Messing About in Boats, Liverpool Maritime Musuem

18th July 2013

From 24 January 2013 until early 2014. Messing about in boats is a display of four pleasure and leisure craft that people have used locally to enjoy being out on the water.

'Diamond Junilee'

Boating is a great way to escape the stresses of modern life. It can be slow and relaxing, or fast and exciting. It can be a chance to spend time on your own or socialise with friends and family.

“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Liverpool Maritime Museum focuses on four craft in this exhibition:

Diamond Jubilee

Rowing boats are narrow lightweight craft, propelled through the water using oars. They can be sweep (single oared), and scull (double oared), and some are steered by an extra crew member called a cox.

‘Diamond Jubilee’ was built by WJ Colley for the Henry Meoles School Boat Club of Wallasey. The club traces its origins back to 1922, and the boat was built to commemorate the club’s Diamond Jubilee in 1982, hence the name. In the early 1990s the club closed and its boats were transferred to Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club.

‘Diamond Jubilee’ takes a crew of five; four to row using single oars (sweep), and a cox to steer. The lightweight hull is made of a thin cedar wood skin over a larch wood frame.

Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club traces its beginnings to 1884, and is the last surviving rowing club on the Wirral peninsula.


‘Melody’ was one of the last hand-made wooden Attacker speedboats to be built, and is a prime example of its type.

It was built in 1961 by Aqua Craft, of Bridport, Dorset. At this time more sophisticated materials such as aluminium sheet were beginning to be used in speedboat construction, but this boat was built using traditional methods and materials.

‘Melody’ was assigned its number, W13, by the Wallasey Power Boat and Ski Club. It was used for pleasure, mainly for racing and water skiing on the river Mersey.

‘Melody’ has seating for up to four people, and could reach a speed of 35 miles per hour.


The Clipper class dinghy originated from a design that was developed in 1919 in which women learned to sail. It offered more comfort and safety than other dinghy classes.

A modified version of this design was adopted for use by the West Cheshire Sailing Club. The new Clipper class dinghy proved to be an excellent racing boat on the River Mersey. By 1957 there were 26 boats which were also being used by the local Wallasey Yacht Club and Royal Mersey Yacht club.

The popularity of the class fell in the 1960s with the development of other dinghy classes, but there are vintage Clipper class dinghies still sailed locally.

‘Spindrift’ is displayed with a vintage sail from West Cheshire Clipper number 6. She is rigged for display, not for sailing.


‘Raparee’ was built by Wyche and Coppock of Nottingham using mahogany, and has a broad plywood deck.

‘Raparee’ is an early example of the Merlin-Rocket class of racing dinghy. This class was created in 1951 by the merger of two existing classes – Merlin and Rocket. ‘Raparee’ raced for many years at Liverpool Sailing Club.

Since the 1950s over 2500 Merlin-Rocket dinghies have been built and used for racing throughout Britain. The design has evolved. Modern Merlin-Rockets are wider than ‘Raparee’ and made of fibreglass.

Dinghy racing is thriving in the north west of England. The annual Wilson Trophy at West Kirby on the Wirral peninsula is a leading international event.

‘Raparee’ is displayed without her mast and rigging which are too tall to fit within the museum!

Find out more about sailing, rowing, canoeing and power boating clubs across the UK here

Merseyside Maritime Museum
Albert Dock
Liverpool Waterfront
L3 4AQ

Liverpool Maritime Museum
0151 478 4499

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