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Swallows and Amazons film dinghy at London Boat Show

by Magnus Smith 12 Jan 2011 21:13 GMT 7-16 January 2011
Tullet Prebon London International Boat Show 2011 © Tom Gruitt / Yachts & Yachting

Swallow is a vintage lugsail dinghy, the star of the 1974 feature film ‘Swallows and Amazons’, based on Arthur Ransome’s book. She is on display at the London Boat Show and has already delighted many fans. She will be on the Classic Boat stand until the 16th January when the show closes.

The first day of the show saw one of the original cast reunited with her vessel. Sophie Neville had a leading role in the film at the age of 12 and had not seen the boat since recording concluded. She was delighted to greet Swallow in all her newly-varnished glory, as were many visitors to the stand. Those with an eye for old-yet-beautiful woodwork caressed the gunwhales thoughtfully, whilst children ran back and forth examining everything, thrilled with the chance to speak to Sophie.

Between 1974 and 2010 Swallow had laid unused in Turks boatyard at Chatham until she was sold at auction. A group of dedicated Arthur Ransome fans clubbed together to buy her, and a very sensitive restoration was undertaken by Patterson Boatworks in the Lake District. They were very careful not to over-restore her, and the result is a boat which shows its age gracefully, rather than being ruined by attempting perfection.

Patterson’s dedication extended not only to scraping and sanding the tiny gaps between each rib, but to applying 15 coats of varnish. This gleaming result was made possible by a donation from International Marine.

To see Swallow, you can either visit the show, or wait for the sailing programme to begin in April. Everyone is welcome to sail, and there are opportunities at events all across England this year so you won’t have to drive far. Young and old, sailors and non-sailors are welcome, to grab a chance of sailing "just like in the books."

Further information on events and the project:

Boat show ticket information: / 0871 230 7140
(Under-15s go free, and adults can use the discount code LJG1)

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