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Swallows and Amazons film dinghy to be relaunched

by Magnus Smith 18 Mar 2011 15:02 GMT 10 April 2011

Swallow - the star of the 1974 film 'Swallows and Amazons'

The London Boat Show in January was Swallow's first public appearance since the film. She looked fantastic in her gleaming varnish (it really did gleam!) and very few people who stopped were able to keep their hands from stroking the beautiful wood. We were delighted to welcome an actress from the original film, Sophie Neville, and the producer of the new S&A film (coming next year), Nick Barton. A small group of Ransome fans were delighted to hear Sophie's commentary on a home-movie her father had taken behind-the-scenes during filming in 1973.

Before lunch on the first day the mystery of Swallow's origin had been revealed by a passer-by, who said he was once told how she was the 'hack boat' at William King's boatyard in Burnham-on-Crouch. This tied up very well with the "WK" carved into the transom, and Sophie's recollection that her audition was in Burnham too. Later in the week two other old salts confirmed the same story. Swallow's age is still a mystery though, and her construction may have been at any time before 1940. We are grateful to marine photographer Tom Gruitt for some wonderful pictures from the boat show.

A team of volunteers manned the stand throughout the show, talking about Ransome and sailing, telling everyone how they were welcome to come aboard for a sail this year. To those keen to get afloat, we promise to reveal our programme for the year once our first big event is over. This is taking a lot of organisation, but we can announce that....

Swallow will be relaunched, and sailed for the first time since the film, on 10th April at Coniston Water. You are all very welcome to sail that day, assuming the wind is kind enough! We'd love to see as many Arthur Ransome fans as possible. Full details of the weekend's events are here. If you live too far away, please keep your eye on the website later in April, when we will publish the locations across the country and dates we will visit. Hopefully Swallow will visit a place near you. If not, please get in touch and invite us!

We have to end by being 'money grubbing brutes' (as Ransome would have written) and ask if you are able make a donation to Swallow, please. We still have to raise funds for the new sail and safety equipment. Since April 2010 we have had 90 kind people make this project possible. With their help Swallow will stay alive, on the water...not rotting away, not hidden in a museum...but bringing the magic of sailing to as many people as we can. Please consider if you can help make that happen by making a donation.

Thank you all for your support.

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