger yachts were fitted with a topsail using a jackyard, but these are often lost. Little is known about the company, but an example exists with a deck transfer reading 'Sugg. Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London'. The Suggs company also made sports goods and traded selling sports appareil until the 1980's.

Suggs Cutters are difficult to identify but do have the following characteristics, the original set up often featured double head sails as on a full size cutter that were overlapped and loose footed. Deck fittings known as Bugg Pins were hammered in and bent over to form a loop. The deck was curved (Turtle back) to provide run off and was set into the hull which was completed with a finely made toe rail all round that tapered off to the stern. A typical feature of Suggs made yachts is the distinctively shaped adjustable raked rudder and rudder post, which was fitted with a brass tiller and sprung beneath a narrow brass horse which was given three indentations providing a center, Starboard and Port position for the helm. These rudders can also be found on early Hamleys, Lines brothers (Tri ang) wooden cutters and yachts, which does make you wonder if these yachts were in fact made by the Suggs company as well.

All Suggs Cutters were originally painted the same way, with black topsides and a red oxide below the water line. Nearly all have a very fine painted cove line around the the bilge. The decks were also lined out before varnishing except for some of the smallest yachts. The larger examples, and those with 'non standard' hulls have a light moulding fitted to act as a rubbing strake.

Suggs yachts are highly sought after rare and are delightful, well made models, they do take some getting used to when sailing, it is advised to keep the top sail taught to keep it off wind, the yacht will not self tack due to the overlapping for-sails these will need to be reset each time that you need to go about.

Suggs Cutter, Britannia Pond Yachts.jpeg

A typical larger 1920's 25 inch spoon bowed Suggs Cutter.

Albatross, by Games Industries.

The first Albatross yachts were manufactured by Games Industries of London during the 1950's and were marketed by the prestigious department store Gamages. They were well made quality yachts manufactured with hollow hulls and were offered in 3 ranges. The Q series with a fixed rudder and a keel similar to a Star MK, and then the R range fitted with a manually operated rudder.

 

The high specification De Lux series were fitted with a simple but effective form of Braine steering quadrant with a forward mounted horse for beating and reaching, the sheets led through eyelets to the tiller quadrant for running. It is interesting to note that the jib stay and boom were originally made from shaped flat sided timber as were the full size racing yachts of the day. The foot of both the jib and main sail were lashed to the stay and boom to help make the sail as efficient as possible. The main sail was attached to the mast using Luff rings. The largest yachts had fold down masts for ease of stowage. There is little known about Games Industries and their range of Albatross yachts .

The Games Industries, Albatross Yacht Series

Q14                   Bermuda rigged                    14 inches long 1952-57

Q16                   Bermuda rigged                    16 inches long 1952-57

R14                    Bermuda rigged                    14 inches long 1952-57

R16                    Bermuda rigged                    16 inches long 1952-57

R21                    Bermuda rigged                    21 inches long 1952-57

J16                     Bermuda rigged                    16 inches long 1952-57

J20                    Bermuda rigged                    20 inches long 1952-57

J25                    Bermuda rigged                    25 inches long 1952-57

J30                    Bermuda rigged                   30 inches long 1952-57

J36                    Bermuda rigged                    36 inches long 1952-57

Albatross J25 Pond Yacht, Britannia Pond

An Albatross J25 awaiting restoration in an original stand.

Albatross, by G Cornish, Paignton.

The second Albatross Yachts were manufactured by Mr G Cornish in King Ash, Road Paignton, in Devon. between 1988 and 1996  with the invaluable help of his wife Freda, who made the sails and carried out the bookwork. The first yachts were made in the garden shed at 170 Kings Ash Road, but as production increased operations were moved to an industrial unit to the rear of 36 Palace Avenue, Paignton.

The Paignton Albatross yacht series

Kathleen, wooden             Gaff rigged                          24 inch 

Kathleen, GRP                  Gaff rigged                          24 inch

Kathleen GRP                   Yawl                                     24 inch

Sloop, wooden                  Bermuda rigged                   20 inch

Tonnage Class, wooden    Gaff rigged                           26 inch

Nisha, Brixham Trawler     Gaff rigged                          22 inch

Valentine, wooden            Gaff rigged                           30 inch

Neptune Schooner           Gaff rigged                           18 inch 

Schooner, wooden            Gaff rigged                           20 inch

1890, wooden,                  Gaff rigged                           18 inch

Jolie Breeze, wooden        gaff rigged                            22 inch

Barge, wooden                  Gaff rigged                           6 and 11 inch

Solid Sloop, wooden         Bermuda rigged                    12 and 14 inch

Hollow Sloop, wooden      Bermuda rigged                    14 and 16 inch

Hollow Sloop                    Gaff rigged                            15 and 18 inch

Hollow Sloop                    Double head Gaff rigged      18 inch

Yawl.                                Lugger rigged                         17 and 20 inch

Some of the above yachts were made in very small numbers

Albatross Kathleen Yawl, Britannia Pond

24 inch Albatross Kathleen yawl.

J Alexander and Sons of Preston

Alexander racing yachts really are in a class of their own for their astounding quality of finish and sailing qualities they are now highly sought after with each example offered for sale commanding high prices.  John Alexander trained to be a carpenter and was employed by Browns Shipyard in Glasgow, during WW1 he was involved in building early flying boats for the Royal Navy, possibly Saunders Roe. John was a keen model yachtsman and in 1925 he made the decision to convert his hobby into a business. His range of quality hand crafted yachts were made in the sprawling upstairs rooms of his house in Ashton on Ribble. The house was ideally situated for testing and sailing near Fleetwood International boating lake. His sons successfully raced their own boats which provided excellent PR for their range of yachts. The enviable quality of the yachts was assisted by entire family who helped with assembly and sail making.

After WW2 demand decreased due to Britain's period of Austerity,

and the demand for their expensive range of yachts was no more. John retired from the business around 1950, his sons carried on producing the yachts and introduced an electric powered speed boat. J Alexander and sons sadly ceased production in around 1960. It is not known how many models were actually produced.

 

J Alexander yachts were sold by mail order and in Gamages, and Hamleys with the advertising slogan of British Boats for British Boys!

The J. Alexander yacht series

White Flyer

Heather Elf                                            18 inch

White Heather                             20-34 inch

Heather Dew                               22-25 inch

Heather Bells                               26 inch

Heather Isle                                 30 inch

Heather Glen                               36 inch

White Elf                                      22 inch

White Spray                                 30 inch

 

It is believed that all J Alexander yachts were Bermuda rigged. There was also a tie-up with Bassett-Lowke who marketed the White Heather series known as R1-R4

J.  Alexander, Heather Dew, Britannia Po

J Alexander White Heather, Pond Yacht.

Ailsa Yachts

It is not known when Ailsa yachts first started making model yachts but an early advertisement is dated 1936, it is now accepted that the earliest wooden yachts date from the late 1920's. Sadly it is not known how many different models that were made and it is assumed that they were first produced by Turner of Largs, and the very first model yachts were carved from bread and butter pine board construction, and fitted with a wooden lead weighted keel and sometimes with a metal fin. However they were initially designed to be used without a moveable rudder and provide excellent performance in the hands of beginners they were made to a high standard, with extensive prototype testing carried out by Turner on the yacht pond at Largs. These earliest yachts were referred to as Clyde built Stevie boats and were originally fitted with striped cotton sails. At the time the dockyards of the River Clyde had an enviable reputation and built more ships and boats than anywhere else in the world. The later name Ailsa refers to an Island called Ailsa Craig off the coast of Largs.

 

Initially they were sold by the Clyde Model Dockyard in Glasgow, it is possible that only those yachts sold by the Clyde Model Dockyard were named Iona. They became widely sold throughout the UK and were even exported throughout the Commonwealth. Production ceased during WW2 but after the war manufacturing commenced and at one stage upto 12 people were employed. Milbro a toy and sports equipment wholesaler began marketing the yachts these were fitted with an ivorine name plate bearing the name Milbro. An aluminium hull with a Cedar deck was introduced soon after the war which enabled the yacht to be slightly lighter and therefore faster than those yachts with wooden hulls, speed of production was also increased. The very last of the yachts were fitted with hot rolled terylene sails, this was the go to racing sail material used at the time. The very last yachts were made with a GRP hull and the last Ailsa yacht off the line was made in the early 1960's. Today Ailsa yachts are still very popular they are elegant in design and provide outstanding performance, something that has still to be bettered today, perhaps this is why Ailsa yachts are rarely seen for sale and command such high prices when they do.

                                   The Ailsa yacht series

12  inches long

14  inches long

16 inches Long

17  inches long

18  inches long

20 inches long

21  inches long

28 inches long

30 inches long

These are the only sizes known at the time of writing

16 inch Milbro Ailsa, Britannia Pond Yac

A late 16 inch Aluminium hulled Milbro Ailsa.

B-Boats, British Yacht and Model Company

The first listing for B-Boats was in the 1932 Meccano Magazine, they were manufactured at 459 Fulham road in London. Very little else is known about the company and how long it stayed in business, however the hulls were made from a quality aluminium pressing like later Ailsa yachts, it is interesting to note that B-Boats power boat pressings were also used on the Scottish Marine Companies, Mermaid power boat. B-Boats were a high quality product with beautifully sewn double stitched double hemmed sails that were provided with a curved foot, sheeting was attached using Lanyard clips like other quality yacht manufacturers at the time a free swinging rudder was also fitted. All B-Boats were supplied in a green felt lined wooden box. The advertising slogan for B-Boats was unsurpassed for Grace and speed. (Once my B-Boat has been restored I will set it against a similar Ailsa to see which is the quickest across the pond).

The British Yacht and Model Company, B-Boat range.

S1016                     Bermuda rigged                             16 inches Long

S1020                    Bermuda rigged                             20 inches long

S1026                    Bermuda rigged                             26 inches long

S1033                    Bermuda rigged                             33 inches long

Britannia Pond Yachts B Boats restoratio

The remains of a once beautiful 16 inch B-Boat.

Bassett-Lowke Ltd

The trading name of Bassett-Lowke was Founded in 1899 and has a long and complicated history, based in Northampton they were originally known for their large scale exhibition standard models made for boat and ship manufacturers including military vehicles, model steam locomotives and rolling stock. They also retailed quality model yachts and boats including the Alexander White Heather range. It is not known how many model boats that Bassett-Lowke actually made but it is certain that they manufactured a range of four beautiful power boats and a range of model boat fittings themselves.

Basset Lowke Deerhound, Britannia Pond Y

A Bassett-Lowke Deerhound

                           Bonds of Euston Road

Bonds O Euston Road as they called themselves were a very popular model engineering supplier, selling model kits, tools, parts, stationary engines, plans and castings, established in 1887 known simply as Bonds, they moved to Euston Road in 1929, Bonds also had their own range of quality racing yachts and boats sourced from a variety of suppliers. The decline in interest of their core products meant that they had to move to new premises in Sussex and changed direction becoming a hardware store, they closed in 2010.

                         Bonds of Euston, Endeavour range

17 inch                             automatic rudder

21 inch                             automatic rudder

28 inch                            Braine type steering

36 inch                            Braine type steering

Bonds_Endeavour_Yacht_(MM_1935-08)_edite

A 1935 Bonds of Euston, Endeavour Yacht

AW Gamage Ltd

Gamages were a quality London department store that started trading in 1878 selling clothes, they were very successful and were soon selling all manner of goods including toys and model yachts. Little is known about the range of yachts sold as the company closed in 1972, and the records were destroyed. It is thought that because Gamages were able to sell high volumes of goods they were able to acquire exclusive deals with existing manufacturers, the types of yachts sold it seems was very varied and some were possibly made in Germany. Difficulty in identifying Gamages type yachts exists because few yachts had any identification marks on them.

Britannia Pond Yachts Gamages Gaff Rigge

A  superbly made 1920's Gaff rigged Gamages yacht

Hobbies of Dereham Ltd.

Hobbies of Dereham Ltd was established by John Skinner in around 1880, and sold specialist woodworking tools, patterns and materials. They produced the popular Hobbies magazine which included their ever growing range of items and how to do articles. Hobbies Ltd was formed in 1902 and was now operating from many shops around the country. It was in 1922 that the association with Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins was formed, and a range of steam powered motor boats was introduced. Bowman designed and built a variety of yachts and boats, the company became known as Hobbies Bowman.

 

Unfortunately the Bowman section of the company failed in 1935. It is interesting to note that from this failure the creation of Mammod came about from the early steam engine designs made by Geoffrey-Malin's co-operation with Hobbies Ltd. By 1968  Hobbies Ltd was liquidated, however a previous employee managed to purchase the brand name and Hobbies Ltd was relaunched and is still trading today with a strong online presence selling plans, materials tools and spares as it had originally done when Hobbies first started.

The Hobbies Bowman range

The Ace                    14.5 inches Gaff rigged                         1925-28

Peewit                      14.5 inches Bermuda rigged                  1925-29

Whitewings              20 inches Gaff rigged

Seagull                     23 inches Gaff rigged

Britannia Pond Yachts Hobbies Yachts The

An early Hobbies "Peewit" pond yacht.

Winford Model Yachts

Winford made a stylish and unusual range of pond yachts, they were a quality product and expensively priced, and were marketed as an any weather yacht. They featured innovative pressed steel hulls fitted with wooden decks and removable/adjustable lead weighted wooden keels of different weights and sizes. These yachts were also fitted with steering gear and a stern mounted rudder, all models featured a bowsprit and as far as we know all were fitted with a Bermuda rig. They were produced at the Kingswinford Forge in Staffordshire during the 1920's. Very little more is known about the company it is likely that very few yachts were sold and even fewer have survived even though world wide sales were claimed.

The Winford yacht range

 

12 inch ‘Ordinary’, fixed keel, one suit of sails.

12 inch ‘Special’ with two suits of sails and spars, removable keel and ballast, a carrying box and weighted rudder.

15 inch ‘Ordinary’, fixed single keel, one suit of sails.

15 inch ‘Special’ with three suits of sails and spars, removable keel and ballast, a carrying box and simple tiller steering gear.

20 inch ‘Racing’ model with three suits of sails, removable keel and ballast, a carrying box and a sheet to tiller steering gear.

27 inch model with three suits of sails, removable keel and ballast, a carrying box and a sheet to tiller steering gear.

36 inch model with three suits of sails, removable keel and ballast, a carrying box and a simple sheet to tiller steering gear. 

36 inch schooner rigged with two suits of sails, removable keel and ballast, with steering gear.

Winford Racing Yacht diagram.png

Winford racing yacht diagram.

Kylecraft Model Yachts

Kylecraft Pond Yachts were made in Largs on the river Clyde just after the Second World War. Largs was also the home of the Ailsa yacht brand, on inspection the two types are very similar, with the Kylecraft yacht having a slightly deeper hull and keel than an Ailsa. It is not known if there was any collaboration between the two companies. Kylecraft continued to use carved wooden hulls whereas Ailsa were using a pressed aluminium hull. Overall Ailsa yachts were produced in far greater quantities and therefore easier to find than Kylecraft yachts and because of their rarity they have now become highly collectable. It is thought that Hobbies of Dereham Ltd marketed Kylecraft yachts. Once Kylecraft had ceased trading 300 nearly completed yachts were acquired by a gentleman who ran a market stall in Portobello Market, he completed the yachts and sold them as display pieces.

The Kylecraft yacht range

12 inch                                Bermuda rigged

16 inch                                Bermuda rigged

18 inch                                Bermuda rigged

22 Inch                               Bermuda rigged

24 inch                               Bermuda rigged

12 inch Kylecraft yacht.jpg

A 12 inch Kylecraft yacht sailing in Cumbria.

Redwing Model Yachts

Very little indeed is known about Redwing  Pond Yachts, it seems that they were manufactured in the 1920's as a surviving catalogue although undated refers to the 1921 Cowes yacht races. They made both yachts and powerboats, Redwing models were hardly toys with some of the yachts being 50 inches long and made to a very high specification which included steering gear on some models. The company was based at 150 Kingston Road, in New Malden, Surrey.

The Redwing yacht range

Model No 1   The Redwing Sloop               36 inch Gaff rigged

Model No 2  The Redwing                          24 inch Gaff rigged

Model No 3  Bluebird                                 36 inch Bermuda rigged

Model No 4  Bluebird                                 24 inch Bermuda rigged

Model No 5  Ten-rater Schooner              50 inch Bermuda rigged

Model No 6  6m International                   (size unknown)

Redwing 10 rater, Britannia pond yachts.

A 50 inch Redwing Ten-rater Schooner.

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