CJB Boatyard

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Sutcliffe Boats

Peter's Speedboat

In 1930, Sutcliffe introduced three new speedboats into their range. These boats were powered by a powerful clockwork motor and were  much faster and easier to use than the slow (and dangerous!) meths fired hot air boat. It would be in about 1931 when Peter Turner would be given his boat, the smallest 12" version, for his Birthday.

Peter's father, Tom, owned a Ironmonger and General Store in Arnold, a small town in the outskirts of Nottingham.  'Tommy Turners' as it was known, on Front Street, sold all manner of household items, from buckets to brooms and lamp oil to light bulbs. It probably sold 'fork handles' and is certainly sold toys! Tommy Turner stocked a small variety of toys from the period, including Meccano, Hornby Trains, Dinky toys and of course Sutcliffe Boats. What a lucky lad Peter was; Dad owned a Toy Shop!!

The picture above shows Tom Turner's store in about 1950,  though the store front is identical to how it appeared in the 1930's when Peter received his boat. Could those be toys in the window?


Peter no doubt played with his fine boat, but at some stage it was handed down to his cousin Harvey who kept the boat.  


Fast forward half a century to to 1980. T & T Turners is still going strong at the same address on Front Street in Arnold. By now the shop had been 'modernised' with a larger shop windows and no longer sold toys, but at Christmas it always had a festive window display which featured a 1950's meccano display model of a ferris wheel which was 'left over' from the days of selling toys.

Not only did the shop exist, but so did the boat. Harvey, now grown up and knowing his friend Dave had in interest in such things, gave the toy boat to him one day at Arnold Flea Market. By now the boat was showing its age and was missing its windscreen, hatch and bung, and the motor came in a plastic bag, rusty with a broken spring.  The red and gold decal on the foredeck at also gone missing. Dave, knowing that Sutcliffe, like Tom Turners, was still a going conern, contacted Ken Sutcliffe to see if he could help with parts for the boat.


As it happend, Sutcliffe had fairly recently re-introduced the Minx, essentially the same boat, in limited numbers for collectors, so Ken said that he could indeed help and the boat was duly dispatched to the Sutcliffe factory for repairs.

The boat above is what Ken thought was being sent to him, whereas what he received was (the remains of) a boat which started out life like the one below!  What Ken received was a much earlier version of the Minx, (before it was even called Minx), which which has a completely different windscreen, so that was problem number one. The second problem was that the motor in the early boats was different to the boat made in the 1980's so the winding hole the hatch was in a different place.

'Peter's boat', as it is today.

IMG_1538 Image 1 SUT31-1-EE IMG_0989



This of course was not a problem for Ken, who had spent an entire working life 'solving problems' and making do with what he had. Below is the letter that Ken sent back with the boat; you can read what he did for yourself!

IMG_1731 IMG_1738 ken sutcliffe letter

The photo below shows the boat along side an original, albeit very slightly earlier version (the earlier version has a three blade prop and a smaller rudder). You can see that Ken did a pretty good job! Ken's windscreen is very slightly larger, but considering that he didn't have anything to copy, it's a very good job. It could do with a little more paint, but Ken didn't mind admitting that himself!


Fast forward another 30 years, and the boat is now in the CJB collection.  We are particularly pleased to have this boat in the collection as Chris was born in Arnold, Nottingham and both father and son have fond memories of Tommy Turner's shop on Front Street in the late 70's and early 80's.


We often restore our boats to their original specification if they have been damaged or previously restored either badly or incorrectly. Not this one! It'll be preserved exactly 'as is' as a tribute to the ingenuity of Kenneth Sutcliffe.