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A maritime adventure since 1996

A dream that came true

During a family holiday by the River Thames, Maurice Wilmot discovered his first, and most beloved, restoration project, Flying Spray.


Flying Spray went on to win many awards and now sits at the very heart of the museum exhibits.


Maurice's dream to find a suitable home for his growing collection of unique boats became reality in 1996, with the foundation of the Classic Boat Centre Trust.


Maurice died in 2009 but the Museum and Gallery continue to go from strength to strength. The fine collecting of classic and unique craft and artefacts reflects the on-going care and dedication of the Trustees and of the committed team of volunteers over many years.


Our aim is to raise the awareness of small maritime craft and crafts, showing their historic development.


The Museum exhibits restored boats and associated artefacts, with records of the part played in their construction and design by companies and people of the Isle of Wight in particular.


Wherever possible we aim to keep the collection sea-worthy and used and we welcome any offers of support, in time or money, and offers of craft that may complement and expand our collections in the future.

The East Cowes Gallery Today

The present Gallery is in what was the Columbine Building, an amazing example of British industrial architecture itself.


In the main Gallery you will find the Thornycroft displays, featuring photographs and models related to three generations of that remarkable family.


There are also a number of Robin Board's tiny, detailed models of traditional working boats as well as models and photographs of hovercraft built on the site, including the SRN4.


The Sir Maurice Laing display includes half-models of Bathsheba, Vashti, Loujaine and Clarion of Wight.


The Betty 'Joe' Carstairs display includes many of the trophies won by this extraordinary woman. Known for her eccentric lifestyle, she usually dressed as a man, had tattooed arms and loved machines, adventure and speed.


There is also a 'Great Liners' display, models of racing powerboats, the Trinity House Needles lighthouse, pilot launch and ship in a (lighthouse) lamp bulb as well as George Dexter's large model of the Princess Flying Boat, again built on site.

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