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Norman Ough


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Presently reading the Ough biography.

It's full of fascinating well researched features, published originally during the '50's and '60s. A little before my time. Mostly related to Royal Navy 20th century vessels of every types. I'm impressed with his first hand visits to various ships and his accounts of what he found and put to paper. Sadly he pointed out how everything that would be of interest to future study was being wholesale burned and destroyed, ships books, manuals, fixtures and fittings.

At the moment I'm fascinated by a diorama of all the ships at Trafalgar, which, I think, was in the long since defunct 'Combined Services Museum'. I'm not sure if he made this, haven't read that far. But there is a small poor photo of it in it's case. I've been aware this existed for a long time, but have only seen similar dated indistinct photos such as this. Does anyone know what happened to it?

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Here in the US the Naval Institute Press recently published The Life and aship Models of Norman Ough.  I assume that this is the same book that you are reading and I really enjoyed it.  Although some of his techniques are somewhat archaic by today’s standards he achieved remarkable results.  Ough was a master of the diorama type display and I particularly enjoyed his discussion of the many small points, some unique to the Royal Navy that can liven up a model.



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Roger, I agree with your brief comments about the Ough book.

By the standards of the time and the very limited resources available to him, he did indeed produce remarkable results. He relied entirely upon his own research at a time when very little was to be found by the normal model builder.

Though his techniques could seem archaic today, the results speak for themselves and have stood the test of time.

I have had the good fortune to see examples of his work at the NMM, London (when their excellent public model collection still existed.) The level of realism and detail is astonishing and is testimony to a man who knew his subject inside and out.

Being displayed near to the 18th century Admiralty Board collection tended to diminish his models to the passing viewer. That's when I learned to appreciate miniatures, best seen in focussed isolation.

Reading the book gives incite (in his own words) into what the man could do with 'normal household' materials and difficult, diligent research in the 1920's and '30's. I would suggest few of us could match his achievements today, even with what is available now

Truly a man of his time, but also a devoted pathfinder and rare genius.

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I remember, as a kid, seeing him and his models in London at Model Engineering exhibitions. I was too young to truly appreciate his work then. He was an odd character who today may have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

Be sure to sign up for an epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series  http://trafalgar.tv

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Oh, you make me LARF 'druxey'

This hobby, like many others, must have an abundance of folk who fit a certain 'spectrum'.

It is a benefit to all of us that they have found such creative and productive ways to focus their skill and attention.

It strikes me that Ough, despite his own domestic issues, could communicate and glean what he needed, from those professionals who gave him the courtesy, time and access essential to his work.

We all have our faults and we should be grateful to be living in societies which give us the freedom to follow our dreams and ambitions, both great and small. Ough certainly gave of his best

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Just finished the Ough book, which is very absorbing. Left with even bigger respect than previously. Autistic or not, my impression is that he was devoted to raising the bar considerably, both in research and pushing the limits of what was possible with the most basic materials and tools, making miniature ships. Also a perceptive humane individual.

A comparable exponent of these methods today, I would suggest, is Robert Wilson. He specialises in merchantmen, both sail and steam. So impressed by Wilsons modestly honest way of doing things, I bought 5 of the e-books he produces yesterday and am skimming through them with interest. Certainly a worthwhile and minimal investment of money. Though not as ambitious as some, he nevertheless produces some lovely models which could be built by almost anyone, without much of a workshop, if not the kitchen table! He deserves a wider audience. Not everyone wants or can build something over a prolonged period of years.

Back to Ough....I was mistaken; the diorama was of all the Grand Fleet ships at Jutland to a scale of 1:1200. Apparently the assembly is in a broken and sorry state in the NMM storage facility. Such a sorry fate.

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