Maurice Wilmot enjoyed restoring classic boats and this interest became the springboard for the foundation of the Classic Boat Museum. Whilst sailing Dragons in Cowes, he met Brian Charlesworth, Ian Lallow and members of the Isle of Wight Council. Having looked for a location for his museum on the south coast, Maurice found support on the Isle of Wight and was offered the Newport shed to house his collection. Although Maurice deserves the credit for the founding the museum, his approach was more a boating and social club with emphasis on presenting restored classic yachts at rallies at home and abroad. Kim Lyal, one of the founding trustees ran the Boat Shed, and built up a strong Friends’ Group. She applied for registration (the forerunner of accreditation) which enabled the museum to seek public funding. Rosemary Joy, another founding trustee, built up the Gallery in the Columbine Building, which soon became the “go to” location to donate and view maritime artefacts.
In 2012, the boats moved to the Albany Building in East Cowes, but in 2018 were relocated to the current site at the Medina Yard. The museum retains the use of the Newport site for the storage of third-party boats. During these years, the boat collection has continued to expand and opportunities to restore craft have increased. In the new premises, Green Light offers wood-carving classes to vulnerable adults. The Gallery has recently undergone a major refurbishment with the entire ground floor now devoted to exhibition space. The archives and library have been reorganised on the upper floor with space for visiting researchers and yachting historians.
In 2022 we received the St Catherine's optic at the Boat Shed on long-term loan from Trinity House.
Today the museum continues to go from strength to strength. Collecting classic vessels and unique maritime artefacts reflects the on-going care and dedication of the Trustees and the committed team of volunteers over many years. We would like to thank all the volunteers who have works so enthusiastically over the years to make the museum the exciting place it is today.