Now his collection is housed in a curiosity shop of wonders as he sells everything from hand-made model ships to rare Victorian taxidermy.
The Ship Shop is a treasure trove of explorer’s wonders, proving popular with coastal visitors in search of nostalgic finds.
For Mr Hewitt it has always been about a craftsman’s art and appreciating the talent and skill that goes into it.
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“I’ve always been interested in hand-made things,” he said. “It’s anything and everything. People love art and they love different types of art.”
Some 40 years ago Mr Hewitt began selling oil paintings, with those of classic French scenes proving among the most popular.
With the taxidermy, which he began 30 years ago, many of the pieces date back generations.
But it is the miniature ships with original cloth sails that draw the eye, having undergone the kind of careful restoration that only a seaside enthusiast can employ.
“Some must be 100 years old, though they’re not dated,” said Mr Hewitt. “There’s hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work that have gone into them.”
Mr Hewitt, now 70, is a father of two and grandfather of six who began his salesman career on the South Bay selling shells outside Scarborough Lifeboat Station.
Care and attention
With his partner, Janet, he said he has “worked his way up Eastborough” to The Captain’s House, which is now home to the gallery and the Ship Shop and his taxidermy sales.
Some of the miniature ships in the shop are more modern, crafted from kits or from newer materials.
Others are “scratch built”, with tiny bits of wood shaved to size to form every bit of planking along their bulwarks.
“A lot of them take an awful lot of time to build,” he said.
“I can repair them a bit but I haven’t the patience to build them,” he added. “It’s just something I like and that I appreciate and that I hope other people can appreciate.”
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