Classic Boat Museum

The Classic Boat Museum is a museum of boats and of the history of yachting and boating. It is located on the Isle of Wight at two separate sites on either side of the River Medina; The Boat Collection in Cowes, and The Gallery in East Cowes. It is a working museum featuring restoration. Work takes place all year round. In addition to classic boats, the museum contains tools, artefacts, books, photographs, film and archival items that relate to the history of boat building, sailing, yachting, cruising and racing over the last century.

Classic Boat Museum
The Classic Boat Museum

The Boat Collection

The Boat Shed
The Boat Shed beside the historic Hammerhead Crane

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.
  • Kestrel - An early Bembridge Redwing. In 1934 Lord Brabazon of Tara fitted a rotating aerofoil rig, swivelling mast and a brake at the masthead. Its design is unique.
  • 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.

The Gallery Exhibition

Entrance to Classic Boat Museum Gallery

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 on the Isle of Wight
  • Photographs of yachts in the Solent and East Coast from the 1920s onwards, named and dated
  • Jo Carstairs' collection – press cuttings and photographs relating to her motorboat racing career in the 1920s
  • Models of power boats and working craft
  • Library of 2,000 maritime books
  • Gipsy Moth IV Connection — The museum's Gallery features some of the original equipment from the boat and clothing worn by Francis Chichester during his journey.
  • Other displays relating to Ellen MacArthur, Trinity House, Fleet Reviews, Princess Flying Boat, Hovercraft and J-Class yachts.


  1. ^ "Isle of Wight Classic Boat Museum — Collection". Classic Boat Museum.

External links

Coordinates: 50°45′37″N 1°17′21″W / 50.76035°N 1.289048°W

John Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara

Lieutenant-Colonel John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, , HonFRPS (8 February 1884 – 17 May 1964) was an English aviation pioneer and Conservative politician. He was the first Englishman to pilot a heavier-than-air machine under power in England, and he served as Minister of Transport and Minister of Aircraft Production during World War II.

RNLB Queen Victoria

RNLB Queen Victoria is an historic shore-based lifeboat, built in 1887, operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), and now preserved at The Shipwreck Centre, Arreton, Isle of Wight.A rowing boat, Queen Victoria operated from Bembridge on the Isle of Wight from 1887 to 1902. It was then purchased by one of its crew, who converted it for use as a houseboat.In 1989 Martin Woodward, then coxswain of the Bembridge lifeboat, purchased Queen Victoria and, after several years of fundraising, the boat was finally restored in 1998, at the Classic Boat Museum, in East Cowes.The boat is now under the stewardship of the Isle of Wight Historic Lifeboat Trust, a registered charity, and is seaworthy.1999 she was taken to the BBC Television Centre in London to appear on the BBC television programme Blue Peter, to mark the RNLI's 175th anniversary.

River Medina

The River Medina is the main river of the Isle of Wight, England, rising at St Catherine's Down near Blackgang and Chale, and flowing generally northwards through the capital Newport, towards the Solent at Cowes. The river is a navigable tidal estuary from Newport northwards, where it takes the form of a ria (a drowned valley).

Its current state has occurred because the Medina used to be a tributary of what was once the "River Solent" and had a much larger catchment area. As the Solent valley flooded and the island eroded, the river received less water flow and more sediment, causing it to become more tidal.

The river is bridged at Newport. Cowes is connected to East Cowes by a chain ferry known as the Cowes Floating Bridge.The name Medina comes from the Old English Meðune meaning "the middle one", and the current pronunciation was first recorded as 'Medine' in 1196.The river is used by yachtsmen as a very safe harbour. Along the banks of the Medina there are many old warehouses and wharves where in the past flying boats, hovercraft and steam ships were developed and built. The Classic Boat Museum displays much of the river's history alongside the history of yachting. The Island Harbour Marina, at the site of an old tidal mill, is also on the river, about two miles from Newport.

As well as the chain ferry, the River Medina has several small ferries which cater mainly for sailors.

Medina, Western Australia is a suburb in Perth named after it.


Sopranino is used to indicate a tonal range beyond soprano.

In particular, it can refer to:

a type of various wind instruments such as:

the sopranino saxophone,

the sopranino clarinet,

the sopranino recorder; or

a sopranino voice with a range higher than soprano.

Sopranino, a 1950 ultralight sailboat, the pattern for later classes, now preserved at the Classic Boat Museum at Cowes, Isle of Wight.

The Sopranos an American crime drama television series created by David Chase.

Uffa Fox

Uffa Fox, CBE (15 January 1898 – 26 October 1972) was an English boat designer and sailing enthusiast.

William Umpleby Kirk

William Umpleby Kirk (1843 - 1928) was a pioneer photographer of the late Victorian period. He was born in Hull and grew up in nearby Market Weighton where, in the early 1870s, he set up his first photographic studio. Examples of his work from that period have survived and are collected. In 1881 Kirk moved his family and his business to Cowes, Isle of Wight. Cowes at that time was the international centre of yachting, the sport of royalty, the rich and the privileged. At Cowes yachts were raced, bought, sold and shown off. The rich and the titled came to Cowes to meet each other, to play and to be seen. Kirk photographed the boats and their owners afloat and ashore. He specialised in marine photographs, in portraiture e.g a copy of Kirk's photograph of The Marquis of Ormonde is held in the British National Archives at Kew. He photographed groups at house parties, tutor groups and sports teams of Naval Cadets at Osborne Naval College. His photographs of the sumptuous interiors of large yachts remain to record that era.Kirk's reputation grew when he photographed Queen Victoria's yacht HMY Alberta at a speed of 10 knots entering Cowes Harbour; this is said to be one of the first British photographs of a vessel in motion. and to have earned him the Royal Warrant. Photographs by Kirk of the yachts Bona and Ailsa, for example, were sold by auction at Christie's, New York and his work is sought by collectors.A collection of Kirk's work is held by the Isle of Wight County Council and is reviewed by Ian Dear. An extensive, but as yet uncatalogued collection of Kirk's original 8" x 10" glass plates is held by the Gallery, Classic Boat Museum, East Cowes.


The XOD Class Keelboat (X (Class) One Design (XOD) keelboat) is a small 21 ft day racing yacht with fleets based on the south coast of England.The XOD Class is unique in having six active fleets around the Solent area, between Chichester Harbour in the East and Poole Harbour in the West. In each of the locations a well-established local Club manages the racing. Seasons and race programmes vary to meet the requirements of the local membership.

The X One Design was designed by Alfred Westmacott, who was Managing Director of Woodnutts Boatyard at St Helens on the Isle of Wight. He specialised in building small day racing boats and these included the Seaview Mermaid, Solent Sunbeam and Victory. Racing first took place in Southampton Water in 1911 under the auspices of the MYC (later to become the Royal Motor Yacht Club). By the outbreak of the First World War some ten boats had been built. After the First World War, building resumed in 1923, continued till 1939, stopped during WW2 and resumed in 1946. The latest boat built was as recently as 2007. The hull shape has remained unchanged since the original design but there have been changes to the approved types of timber, fastenings and surface treatments. This last change was perhaps the most important, as many boats have now been epoxied with considerable savings in upkeep and prolonging the life of the boats so treated.

X One Design racing takes place throughout the season in six locations around the Solent. At each one a full programme of racing is organised by the Clubs involved. Of the 202 X boats ever built, after allowing for those lost to fire, storm, neglect and one even to enemy action, there are still 190 registered. XOD fleets are in Cowes, Hamble, Itchenor, Lymington, Parkstone and Yarmouth.

An XOD is usually crewed competitively by three people, although it is possible to sail with two. The spinnaker can be hoisted without the crew leaving the cockpit.

The XOD fleet is an important part of Cowes Week one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world. XOD's were first raced in August 1911. 2011 marked the Centenary year with an unprecedented 145 entries in Cowes Week. The X Class continues to hold a special place in the event with over 80 yachts racing in the 2014 Cowes Week regatta. This regatta included a yacht originally built over a century ago in 1911 named Madcap - sail number X5.

The oldest XOD - X1 Mistletoe belongs to The National Maritime Museum of Greenwich, London. It is on display in Cowes, Isle of Wight at the Classic Boat Museum.


Yachting refers to the use of recreational boats and ships called yachts for sporting purposes. Yachts are distinguished from working ships mainly by their leisure purpose.

Both terms originate from the Dutch word jacht ("hunt"). With sailboats, it is called sailing, and with motorboats, it is called powerboating.

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