Classic Boat Museum

Classic Boat Museum

Coordinates: 50°42′17″N 1°17′26″W / 50.7046°N 1.2906°W / 50.7046; -1.2906

Classic Boat Museum

The exterior of the museum
Established 1996
Location Newport Quay, Isle of Wight, England
Type Boats
Website Website

The Classic Boat Museum is a museum for boats located in Newport Quay alongside the River Medina on the Isle of Wight. It is a working museum featuring a restoration shed where work takes place all year round. In addition to classic boats the museum also contains tools, artefacts, books, photographs, film and archival items that relate to much of the history of boat building, sailing, yachting, cruising and racing over the last century.


Moving to East Cowes

The Museum will close for 2011 on 30 October, and will re-open at their NEW SITE in East Cowes in April 2012. There will be newly-designed exhibition containing several boats not previously seen at the Museum, as well as interactive and educational displays aimed at younger visitors.

The Boat Collection at Newport

The collection includes varied types of boat, most made from wood that have now been restored. In addition to the main exhibits, there are also smaller boats on display including dinghies, canoes and rowing boats.[1]

  • Flying Spray - A now restored 1920's river launch. It was found holed and rotting in a Thames backwater. Since restoration the boat has attended several rallies in France, Germany and Switzerland and recently won the Concours d'Elegance at a French regatta in Aix-les-Bains.
  • Airborne Lifeboat - A Mark 1 version of Uffa Fox's 1943 Air/Sea Rescue design. The Mark 1 was carried and dropped by parachute from a Lockheed Hudson aircraft. Mark 1A boats used the larger Vickers Warwick. Later and larger versions used Lancasters and B17s. These boats were dropped to airmen who had ditched in the English Channel and the North Sea during World War II. It is estimated that these boats saved around 200-300 lives. The boat carried sufficient stores of food, water, fuel and clothing for a month at sea. A rescued crew was able to sail, motor or row home. This early example underwent a two-year restoration programme to restore it to its original specification after being dug out from a garden in Colchester. Airborne lifeboats were eventually replaced by helicopters in the 1950s.
  • Sopranino - This is the famous first example of an offshore mini cruiser/racer and was the foundation of the present day Junior Offshore Group fleet. In 1952 she was sailed across the Atlantic by Patrick Ellam and Colin Mudie and was later found in a poor state in the USA. She was purchased for $1 and returned home for restoration.
  • Lady Penelope - This is an early example of glass fibre sheathing technology and features a loud 225 hp V8 Chrysler engine. It is possibly the example previously owned by Lady Docker.
  • Kestrel - An early Bembridge Redwing. In 1934 Lord Brabazon of Tara fitted a rotating aerofoil rig, swiveling mast and a brake at the masthead. Its unique design often sparks interest with passers by.
  • Rosabelle - A launch (restored 2011) from which Frank William Beken took famous sailing photos that can be seen worldwide today.
  • Vigia - This historic Una Catboat awaiting restoration is the latest acquisition by the museum and was donated by the family whose care she has been under for over 70 years. She was built in Cowes in 1872 and is thought to be the oldest English registered pleasure yacht to be still sailing.
  • Black Bess - An 1870 Itchen ferry. The boat carries the name of the museum on her sail to many regattas during the summer.
  • Gipsy Moth IV Connection - This famous yacht was once sailed single-handed around the world by Francis Chichester and was, in 2005 restored to an active new life. She was later sailed around the world again, this time by groups of young people in relays. Chichester was knighted by the Queen at Greenwich on his return from his voyage. Today the museum's Gallery features some of the original equipment from his boat and clothing worn during his journey.

The Gallery Exhibition at East Cowes

The Classic Boat Museum's Gallery, based in the former Saunders Roe 1935 building, houses a number of photographic and artefact items, including:

• Photographs and other items and events associated with Uffa Fox, including 14 ft dinghies, sailing canoes, transatlantic voyages etc.

• Photographs, papers and test tank models relating to the Thornycroft family’s working and sailing life in the Isle of Wight

• Photographs of yachts in the Solent and East Coast from the 1920’s onwards, named and dated

• Jo Carstairs’ collection – press cuttings and photographs relating to her motor boat racing career in the 1920’s

• Models of power boats and working craft

• Library of 2,000 maritime books

• Other displays relating to Ellen MacArthur, Trinity House, Fleet Reviews, Princess Flying Boat, Hovercraft and J-Class yachts.


External links

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