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The 16" Commodore cabin cruiser was introduced in 1934 and was the 'middle sister' of a trio of cabin cruisers (see cabin cruiser section for more details). The cabin cruisers were based on the their three 'brothers', the speedboats, but were more intricate with cabins (with a sliding roof) and in the case of Commodore, an intricate handrail around the stern. This made the boats more expensive than the speedboats, and coupled with the fact that boys probably preferred speedboats to cabin cruisers, this makes these boats very rare today.
The paddling pool is still there, so who knows, it may get to sail there again, some 70 years later!
Stuart was given his Commodore in 1944, aged 11. He was very pleased to receive such a toy, but does confess that he would have preferred a speedboat! But there was a war on, and as toy production had ceased some 5 years earlier, a young boy would be lucky to get anything at all! So Stuart was very grateful for his Commodore, which, after all, was (and still is) a rather splendid toy boat.
The boat has been carefully cared for, for over 70 years. It retains the original key, mainly because Stuart kept it inside the cabin when not in use. Ingenious! The cabin cruisers are the only boats that have a 'storage compartment'; this was not a design feature as such, more an accident of design. At some stage very early in its life, the boat lost its bung, so Stuart improvised with a whisky bottle stopper - quite appropriate really as that is exactly what Sutcliffe used....
If you look very carefully you can just make out the 'shadow' of the round foredeck decal; long since gone. (you have to squint!)
A rather nice touch is that the boat is featured in a photograph, taken at Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey in 1945 or 1946. Stuart can date the photo fairly accurately by the fact that he is wearing long trousers; which meant he must have been just over 11 years old (in those days, boys didn't wear long trousers until they went to senior school).
Mum looks on, while the boat (which sits very low in the water) ' is 'steered' with the aid of a walking stick. In the background are the hills of Snowdonia. Below is another picture of the same boating pond, taken in the 1950s.
Stuart very kindly allowed the boat to become part of the CJB Collection; in due course it will get a very careful clean and polish, it may well get a new red bung if it is lucky, and of course it will get a nice new box, but apart from that it'll stay exactly as Stuart sailed it all those years ago....