News from Ivan Corlett for March 2016

  • A chip off the old block

    10:41 15 March 2016
    By Ivan Corlett

    Sidney the Sea Serpent has returned to Coniston having been completely recarved, painted and gilded by Peter Hall & Son over the winter period -  a rather unusual commission for our local craftsmen.

    Here is the old Sid arriving at Peter Hall’s workshop in nearby Staveley last December.

    The old Sidney arriving at Peter Hall & Son

    This is not the first time Peter Hall & Son have been involved with Gondola. About 14 years ago they did some major work in the First Class saloon - lining the ceiling with calico and supporting it with wooden vaults as well as reupholstering the seating in plush red buttoned fabric, thus reinstating the saloon to the way it had been in its original form.

    Refurbished first class saloon

    They’ve also done repair work on the old Sidney in the past, replacing rotten wood and re-gilding Sid.

    Further repair work this time was not practical because of the amount of rot to Sid. So a new Sid was needed. The first step saw blocks of English oak glued and cramped together to form a rough 'blank' from which the new serpent could be carved.

    English oak blank for the new Sid

    Whilst work was going on, the old Sid was never very far away, keeping an eye on developments.

    Here are the old and new Sids lying side by side (or perhaps more appropriately, Sid by Sid).

    Old and new side by side

    Once the body of the new Sid had been carved, the next step was to create his scales using a 'V' tool to cut the grooves of the cross hatches.

    Carving Sid's scales

    The final step was to give Sid his golden coat, firstly by applying numerous coats of yellow paint and then covering him in gold leaf.

    Gilding work begins on Sid

    After much careful gilding work, the new Sid was complete. The finished serpent is seen here with his creator, Ian, who I think you'll agree, has done a magnificent job.

    Sid and his creator, Ian

    Ian and the team brought the new Sid back to Gondola just in time for the start of the season. Here they are fixing him back on the prow of the boat.

    The new Sid takes his place on Gondola

    Most of the work on Sid has been paid for through generous donations from friends and admirers of Gondola. We’re still £1,500 short of what we need to meet our target, so the fundraising is still going on. 

    Find out how you can Support Sidney.

News from Ivan Corlett

Photo of Ivan Corlett

Steam Yacht Gondola Crewman.

While working as a Fix The Fells volunteer on the upland paths, cold & soaked through, I saw the beautiful sight of Gondola way below on Coniston Water, so with a background of deep sea marine engineering and steam I thought that would be a nice, warm, dry place to be!

I applied to join the crew in 2008, got the job and have never looked back. I absolutely love it, but the real pleasure is meeting and talking to so many lovely people from all around the world.