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Little Nipper

Vessel Number: HV000468
Vessel Dimensions: 3.66 m x 1.52 m x 0.56 m (12 ft x 5 ft x 1.85 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
LITTLE NIPPER is a wooden motor launch from around the 1930s. It was built in Sydney by the Shevill Launch Company, run by two brothers who were well known for building motor launches and racing powerboats in the 1930s. This craft was one of many in its time, and was powered by one of the well known Chapman Pup petrol engines. With few of these craft complete with their engines remaining it represents the early era of affordable recreational boating for the general public.
DescriptionLITTLE NIPPER was identified from the Shevill's builders plate that is featured on the hull's transom. It had been abandoned at the NSW Maritime Services dock on Goat Island, Sydney in 1960, when Jack Hubbard, one of the foreman shipwrights, noted its origins from the plate and decided it could be restored. It was clinker planked in New Zealand kauri, a timber renowned for its longevity even when not well maintained, so it had good potential to be rebuilt.

At 3.66m long and 1.52 m wide, and powered by a Chapman Pup single cylinder petrol engine, (also known as a Blaxland Chapman) it was a compact little craft, which was the principal aim of the builders. They and other small yards around the country had access to mass produced, simple petrol engines and could put these in a basic craft on a trailer, and all at a price that made them more widely available to the general public. This opened up recreational boating to people who now lived in suburbs well away from the water, but had a car. It was the beginning of a trend that expanded as private cars became more common, launches became small powerboats, materials evolved and outboards superceded small inboards.

Hubbard happily used LITTLE NIPPER as he called it for fishing on Sydney Harbour and Lake Macquarie into the 1980s, just as the craft was intended to do in the 1930s when it was built and sold from the Shevill brother’s factory at Sans Souci, on Botany Bay NSW.
Vessel Details
Current status:non-operational
Deck layout:open/foredeck
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:clinkerglued lapstrakelapstrake
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:displacement
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:launch deadwood
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Motor propulsion:inboard
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Motor propulsion:petrol

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