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Ahoy there landlubbers! Set sail for the National Maritime Museum where the latest free exhibition features some of the most elegant and fascinating toy boats to have ever ventured forth across the mighty duck pond.
This nostalgic collection of traditional miniature yachts, submarines, battleships, paddle steamers and nautical toys is completely charming. I wanted to take them out of the cabinets and play with them. Is it nearly bathtime?
Take your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to see the toy boats: they’ll want to spend the summer holiday making and sailing boats and you can pretend you’re doing it for their benefit.
Need boatbuilding tips? One section of the exhibition explains how toy boats can be powered with clockwork, steam, batteries or rubber bands, so you won’t be totally at sea. There are family workshops at the end of July where little sailors can make their own boats.
Some of my favourite exhibits included a metal Mechano submarine which was full of holes and didn’t look terribly seaworthy, a board game called The Dover Patrol and a tiny deep sea wreck reminiscent of the Titanic which was found at the bottom of the pond in Kensington Gardens when they drained it in 1923. Most of the boats look so realistic that it’s amusing to see a great big key sticking out of the deck for winding up the clockwork engine.
The exhibition opens this Saturday and the National Maritime Museum is holding a special free day of celebrations with 1930s theme, including dressing up, deck games and toy boat experts on hand to answer all your questions.
Admission free. Open daily 10:00 – 17:00, 1 May – 31 October 2010 www.nmm.ac.uk