An intricate and immaculate model of one of the shortest-lived ships in Whitby's marine history is expected to fetch up to £7,000 when it is auctioned in London later this week.
The four feet five inches long model, with brass fittings, is of the ill-fated steam ship, Barnby, which was launched in December 1940 – only to be torpedoed less than 18 months later by German U-boat 111 off the Icelandic coast on May 22,1942, in one of the most bizarre nautical incidents of the Second World War.
This was because the Barnby – owned by the Whitby-based Rowland & Marwoods Steamship Company – did NOT sink ! She was on her way back from Canada heavily laden with flour, which swelled up and kept her afloat, so no one quite knows where she lies.
But U boat 111 only survived for another six months before she, too, was destroyed, decisively depth charged.
The model was made by the Barnby's builders, Short Brothers of Sunderland. Their name and that of Rowland & Marwoods is on an attached ivorine plaque.
Lionel Willis, marine models expert at auctioneers Bonhams who are selling the Barnby model in their Marine Sale at Knightsbridge on Wednesday, said: “Builder's models of this period are particularly sought-after because they are very attractive. Early models have fine metal fittings, often silver or silver gilt and gunmetal or brass. The complex derricks and davits open bridgework and detailing all add to the value of the Barnby model. A comparable builder’s model for a vessel from the 1980s for instance, a tanker or a container ship, makes far less at auction.
“Models such as this were made to be presented to the owners by the ship builder usually. They would then have been displayed in the owner’s offices or initially in the boardroom.”