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Henry B. Hornby Ltd. Boat Builders


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Reference ZHH
Covering dates 1929 - 1996
Held by Wirral Archives Service
Extent Two boxes.
Source of acquisition The collection was deposited with Wirral Archives on 7 January 1999 by Mr Hignett. (Accession no. 1433)
Creators Henry B Hornby Ltd, boat builders
Related information See Hignett, H.M, Ancillary Industries of Liverpool SteamshipLines: Current Research in Maritime History: Papers presented at a research day school, Merseyside Maritime Museum (Liverpool Nautical Research Society, 1996)

Administrative history:
History:
Following an apprenticeship with the boat builder, William Dickinson, at a yard at Cathcart Street, Birkenhead, Henry B. Hornby, in c.1901, took over a small boat builders yard near what was later to become the entrance to Bidston Dock and began touting for orders. His first commission was for the building of three river launches for Elder Dempster & Co., formerly the British and West African Steam Navigation Co. An order for surf boats followed, and it was the building of surf boats which became the mainstay of the business.
The surf boats, being required to carry cargo to and from ships, needed to be exceptionally robust in order to withstand heavy knocks on drawing up against ships offshore and on running ashore through the surf. Henry Hornby visited West Africa to study the work and use of the boats and on his return worked with naval architect W. H. Comben on the design of an innovative flexible frame which would minimise the damage caused by striking the large vessels.
In 1923, Henry's former employer, William Dickinson, retired and his boatbuilding firm, which had first been established in 1863, was merged with Henry B. Hornby Ltd. This acquisition brought some additional work to the firm. The business moved to new premises off Gorsey Lane, Wallasey, when the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board proposed that they would require land on which the original premises were situated for the construction of Bidston Dock.
Henry died suddenly in 1924 and his son, Robert, took over the firm. During the 1920s and early 1930s, Hornby began constructing launches for the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board and built several yachts; including sail, auxiliary motor and pure motor vessels. In 1938 Robert was requested by the Admiralty to join an advisory committee to oversee any war production of small craft for the Royal Navy. On the outbreak of hostilities, Robert and his son Albert (his assistant at this time) were prepared to produce small craft for the Royal Navy and lifeboats for the Merchant Navy, in addition to the customary launches for river and harbour service.
After the War, the firm received several orders for Colonial services worldwide and from firms working for the UK and Colonial Governments in small islands isolated from main shipping lines. However by the 1960s the orders received by Hornby for surfboats had begun to decline rapidly, partly due to the fact that Elder Dempster and Co. began to build their own surfboats in West Africa, but also as new ports began to offer wharves and quays for large vessels the need for surfboats disappeared. In addition, new materials such as plastic and glass-reinforced polyester resin were developed for building small craft and multiple unit production became possible without the need for specialist craftsmen.

Contents:
The Wirral Archives Collection consists mainly of photographs of the boats built by Henry B. Hornby Ltd, with a small collection of additional material.
The collection is arranged as follows
ZHH 1: Photographs
ZHH 2: Production records
ZHH 3: Company history records



PHOTOGRAPHS  ZHH 1  [n.d.]

Contents:
The main body of photographs in this collection (ZHH 1/1-62) have been stored in a filing system dividing different types of vessels. These divisions have been retained in this catalogue and the label given to each group of photographs is noted. Most of these photographs are printed as postcards, there are often duplicate copies, they are occasionally printed with the company stamp and are stored in a varnished wooden box indicating that they were used by the firm in marketing and demonstrating the types of vessel available.

Photographs: 'Miscellaneous'.  ZHH 1/1  nd

1 Item

Contents:
Starboard view of launch, under power
Some MS annotation apparently notes for printing
Black and white; 140mm x 90mm

Photographs: 'Figure Head'  ZHH 1/2  nd

9 Copies

Contents:
Photograph in division labelled: 'Figure Head' [possibly mis-filed] showing four identical pleasure boats in yard outside sheds
Black and white; 140mm x 90mm

Photographs: '10ft Motor Pleasure Boats'  ZHH 1/3  nd

Contents:
Including:
Photograph of launch at sea taken from stern, (1 copy)
Photograph of workman working on pleasure boat in wooden water tank bearing "Henry B. Hornby & Co" sign (13 copies)
Photograph of pleasure boat in lake taken from port side, driven by two ladies. (8 copies)
Black and white; 140mm x 90mm

Photographs: '12ft C.B. Sailing Dinghy'  ZHH 1/4  nd

1 Item

Contents:
Photograph of two rigged sailing dinghies on beach
Black and white; 85mm x 129mm

Photographs: '14ft Rowing Skiffs'  ZHH 1/5  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of rowing skiff afloat with man rowing and female passenger. (10 copies)
Photograph of 5 skiffs in a row on harbour side (6 copies.)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: '14ft Patrol Launch'  ZHH 1/6  nd

Contents:
This group is empty

Photographs: '16ft Launch S.C.O.A.'  ZHH 1/7  nd

Contents:
Including:
Stern view of launch under power (19 copies)
Front view of launch under power (6 copies)
Starboard view of launch under power (17 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 90mm

Photographs: '16ft Aux. Sloop'  ZHH 1/8  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of sloop under power, with docks in background (7 copies)
Front view of sloop under power, with ships and docks in background (15 copies)
Black and white; 90 x 140mm

Photographs '16ft Motor Duck Punt.'  ZHH 1/9  nd

Contents:
Including:
View from above, at anchor (2 copies).
View from stern, under power (1 copy)
Port view, under power (2 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: 'Trinity House 18 Footer.'  ZHH 1/10  nd

Contents:
This section is empty

Photographs: '19ft Pilot Boarding Launch'  ZHH 1/11  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of launch under power (9 copies)
Starboard view of launch under power, with canopies up (15 copies)
Black and white; 85mm x 135mm

Photographs: '20ft Dock Launch.'  ZHH 1/12  nd

Contents:
Including:
View of 6 launches in a row, under power, at dock entrance (4 copies)
View of 6 launches in a row, turning in dock (5 copies)
Black and white; 90mm x 140mm

Photographs: '21 ft Dock Launch'  ZHH 1/13  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view of launch in dock, under power (12 copies)
Starboard view of launch in dock, under power (11 copies)
Black and white; 85mm x 135mm

Photographs: '21ft Dock Launch Crsr Stern'  ZHH 1/14  nd

Contents:
Including
Stern view of launch under power (6 copies)
Port view of launch under power (2 copies)
Black and white; 70mm x 85mm

Photographs: '21ft Pilot Launch "Nantyr"'  ZHH 1/15  nd

Contents:
Including
Stern view of launch, under power, with canopies up (4 copies)
Port view of launch, under power, with canopies up (1 copy)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '22ft Hard Service Launch.'  ZHH 1/16  nd

11 Copies

Contents:
Port view of launch, under power
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '22ft Cruiser, "Babette"'  ZHH 1/17  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of cruiser, under power (4 copies)
Stern view of cruiser, under power (5 copies)
Black and white; 140mm x 85mm

Photographs: '22ft Cruiser, "Marae"'  ZHH 1/18  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of cruiser, under sail, docklands in background (2 copies)
Starboard view of cruiser, under sail, docklands and trawler in background (1 copy)
Starboard view, under sail (jib only), lakeside in background (positive and negative print).
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '22ft Motor Sailer, "Thalassa".'  ZHH 1/19  nd

4 Copies

Contents:
Port view of motor sailer, under power, dockside in background
Black and white; 130mm x 80mm

Photographs: '24ft Launch for Cruising Star'  ZHH 1/20  nd

Contents:
Starboard view of launch, under power (5 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '24ft Aux. C.B. Sloop, "Spindrift"'  ZHH 1/21  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of sloop; under sail (9 copies)
Port view; under power (1 copy)
Black and white; 80mm x 135mm

Photographs: '24ft Motor Survey and Sounding Launch, "Scout"'  ZHH 1/22  nd

Contents:
Photographs of survey and sounding launch; with MS annotations on reverse of one photograph: 'L.M.S. Rly Co.
Fitted with filler controlled kitchen reversing rudder. 24'0 x 7'0 x 3'3 x 2'0 draught. 9 HP Thornycroft. Handy Billy Engine. 6.47 knots.'
Including:
Port view; under power, Hornby flag flying at stern. (7 copies)
Port/stern view under power; Hornby flag flying at stern. (11 copies)
Port view under power; Hornby flag flying at stern: with large sailing ship in background. (14 copies)
Starboard view under power; Hornby flag flying at stern. (14 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '26ft Weekend Cruiser'  ZHH 1/23  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of cruiser, under power (14 copies)
Stern view of cruiser, under power (10 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: '26ft Passenger Launch'  ZHH 1/24  nd

Contents:
This section is empty

Photographs: '26ft Standard Launch.'  ZHH 1/25  nd

Contents:
Including:
Stern view of launch, under power, with Hornby flag flying at rear and on roof (5 copies)
Port view of launch, under power. (2 copies).
Port view of launch, under power, with other vessels in background (6 copies)
Black and white; 130mm x 85mm

Photographs: '27ft Fast Day Boat, Waterwitch'  ZHH 1/26  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of day boat under power with canopy (1 copy)
Rear view of day boat under power with canopy (1 copy)
Rear view of day boat under power with canopy down (1 copy)
Starboard view of two day boats under power, flying Hornby flags (1 copy)
Starboard view of day boat under power, flying Hornby flag (6 copies)

Photographs: '28ft Customs Launch, "Seabird"'  ZHH 1/27  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view, under power, flying Hornby flag (5 copies)
Starboard view, under power, flying Hornby flag (2 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: '28ft Aux. Cutter, "Nanette"'  ZHH 1/28  nd

1 Copy

Contents:
Photograph of cutter under sail, docklands in background
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: '28ft Launch, "Parana".' This group is empty  ZHH 1/29  nd

Photographs: '29ft Fast Cabin Launch, "Interlude"'  ZHH 1/30  c.1938

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of launch under power, flying Hornby flag (1 copy)
Port view of launch under power, flying Hornby flag (6 copies)
Envelope of three views of "Interlude" being towed on a trailer, labelled 'June 1938' (3 items)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm/85mm x 60mm

Photographs: rolled strips of photographs of boats  ZHH 1/31  nd

1 roll containing 31 photographs

Contents:
Strip of photographs of boats under power and in yard, with labels:'10m Ferry Peel' 'Nuffield Trust' 'Dorman Long, Runcorn.'

Envelope of photographs of 22 foot cruiser "Lavinia"  ZHH 1/32  nd

3 Items

Contents:
Three views of Lavinia under power
Black and white; 110mm x 65mm

Photographs: '28ft Motor Lifeboat (equipped with radio).'  ZHH 1/33  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view of lifeboat under power (14 items)
Starboard view of lifeboat under power (12 items)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: '28ft Culler, "Corsair"'. This group is empty  ZHH 1/34  nd

Photographs: '28ft 6" Weekend Cruisers "Gipsy" "Kathmar"'  ZHH 1/35  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of 'Gypsy', under power, flying Hornby flag (11 items)
Starboard view of 'Gypsy' under power, flying Hornby flag with other vessels in background (1 copy)
Envelope labelled "Gypsy" containing photographs of the 'Gypsy' and passengers and views taken from the boat whilst under way. [Envelope is printed with Henry B Hornby & Co crest and address] (5 items.)
Starboard view of "Kathmar" underway flying Hornby flag (3 copies)
Black and white

Photographs: '29ft 6" Service Launch, "Adara".'  ZHH 1/36  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port/stern view, under power (9 items)
Port view, under power (11 items)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: 'Manchester. 31ft M. Officers Launch, "Hygeia"'  ZHH 1/37  nd

1 Item

Contents:
Port view of the 'Hygeia' under power with Hornby flag flying
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '30ft Fast Inspection Launch.'  ZHH 1/38  nd

Contents:
Including:
Stern/port view, under power (7 copies)
Port view under power (6 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs of boat, "Kilrea", unlabelled  ZHH 1/39  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view, under power (8 items)
Front view, under power (7 items)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '30ft Cunard Ships Tender.'  ZHH 1/40  nd

1 Item.

Contents:
Stern/port view of tender, under power, with cargo
Black and white; 90mm x 65mm

Photographs: '30ft 6" Motor Sailer, "Ronalin".'  ZHH 1/41  nd

1 Item.

Contents:
View of the 'Ronalin' under sail
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '31 ft Fish Carrying Launch.'  ZHH 1/42  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view, under power (4 items)
Port view under power (3 items)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Envelope of photographs entitled "Kanfla"  ZHH 1/43  1948

Contents:
Envelope containing three photographs One photograph is view of the 'Kanfla' in [Africa], underway with crew, with MS annotation on reverse: 'Kanfla 1948. given to us 22/2/49 by Mr Johnson'. Two further photographs of row of four crewed boats, underway in [Africa], linked by ropes.
Black and white

Card division for photographs: '31ft Fishing Boat, "Seapro".'  ZHH 1/44  nd

Contents:
There are no photographs in this group.

Photographs: '31ft Motor Surf Boat, "Grace".'  ZHH 1/45  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view of surf boat, underway (9 copies)
Port view, underway (7 copies)
Black and white; 140mm x 90mm

Photographs: '32ft 6" x 9ft, Customs Launch, "Lark".'  ZHH 1/46  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard/front view of the 'Lark' underway (2 copies)
Port view of the 'Lark' underway (1 copy)
Stern view of the 'Lark' underway
Black and white; 130mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: 'Cruiser?'  ZHH 1/47  nd

Contents:
This group is empty. The card has the label '34 Foot Aux. Ketch Melody' crossed out, and the MS annotation 'Cruiser?'

Photographs: '34ft Aux. "Mersey" Ketch.'  ZHH 1/48  nd

Contents:
Including:
Colour tinted postcard of photograph of the 'Mersey' under sail, printed with label and 'A Hornby Production' (74 copies)
Black and white view of 'Mersey' as above. (2 copies).
Colour/Black and white; 135mm x 90mm

Photographs: '35ft Cruiser, "Research I".'  ZHH 1/49  nd

16 Copies

Contents:
Including:
Two port views of cruiser, underway
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs:'36ft Surf Boat.' There are no items in this group  ZHH 1/50  nd

Photographs:'35ft Fishing Launch, "Ferida".'  ZHH 1/51  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of 'Ferida' underway (8 copies)
Port/stern view of 'Ferida' underway (6 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm.

Card division for photographs: '35ft Adty. "Pinnace".' There are no items in this group  ZHH 1/52  nd

Photographs: '38ft T.S.M.Y. "Derson".'  ZHH 1/53  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view of the 'Derson' underway (11 items)
Stern view of the 'Derson' underway (9 items)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: '39ft Motor Tug, "Trojan".'  ZHH 1/54  nd

Contents:
Stern view of 'Trojan', underway, with canopy
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '39ft Tug & Pass. Launch, "Titan".'  ZHH 1/55  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view of launch, underway, with canopy (6 copies)
Starboard view of launch, underway, with canopy (11 items)
Stern/starboard view of launch, underway, with canopy (5 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: '40ft Medical Officer Launch.'  ZHH 1/56  nd

1 Item.

Contents:
Starboard view of launch, underway. With MS annotation on reverse '40 foot med off launch T.P.H.A.'
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '43ft T. S. Yacht, "Schalime"'  ZHH 1/57  nd

3 Copies

Contents:
Starboard view of yacht, under power
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Card division for photographs: '40ft Passenger Launch.'  ZHH 1/58  nd

Contents:
There are no items in this group

Photographs: '45ft Motor Surf Barge.'  ZHH 1/59  nd

2 Copies

Contents:
Starboard view of surf barge, underway with canopy
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: '45ft Cruiser (model).'  ZHH 1/60  nd

1 Copy

Contents:
Port view of model of cruiser 'Sea Nymph' underway
135mm x 90mm

Photographs: '55ft. Motor Surf Barge, (Semra)'  ZHH 1/61  nd

Contents:
Including:
Port view of the 'Semra' moored (5 copies)
Front/port view of the 'Semra' moored (5 copies)
Black and white; 135mm x 90mm

Photographs: '65ft T.S. Cruiser.'  ZHH 1/62  nd

Contents:
Including:
Front view of cruiser underway leaving stone harbour (9 copies)
Port view of cruiser underway (1 copy)
Black and white; 140mm x 90mm

Envelope of photographs: '22ft fast launch, 520 Thorneycroft'  ZHH 1/63  nd

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of launch, underway (3 copies)
Port view of launch, underway (1 copy)
Photographs have MS annotations on reverse: '22'-0 x 6'-3 fast launch. Austin Skipper 60 BHP. 15½ knots'
Envelope has additional annotation: 'Mr Comden (naval architect) (always wore trilby)'
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: 26' surf boat  ZHH 1/64  nd

Contents:
Photograph of surf boat in yard on blocks
Labelled on reverse: '26' surf boat, West African Section WEMBLEY EXHIBITION'
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: 37' passenger surf boat  ZHH 1/65  nd

Contents:
Photograph of aerial view of surf boat on trailer in yard
Black and white; 85mm x 125mm

Photographs: 22 ft cruiser 'Dora'  ZHH 1/66  1952

1 Copy

Contents:
Including:
Starboard view of 'Dora' underway on river
Stern view of 'Dora' underway on river, pulling tender.
Black and white; 160mm x 105mm

Photograph of 'Nosila'  ZHH 1/67  1946

Contents:
Photograph of front end of the 'Nosila', in yard ? being fitted with mast
Black and white; 80mm x 60mm

Photograph: motor lifeboat and working launch for Trinity House  ZHH 1/68  nd

Contents:
Photograph of launch 'Patricia' underway, with MS annotation on reverse:' Motor lifeboat and working launch for Trinity House. 26.5' x 8.5' x 4.25' x abt 2.75'0 ft. Thornycroft rtr 4 30 HP diesel engine with 2/1reduction gear'
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: 28'6" weekend cruiser 'Gypsy'  ZHH 1/69  nd

Contents:
Port view of 'Gypsy' underway
Black and white; 55mm x 90mm

Photograph: '14ft patrol launch'  ZHH 1/70  nd

Contents:
Starboard view of patrol launch underway, with rowing pleasure boats in background.
With MS annotation: 'Illustration no.3 14ft patrol launch, New Brighton ?lake'
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photograph: '9'6 x 4'0 beam motor pleasure boat'  ZHH 1/71  nd

Contents:
Starboard view of motor pleasure boat underway, with rowing pleasure boats in background.
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Christmas card from Tranmere Sailing club featuring photograph of cruiser.  ZHH 1/72  1952

Contents:
Card printed with Tranmere Sailing Club logo on outer cover and featuring photograph of the 'Darthula II' under sail inside. From Nell and Stuart Tod 'to all who built her'.

Photograph: '26ft surfboats on way for shipment'  ZHH 1/73  1937

Contents:
Photograph of surfboats being transported on horse-drawn carts through dock-side streets. MS annotation on reverse: 'for SS Smedon 15 August 1937'
Black and white 195mm x 145mm

Photograph: '38ft T.S. Motor Yacht 'Derson''  ZHH 1/74  1938

Contents:
Port view of the 'Derson' underway
Black and white; 135mm x 85mm

Photographs: surf boats in Africa  ZHH 1/75  c.1927

12 Items

Contents:
Group of photographs showing surfboats in use in Africa, including:
Single photograph labelled: 'Surf boats landing cargo Accra 1927'
Set of 11 photographs of surfboats in use on African coast; several photographs are labelled 'Accra', one photograph has label 'Saltpond'
Black and white

Photographs: '?Rutherforde 32ft launch'  ZHH 1/76  nd

3 Items

Contents:
Views of launch from above in yard. MS annotations on reverse '?Keith Nelson type'
Black and white

Photograph: Seapro  ZHH 1/77  nd

Contents:
Port view of 31 ft launch 'Seapro' underway
Black and white
130mm x 80mm

Photograph: 35 ft sailing vessel  ZHH 1/78  nd

Contents:
Stern view of 35 ft sailing vessel under power
Black and white
80mm x 130mm

Photograph: figurehead  ZHH 1/79  nd

Contents:
View of ship's figurehead ?in yard
Black and white
85mm x 135mm

Photograph: oars, sculls and paddles  ZHH 1/80  nd

Contents:
View of set of oars, sculls and paddles with sign: 'Hornby's patent oars, sculls and paddles. Strongest, lightest and cheapest. Made in two parts to allow the blades or looms being renewed'
Black and white
140mm x 85mm

Collection of photographs: boats built by Hornby]  ZHH 1/81  nd

30 Items

Contents:
Unlabelled photographs of motor and sailing vessels underway or in yard, presumably built by Henry B. Hornby Ltd. Some photographs may duplicate items in ZHH 1/1-62
Black and white; various sizes.

PRODUCTION RECORDS  ZHH 2  [n.d.]

Sample of carved wooden finish  ZHH 2/1  nd

Contents:
Mounted sample of carved wooden strip illustrating finish reproduced by Henry B. Hornby Ltd for repair work on Gypsy caravans. With MS notes.

COMPANY HISTORY  ZHH 3  [n.d.]

Slides illustrating company history  ZHH 3/1  nd

Contents:
Set of acetate slides for overhead projector presentation on history of Henry B. Hornby Ltd, including section of map; technical drawings of [surf] boat construction; ground plan of the Gorsey Lane yard and photographs

Booklet: Current Research in Maritime History  ZHH 3/2  1996

Contents:
Papers presented by members of the Liverpool Nautical Research Society at a Research Day School, Merseyside Maritime Museum 10 February 1996.
Includes paper by H.M Hignett: 'Ancillary Industries of Liverpool Steamship Lines' with section on history of Henry B. Hornby Ltd pp49-51

[Items ZHH 3/3 and 3/4 were added to the collection in 2002 by A.E. Hornby, WestKirby]  [no ref. or date]

Copy: West Kirkby Sailing Club history  ZHH 3/3  1985

Contents:
Copy of pages from Anything but sailing: A history of West Kirby Sailing Club by John Millar, with marked reference to Hornby.

Copy: pages from Merseyside Maritime Museum ship and boat collection catalogue  ZHH 3/4  1980

Contents:
Copy of pages from The ship and boat collection: Merseyside Maritime Museum by Matthew Tanner, including boats made or similar to those made by Hornby. With some explanatory notes added by A.E. Hornby.

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The records described on this page are held by Wirral Archives Service