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British Revenue Lugger, “Alarm”

British Revenue Lugger, “Alarm”, around 1782
Georgian Model
Great Britain
boxwood, fruitwood, brass, silk, paper, glass
model: 37.0 x 60.0 x 9.0 cm
The Thomson Collection © Art Gallery of Ontario

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models Audio Tour

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Download: 1:55 min / 768 KB MP3

Simon Stephens: An interesting point of these models is that some of them have been displayed with their cases, which is interesting in itself. Because sometimes cases very rarely survive, especially as a result of fashions. The fashion in furniture changes, so people alter things.

But when a model has been cased, this can elongate its life by many, many years. This particular example of the Alarm, which is a revenue cutter, is in its original case, which in itself is quite rare.

You’ll notice that the model is sunk into the case and is mounted on mirrors, or mirrored glass. That gives you the opportunity to study the underside of the hull, the shape of the hull at the bow and the stern. Now this particular example, this ship was built in clinker fashion.

That is to say that the planking on the hull was overlapping as opposed to (carvel), which as edge to edge planking. Clinker was preferred for these types of vessel because it was very light, but very strong. And these vessels had to be very strong and light and fast. They were employed in the revenue service for chasing smugglers who were trying to import stuff illegally into the UK without paying their dues.

A very important point about this model is the fact that it’s still got its original sails rigged to the masts and yards. This is extremely rare. We think the sails are made of silk, which in itself is very susceptible to the UV degradation. And it's also complete with an original flag flying from the ensign's staff ’ the revenue services flag.

It’s also fully gunned all along the deck with small cannon and carriage. It’s also carrying spare topmasts and yards along the deck. This is a huge amount of sail area to be carried by a vessel of this size.

We’re also very fortunate to have the original design drawing of the ship, which is displayed nearby.

The model is built at the same scale as the drawing, 1:48 scale, which was the standard pattern for the time, in the late 18th century.

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