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If you have read the story about Peter's Speedboat, you'll know that in about 1930, Sutcliffe introduced thier smart new range of clockwork speedboats to replace the slow and slightly dangerous 'hot air' boats. Well, at about the same time that Peter received his 12" boat in Nottingham, about 70 miles further north in Leeds, Norman Stephenson was also given a 12" clockwork speedboat. It seems that they were selling well!
Norman Stephenson was born in 1924 and would have been about 6 or 7 years old when he received his shiney new Sutcliffe boat. Norman was the sort of lad who was interested in all things mechanical, so the boat was played with, but also looked after with much care and respect; the sort of care and respect an engineer would have... Look how carefully Normal is holding his boat on the picture below.
'Norman's Speedboat', as it is today - virtually the same as the day it left the factory!
Fast forward another 30 years, and the boat is now in the CJB collection. We are particularly pleased to have this boat in the collection as Chris was born in Arnold, Nottingham and both father and son have fond memories of Tommy Turner's shop on Front Street in the late 70's and early 80's.
We often restore our boats to their original specification if they have been damaged or previously restored either badly or incorrectly. Not this one! It'll be preserved exactly 'as is' as a tribute to the ingenuity of Kenneth Sutcliffe.
The picture above shows Norman (left) on a day out at Peasholme Park in Scarborough in about 1932. This picture is great and really does speak 'a thousand words'. Note the boats that the other children are also holding; the little boy on the right looks to be holding a small Hornby speedboat and the smallest child is grappling with the biggest boat! Is it a Bowman or Hobbies boat? Also notice the ladies 'looking on'!
Normal grew up, but he was clearly heavily influenced by his childhood experiences with his boat and rather fittingly served his apprenticeship as a tool maker in the engineering industry in Leeds. Over the years, he put those skills to good use in a series of excellent model engineering projects, many of which also still survive.
Loretta, a scratch built cabin cruiser, built in the 1950's for his children.
A Steam Boat engine and boiler, scratch built from plans in the 1970's. The only part that Norman didn't make himself, was the pressure gauage.
A little bit about Norman's boat; it is a 12" speedboat from 1931. It is a very early example of the speedboat, with a small twin bladed prop, fold down screen and small rudder. It's missing its box and bung, but is otherwise in excellent condition, thanks to Norman, and now his son Chris. You can read more about the 12" Speedboat (later to become the MINX), here ->
Above - the man himself; Norman Stephenson. The 'Sutcliffe Boy' from 1932 is still very much recognisable in this photograph! Norman died in 2006 and passed the boat onto his son, Christopher. (A name that keeps cropping up relation to Sutcliffe Boats!)
This lovely little boat still remains in the family; Chris, Norman's son, is shown holding the same boat, in the same location in Peasholme Park, some 83 years after the original photograph was taken!
Chris Stephenson, Peasholme Park, 2015.
Norman Stephenson, Peasholme Park, 1932