'British Small Craft': the cultural geographies of mid-twentieth century technology and display

Fenner, James Lyon (2014) 'British Small Craft': the cultural geographies of mid-twentieth century technology and display. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The British Small Craft display, installed in 1963 as part of the Science Museum’s new Sailing Ships Gallery, comprised of a sequence of twenty showcases containing models of British boats—including fishing boats such as luggers, coracles, and cobles—arranged primarily by geographical region. The brainchild of the Keeper William Thomas O’Dea, the nautical themed gallery was complete with an ocean liner deck and bridge mezzanine central display area. It contained marine engines and navigational equipment in addition to the numerous varieties of international historical ship and boat models. Many of the British Small Craft displays included accessory models and landscape settings, with human figures and painted backdrops.

The majority of the models were acquired by the museum during the interwar period, with staff actively pursuing model makers and local experts on information, plans and the miniature recreation of numerous regional boat types. Under the curatorship supervision of Geoffrey Swinford Laird Clowes this culminated in the temporary ‘British Fishing Boats’ Exhibition in the summer of 1936. However the earliest models dated back even further with several originating from the Victorian South Kensington Museum collections, appearing in the International Fisheries Exhibition of 1883.

With the closure and removal of the Shipping Gallery in late 2012, the aim of this project is to produce a reflective historical and cultural geographical account of these British Small Craft displays held within the Science Museum. In this process it reveals the hidden stories behind the collection and individual boat models. The research therefore considers the former British Small Craft display in terms of its geographical visual and textual presentation of national and local identity, the cultural transference of knowledge from local regional areas to a national/international stage, its evocation of coastal and river landscapes, and its techniques of landscape/seascape miniaturisation in mid twentieth century Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Matless, D.S.
Heffernan, M.
Rooney, David
Boon, Tim
Keywords: ship models, model boats, museum displays, Science Museum
Subjects: V Naval science > VM Naval architecture. Shipbuilding. Marine engineering
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Geography
Item ID: 14494
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2015 10:01
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 04:56
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/14494

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