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Boat trip rekindles model love affair

PUBLISHED: 22:00 02 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:08 03 March 2010

A BOAT trip down the Orwell inspired an Ipswich model-maker to come out of retirement for one last creation.

Russell Clarke, 74, and his wife Gwen, 70, took a cruise ride onboard the Orwell Lady in August, to celebrate a relative's birthday.

A BOAT trip down the Orwell inspired an Ipswich model-maket to come out of retirement for one last creation.

Russell Clarke, 74, and his wife Gwen, 70, took a cruise ride onboard the Orwell Lady in August, to celebrate a relative's birthday.

Russell was so impressed with the way the crew looked after his wife, who has had a stroke, and the journey from Ipswich to Harwich that he decided to rekindle his 45 year long love affair with model-making.

The retired machine setter, from Boyton Road, Ipswich, had given up his craft to care for his wife, but felt compelled to get back into his workshop to create a last masterpiece.

His career as a model-maker has seen him tour all over the county, visiting hospitals to entertain patients with his scale replicas, he also appeared on television with Christine Webber on About Anglia in 1978.

The model-maker, while still on board the cruise, asked for a copy of the plans of the ship, they were duly delivered to him by the ship's owner, Paul Magnus.

Russell then worked from them to develop a complex set of calculations, to convert the 56 feet and 3 inch long boat into a 15 and a half inch long model. Russell also worked from a series of 14 photographs to help achieve the level of detail that he is known for.

Russell began work on his Orwell Lady in mid-August and completed it two weeks ago.

The body of the vessel was constructed using: Plywood, stripped Spruce, brass and copper wire, cocktail and match sticks. With painstaking attention to detail, Mahogany sheets were used to make the doors and Satin cloth for the seats and curtains.

Gwen, before her stroke, used to help out with Russell's model-making by doing the miniature upholstery, but the Lady Orwell was all Russell's own work, except when he ran into a problem with getting the lettering right.

Son-in-law, John, 51, was recruited to save the day with modern technology - his computer.

Russell has decided that the Orwell Lady really is the end of his model-making career.

He explained: "It's my last one, as I'm 74 now, and I have 30 models and have run out of room in the house for them."

He also wants to be able to concentrate fully on caring for his wife, and no longer has time for the labour-intensive nature of model-making, he often found himself pottering away for up to 6 hours a day on his creations.

He is still able to satisfy his love of being busy by keeping several canaries.

Dimensions of Orwell Lady. (not model) Dimensions of model

Overall length: 56 feet 3 inches Overall length: 15 inches

Width: 14 feet 2 inches Width: 4 and a half inches

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