Model master scales down boat projects

AN AMATEUR model-maker who has recreated some of the greatest ships in history has unveiled his last major project – an Egyptian funeral boat.

Retired welder George Scammell has insisted that, at 83 years old, mortality was not on his mind when he embarked on the four-foot-long model based on the boats the ancient Egyptians used to ferry the dead to their tombs and beyond.

He admitted, however, that he would now be forced to scale down his projects in future after nearly 60 years of model-making.

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Mr Scammell said: "This latest model has taken me four months and my son insists I'm getting a bit too old for it all now, but I've told him that he's talking nonsense. I still intend to make models but they will be a lot smaller than this one.

"I started out making small trawler boats, as my dad was a trawlerman, and that's probably what I'll go back to now."

Mr Scammell has spent his life building eight-foot-long models of Leith's most historic ships.

He worked as a welder for the engineering firm Bruce Peebles, which helped build many of the vessels which sailed from the city's harbours.

Some of his most intricate creations – models of the Great Michael and the Lion of Scotland – were given to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, where they are now on permanent display.

Others have been bought by private collectors or museums.

Mr Scammell has also completed models of more modern ships such as the Titanic and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

His last major work was a detailed replica of the Granton Gasworks.

His latest ship was inspired by a book he read as a boy recounting tales of ancient Egypt, when he remembers being particularly enthralled by their funeral rites.

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He said: "I remember reading about how these boats would ferry the pharaoh down the River Nile after his death, powered by 22 oarsmen and led by the high priest at the back of the boat.

"When they reached the pharaoh's final resting place they would carry the boat into the tomb and then they would all be sealed up inside together.

"The slaves and the high priest would sacrifice themselves in order to row the pharaoh across the river in the afterlife.

"I thought it was the most wonderful image and fitting subject for my last boat.

"I crafted it out of a piece of wood I came across.

"I've adorned it with gold sequins and finished it off with two little ornaments I had of an Egyptian high priest and a model of Tutankhamen which I've placed at the bow and the stern."

Mr Scammell has not decided where to display his latest model, but said he was open to suggestions.

However, he may be reluctant to part with it just yet, as the model appears to have a mysterious power worthy of the God-like pharaohs themselves.

He said: "Ever since I started the model I seem to have hit a run of luck with the scratchcards.

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"I've won 40 on the scratchcards since I started, so maybe King Tut is smiling down on me."