Visit the permanent exhibition of vintage Arthur Ransome photographs at the Pin Mill Studio, depicting the building of Selina King at Harry King’s boatyard in 1938.
About the Exhibition
In 1938 Arthur Ransome decided to build himself a new yacht, and also saw the opportunity of a book in it. He chronicled the build and the launch with a series of photographs, as well as writing up specific episodes.
The boat, the successor to his Nancy Blackett, was named Selina King, and proved to be the largest and finest of the various yachts he owned in his lifetime. She was built at Harry King’s Pin Mill yard and launched in September 1938, but sadly he only got a season’s sailing with her.
Exactly a year later she was laid-up in Oulton Broad for the duration of World War 2. By the time the war was over, Ransome’s health had deteriorated. His doctor advised him she would be too heavy for him the handle, and, reluctantly, he sold her.
He also abandoned the proposed book, but the photos were found among the Ransome archive at Leeds University Library. There are about 60 of them, in black-and-white, and very small – about the size of an old cigarette card.
For the 2017 Arthur Ransome anniversaries the Nancy Blackett Trust, in collaboration with Pin Mill photographic expert Anthony Cullen – and with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant – set out to enlarge a selection of the photos for a permanent exhibition at Anthony’s Pin Mill Studio. The exhibition opened in May.
From high-resolution digital scans, Anthony has cleaned up the images, and revealed the amount of information embedded in each one. “Ransome must have had a camera with a very good lens,” Anthony comments. “He also had a very good eye for composing an image.” The result is a series of 24 images, of A2 size, telling the story of pre-war boat-building at Harry King’s, through the progress of constructing Selina King.
Anthony has also created two very large transparencies on movable frames which can, on occasion, be located at their original viewpoints to show how little Pin Mill has changed over the last 80 years.
Visiting the Exhibition
The Selina King Exhibition at the Pin Mill Studio is usually open from 10:30am to 4pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays, and from 11am to 3pm on Sundays. Admission is free.
However, winter hours may vary and the gallery may be occasionally closed for events, so you may wish to telephone ahead of your intended visit to confirm availability on: 01473 780130
Header photo: Selina King at Pin Mill, 1938. Photo: Arthur Ransome/ The Arthur Ransome Literary Estate/Special Collections, Leeds University Library.