George knocks ship into shape

George McKie with his Warrior replica model
George McKie with his Warrior replica model

A FORMER shipwright is building a model of a historic ship – using wood reclaimed from its restoration.

Pensioner George McKie first started building a model of The Warrior, which famously came to Hartlepool to be restored, when it left the town for Portsmouth in 1987,

Since then, the 78-year-old has been patiently toiling away on his labour of love using the very wood that was stripped from the actual ship itself.

And a tool he is using for the intricate job is a small saw his dad, George Masterton-McKie, bought for him when he was just seven-years-old – a gift that would kick-start a hobby of a lifetime.

The 71-year-old tool has seen George craft the 5ft-long and 8ins-wide model Warrior – as well as dozens of other boats he has created – out of old bits of plywood.

Now, the former shipwright – who started training for his career in the modelling shop at William Gray, in Hartlepool, in 1947, is on with The Warrior’s rigging and says he is about two years off completing the painstaking job.

George, who was married to the late Betty, who passed away six years ago, said: “I started making the model in 1987 and I’ve done it in my spare time ever since, in dribs and drabs.

“I haven’t rushed it, I’ve tried to a good job.

“I’m on with the rigging now but I’m having problems because my eyesight isn’t as good as it was when I started. It’s seeing the blinking knots that’s the problem!”

The dad-of-one and grandad-of-two added: “I picked The Warrior because it’s interesting.

“It is the first ship that was iron-constructed and I was interested in that.

“I’ve made the decks and everything out of oak off the original Warrior that was put in skips. I managed to strip them and clean them up and make parts of the ship out of it.

“I’ve been using my old saw that my dad got me as a present in a kit when I was just seven years old.

“My grandad, Edward McKie, had got me into ship modelling and my dad bought me the set as a present.

“It’s still as good!”

George says he has still got some jobs to do on it yet and reckons it will be complete within two years.

Last month the Mail marked the 25th anniversary of The Warrior leaving Hartlepool following its restoration by teams of town men. It sailed to its current home in Portsmouth where it is on display to the public.

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