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Towns Clinker Scull

Vessel Number: HV000473
Date: c 1930
Previous Owner: Murrell family ,
Vessel Dimensions: 7.92 m (26 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
The clinker rowing scull built by George Towns at Gladesville NSW early in the 1930s is one of only two craft he made using clinker construction. The great majority of wooden sculls are planked in a thin veneer, and this is both a rare Australian example of a clinker hull, and understood to be one of few built anywhere else in the world. Towns was one of the principal scull and shell builders from the 1920s until the 1960s, and this was built specifically as a training craft for a much heavier than normal rower.
DescriptionGeorge Towns & Sons had a shed on the Parramatta River on Wharf Rd Gladesville. He was commissioned to build this clinker scull for a Sydney judge who weighed about 210 kgs, ( 15 stone 2 lbs), which is probably over double the weight of a normal rower for a single scull. The clinker construction with its laps and thicker planking gave a stronger hull than a thin veneer, and it was made wider and deeper to accommodate the increased weight of the hull and rower. It is planked in Queensland red cedar, and the original cedar planked deck was replaced in 1956 by Towns with cedar faced plywood. It is 7.92 m long (26 feet) and weighs about 25 kgs (55 lbs). Towns is known to have built at least one other clinker scull which is no long extant.

The judge only used the scull a few times before it was sold to John L. Murrell for 10 pounds. He was a member and later Captain of the North Shore Rowing Club. The boat was stored at the North Shore Rowing Club for many years and after Murrell died in 1947 it remained there but was then used by several members of the club. In 1960 club member Garry Lambert had the shell repaired by George Towns at a cost of twenty two pounds, seven & tuppence, an indication of the change in times since the early 1930s.

David Murrell, the son of John Murrell also rowed the boat when he was in Sydney on occasional visits in the 1960s. Eventually the club was short of room and asked that the boat be stored elsewhere. The boat was then stored under his sister's house until 1983 when it was taken to Gladstone, Qld where David Murrell lived. A thorough inspection showed some areas of dry rot and other damage and a full restoration was undertaken. The decks were removed along with the 1960 varnish from the outside and the original shellac from the inside. New rubbing strips, rigger arms and cedar ply decking were made and the hull treated with Everdure to prevent further dry rot. The hull was repainted with single pack marine polyurethane in 1996 and is currently in good condition.

It is understood to be a very stable boat and is easy and comfortable boat to sit in. There is even a lunch box in the hull capable of carrying a sandwich and a bottle of beer. While its speed cannot compare with smaller racing boats it glides well and is very easy to row for long distances. Currently John Murrell's granddaughter rows the craft at Foster in NSW.

Vessel Details
Current status:operational
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hull material and construction:clinkerglued lapstrakelapstrake
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:other

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