Friday, 22 March 2019

The Arnside Conference

At the weekend  D and I attended an excellent  conference at Arnside with several talks on  Crossfields boats and the contributions of the Crossfields family of boatbuilders. The conference was ably organised by Alasdair Simpson of Arnside Sailing Club, and there were about 60 people present including several owners of Crossfields built boats. Alasdair was presented with an OGA trophy for his efforts in organising the meeting and researching the local boatbuilding industry.

                                                        Alasdair with OGA Award

There were several members of the Crossfields family present, and Eric Crossfield, who is a member of the Old Gaffers also spoke. The boatbuilding business closed down in 1940, and I think they were pleased to see the name is still held in such high regard.

                                                              Eric Crossfield

Its possible to see the site of the boatshed where Bonita was built, although the building has now gone and a couple of semi-detatched houses are being built on the site.  The boatshed was in the middle of the village a little way up a hill from the river, so finished boats were rolled on a trolley down the middle of the street to be launched. They had no way of getting boats back up the hill into the shed, so any repairs or modifications had to be done on the beach between tides. The site of the boatshed seems very small, when one imagines them melting down tons of lead to cast a boats keel, or steaming large planks to bend them into place to make the nobbys characteristic eliptical cockpit coamings. Yet many boats were built here over around a hundred years and established the families reputation for good quality work.
There was a general feeling that the conference was too good to be a 'one-off' so maybe we shall be making a regular pilgrimage to Arnside in future.

Friday, 11 January 2019

An Historic Ship

We recently found that Bonita has been entered into the National Register of Historic Vessels - here is her certificate below.....

This is in recognition of the fact that she is an almost entirely original Victorian yacht: also the oldest Crossfields built boat afloat and possibly the first yacht that Crossfields built - at least she was their first entry in Lloyds yacht register, which was first published in 1878.

For a long time we have been looking for a picture of Edwin Grundy Wrigley, the man who commissioned Bonita and was her first owner. Recently, with the help of Wendy Gradwell, who works for the Bury Archives, we have found the photo below.

Edwin Wrigley was a prosperous local businessman who was part-owner of a large paper mill; he lived in an impressive house on Holme Island which is near Grange over Sands. No doubt William Crossfield would have put his best efforts and finest materials into his first yacht commission for such a prominent local person.  Sadly Wrigley did not live to enjoy sailing Bonita for very long. He died in Cairo in 1892 at the age of 60. Wealthy people at around this time sometimes took a sea voyage by steamship to Egypt when hoping to convalesce from serious illness, and that seems to be the explanation in his case.