Arthur 'Len' Tucker
In 1972, Len Tucker, a curator in the plans department of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and John Bowen, a naval architect working on the Thames, launched what was to become the pre-eminent international quarterly magazine on model shipbuilding - Model Shipwright.
In the early winter of 1975, by way of ‘practising what you preach’, they decided to form a society with the aim of building model ships to a very high and accurate standard both for static display and for sailing under sail or power.
The philosophy of these founder members was to encourage the regular meeting together of ship modellers who had a creed of seeking perfection, accuracy in detail and scale combined with fine craftsmanship. At the same time, they recognised that whilst they and their close associates might already have the expertise to achieve these heights, there was much to be done by way of encouraging and supporting young and inexperienced model makers to aspire to reach these ideals. That approach has remained with the Society to the present day and is reflected in the on-going development of this website which offers helpful advice to new members through its Logs, links to other ship model organisations and in the future an online workshop..
The embryo Society held its first meeting in October 1975 at Bromley in Kent. Monthly meetings were established and later a Monthly Log was created so that all members would be aware of what models were being discussed and what events were planned. These events included ‘pond’ sessions for those whose interest lay with working models, visits to places of maritime interest and a biennial exhibition. More recently several members have turned their hand to Marine Painting and their efforts are included in the Society’s exhibitions.
Down the years many members have exhibited their work at major model making exhibitions; the most notable among these being the annual Model Engineer Exhibition, now the International Model Show. On many occasions, members have won gold awards. The top award of all, the Duke of Edinburgh Cup, is normally awarded to an engineering model but, it was won by a member of the Society on two occasions: once for an outstanding model of the Tribal Class Destroyer HMS Ashanti and once for a model of the 17th Century 60 gun ship Resolution - made entirely of wood - such was the quality of work and research. Members have continued to exhibit at this show to the present day. In 2000 the Society celebrated its 25th Anniversary. This occasion was awarded a special exhibition and a commemoration booklet illustrating the Society’s meetings, sailing days, exhibitions, the various classes of models built and marine painting
With 60 members, many of them living far away from the Society’s base in Kent and therefore unable to attend monthly meetings, a new departure has been the establishment of a Southwest Branch. This branch held its first two meetings in 2019, one in Somerset the other at Salisbury, the latter attracting 35 guests as well as members of the public. Members of the Society attended from as far away as Rutland, Kent and Cornwall. It is this spread of membership that has prompted the development of our website as a tool to link members together and enable all to share in the activities of the Society. The site is not yet complete. Further work will provide for public access to an improved series of links to other organisations concerned with the construction of ship models and the plans, tools and materials to build them as well as museums and publications. It is also proposed, for members only, that there should be a workshop site, possibly a forum and via a private 'YouTube' account, videos demonstrating modelmaking techniques. It is our expectation that the web-site and the internet will play an increasingly large part in the day to day business of the Society and that at some point in the future it will be possible to hold meetings on-line and in doing so, view each other’s models in detail whilst discussing them using internet communications.