Arthur Ransome's Selina King build photography in Pin Mill.

POSTED ON: 12/05/2017

The Nancy Blackett Trust has received £8,300-plus from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its project to present Arthur Ransome’s own photos of the building of his yacht Selina King at Pin Mill, Suffolk, in 1938.
Delivery of the Iron Keel to Pin Mill, the bottom of the boat.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the photographs will go on permanent display at the Pin Mill Studio on May 13 as part of the riverside hamlet’s ‘Jamboree’ marking the start of a summer-long celebration of the local author who died 50 years ago this year. They were originally taken by the author as part of a plan to write a book about building the boat that was to be the successor to Nancy Blackett. They were discovered in an album in the Ransome archive in the Brotherton Library Special Collection at Leeds University.

Pushing Selina King down the slip way at Pin Mill.

The black-and-white prints, smaller than cigarette cards, at less than 3x2 in (7.5x5cm) had to be processed by the Brotherton’s digitisation department as extra-high-resolution 1200dpi tiff files, before being sent to the NBT. They have since been further processed by NBT member and photographer Anthony Cullen to enhance detail and remove dust particles, and enlarge them over 60 times to A2 sized exhibition prints.

He has also selected two images to be blown up even further to 4ft wide AO size prints on transparent acrylic sheets to be mounted where they can be seen from the point of view of the photographer, with the present-day Pin Mill scene behind them. “It’s remarkable how little things have changed in the last 80 years,” he comments. “These photos really connect Pin Mill to its boatbuilding past.”

Selina King heading the slipway at Pin Mill.

The Nancy Blackett Trust was originally set up 20 years ago to secure the preservation of Arthur Ransome’s yacht Nancy Blackett, which he featured  (as the Goblin) in his classic children’s novel We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. NBT president Peter Willis said, “We regard this project as an important extension of our work to preserve Ransome’s maritime heritage and celebrate his connection with the East Coast.” Plans are in hand to develop educational materials for local schools, and there is a future possibility of a book based on the photos and the text Ransome completed about the building.

Mrs Ransome looking out on the river, sat on Selina King docked in Pin Mill.

Commenting on the HLF award, Peter Willis added: “We’re delighted to have received this funding thanks to National Lottery players, and are very pleased to be able to use it to bring this part of its history back to the local community.”

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