Glasgow Museums, The Ship Models...

 

... from Seaforth Publications

 

Title: Glasgow Museums, The Ship Models

Author: Emily Malcolm, Michael R. Harrison

Publisher: Seaforth Publications

ISBN: 978-1-5267-5752-4

 

This new large format hardback from Seaforth Publishing is something quite exceptional. What it does, among other things, is catalogue every ship model in the collection of Glasgow Museums, an area that once had one of the major ship-building industries in the world. Sadly that is not the case today, but their legacy is held in the form of a large number of ship models now in the hands of their museums. Some are simple hull forms while others are complete and highly detailed display models.
The first half of this 374-page book tells the story of the collection in the custody of Glasgow Museums. The Introduction provides some excellent history of the collection  and explanations of the various types of model which they contain.  Prepared by Curator Emily Malcolm, who had a significant role with the creation of this book along with Michael R. Harrison, and which has apparently taken over 10 years to come to fruition. Many of the models were donated to the museum by the various ship-building companies that once had their home on the Clyde, and which had such an impact in the rich history of the area. The second chapter looks at the Professional Model Makers, and these include some directly employed by the shipyards, and others which were independent model making companies. Some of the archive photos which illustrate their workshops, the skills on display, and indeed the numbers of people employed, make for fascinating insights. The third chapter considers Amateur Models, and this includes one of my personal favourites, the stunning bone models made by French Napoleonic Prisoners-of-War. I never cease to admire these models of the old sailing warships of the 18/19 centuries, and the work that goes into rigging them in such great detail. Chapter 4 tells us about the major exhibitions that were held in Glasgow, and their importance in attracting customers to the various shipyards. That leaves chapter 5 to provide the story of how the collection was built-up over the years.
The second half of the book then is devoted to providing a catalogue with first-class quality photos of every item in the collection, all 676 of them. They vary from small Puffers, up to huge exhibition models of liners such as the Queen Mary and QE2, along with warships, dredgers, ferries, tankers, general cargo, container ships and more.
From the simple half-hull models used for bidding for contracts to highly detailed exhibition models, the quality of the work need to be seen to be best appreciated. Many provide a useful reminder of how important the early models were to the designers and builders, in a time long before the first computers were even dreamt of. For the modern ship modeller there is a host of inspiration to be had and indeed to encourage many to visit Glasgow and see the collection for themselves. A beautiful book and produced to a high standard by Seaforth Publications.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin