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Victorian Garden Pond Models

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For a very long time the Halifax Public Gardens has had a model liner floating in the duck pond. Currently it's a 6ft-ish model of the Titanic.  It is my understanding that a model ship floating in a pond was a common attraction of Victorian Gardens.  Besides Halifax are there other current examples of this practice?

 

https://www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca/garden-features/

new_titanic.jpg?format=750w

Edited by bsmall

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Years ago, and long before R/C, I remember seeing  Pond Models being sailed on weekends in local ponds; I was just a kid at the time and living in the outskirts of New York City. There used to be a group in Marblehead, MA that had frequent regattas/demonstrations, but no longer living in the New England area, I don't know if the club still exists.

I suspect there are still a few around, but those hobbyists would be pretty ancient by now and the old boats either converted to R/C or become home decorations. The new guys have mostly converted to Radio Control. 

In today's society and the younger people being often vandelizing stuff just for the heck of it, I can't imagine someone putting in years of toil making the model and leaving it out, unprotected at night.

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Okay - not exactly a current example of a Victorian model on a pond in a park, in fact it's more Edwardian! I'd have loved to see this for real on the lake a few miles east of where I live but unfortunately it was scrapped due to rot in the early 1900s having been the play thing of a fortunate group that included members of the British royal family.

 

https://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/places/surrey/runnymede/virginia-water/

 

PC_56_90.thumb.jpg.b471e73c98eed6c134987ae66e45f6fb.jpg

 

Graham.

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Thanks for the reply Jim.

I've seen photos of the types of free-running "pond models" you're referring to.  I believe there are people still building and sailing/racing this type of model; particularly in England. I'm not sure if they were ever used on the pond in the Halifax Public Gardens.  The liners on the other hand have been in the pond for decades.  The current model of the Titanic was built by the Maritime Ship Modellers Guild and installed in 1994. But when I was growing up in Halifax in the '70s it was the Queen Mary.  The Halifax Public Gardens are considered by many to be the best preserved example of a classic Victorian public garden left in North America. And like many gardens of this type it has a high wrought iron fence surrounding the entire property and is cleared of visitors and locked at sundown. As far as I know the models have never been vandalized by people.  The occasional deranged duck will cause some damage though. The model is hauled out for refit just before freeze-up each winter.

 

 

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Graham - that's pretty cool!

The article you linked to says it "sailed" on the pond.  Do they mean that literally?!

 

I don't think the pond I have available is big enough for a 1:1 model unless my prototype was a rowboat :) . 

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Brian - I think it more likely they just climbed aboard. The lake would have been challenging for a 'model' vessel of the size shown on the postcard to navigate! No boats of any type on it now although there is still a small boat house on one bank of the lake.

As a young lad (far too many years ago) I used to travel to north London and stay with my grandparents in Palmers Green. Just up the road from where they lived was Broomfield Park, an easy walk away, which boasted a boating lake built in 1903. A Sunday treat was to go and see the pond yachts sailing there. I just did a quick check on-line and it appears that it's still going strong and in regular use although, as Jim pointed out, mostly R/C types these days. I have an original pond yacht that I'm currently trying to restore to it's original condition. Working out how the self steering gear works is proving a challenge.....

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Sailing "pond models" were once quite popular, as mentioned. Authentic originals are prized by interior decorators as decorative items, so much so that there are now many counterfeit "antiques" now being produced. Many of the older ones had rather intricate mechanical self-steering gear on them in the days before radio control. They were not limited to sailing models. I was commissioned to restore a pond model of a four and a half foot long turn of the last century steam yacht propelled by a scale-sized steam engine. It's now displayed at the San Rafael Yacht Club in San Rafael, CA. I restored the steam plant (asbestos and all) and got her up and running, but myself and all included decided that at that point the then nearly hundred year old  model was too precious to risk "free sailing." 

 

Spreckles Lake in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was built for the purpose of racing pond yachts and other models and it still is today. The lake and adjacent clubhouse are the home of the San Francisco Model Yacht Club, established in 1898. See: https://www.sfmyc.org/

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Charter33,  Some time back an older member of our modeling club had a 1930's vintage sailing Pond Model that had lines running from the aft end of the jib boom back to the tiller to work as a semi-functional self steering and trim the jib after a tack. Unfortunately  I don't remember any details, but it must have worked reasonably well on a close reach  course to keep the boat headed for the opposite shore where they could recover it.

 

Jim

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I live about two miles from the site of one of the more extravagant Victorian pond models. Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire is the former home of the Dukes of Newcastle. Several of these aristos were noted for their eccentricity, including the 6th Duke who bought a 32' one-third scale replica of a naval frigate called the Lincoln to float in Clumber Lake (an 87 acre artificial stretch of water created in the 18th century to enhance the estate).

lincolnfrigate.thumb.jpg.5750bd93dd6207701913a77963ff9f78.jpg

The 7th Duke probably spent more time playing with the frigate than his predecessor. He invited guests aboard the Lincoln to fish off the decks and help him stage mock battles. The gun battery in the Pleasure Grounds saw action at this time - armed with 26 bronze cannons they were used to fire at the Lincoln. However the frigate was not defenceless and could return fire from its own guns, engaging those on shore in combat! I've not found any record of casualty numbers, so I suspect they mainly fired blanks. You can still see the gun battery to this day, minus the artillery.

 

clumbergunbattery.jpg.edeb72b440a137ccd2e4cfce96e72a4c.jpg

The Duke employed a full time sailor to man the vessel and as late as 1911 spent £200 on new rigging and repair work. However all good things come to and end, and with the 7th Duke's death in 1928 the Lincoln fell into disrepair. According to local records, by the 1940s the Lincoln frigate found new use as a children’s playground and was ultimately destroyed thank to a group of children’s ill-advised attempt to keep warm by lighting a fire on its deck. All that remains now are the masts - recovered by a local sub-aqua club and displayed in the estate - and some of the frames that are exposed when water levels are particularly low. 

 

Derek

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Hi,

Spyglass and Jim - thank you for your interest in my predicament. I'll take and post some pictures tomorrow and start a new thread with a bit more information and background to this restoration as I wouldn't want to high jack this very interesting and informative thread.

 

Cheers,

 

Graham

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