The Miss World of Toy Boats

If I were to casually mention Miss England or Miss America, you might think I was referring to Eric Morley's long running Miss World beauty contest. As, however, this does not fall within the remit of this newsletter, I will revert to my favourite subject of pop pop boats!

Back in 1948, 3 years before the Miss World contests started, we had a contender in the form of a sleek and attractive boat marketed by Victory Industries of Worplesdon Road, Guildford, Surrey. A name which incidentally, got the company into trouble, as it was the trademark of G.J.Hayter & Co, who were famous for their range of "Victory" jigsaw puzzles. The boat in question was indeed a beautiful object and evoked the spirit of the age.

Miss England coil
Miss England and her horizontal coil

Described as on the box as "Miss England" a "super silent twin jet propelled speed boat", it was essentially a single horizontal coil driven pop pop boat. The burner consisted of a rectangular box with filler hole and riveted flap at one end and a wick at the other. This beauty of the boat world was available with a red, blue, green or white hull, the name being painted in gold and the deck resplendent in shiny aluminium. It measured approx. 13.5" (34cm) long x 3.25" (8cm) wide and had an adjustable rudder.

Whenever I display my collection, there are always some people for whom this wonderful craft bring back memories. My own example was sold to me by a gentleman with whom I chatted at one of my demonstration. He had owned it from childhood and had since become interested in other items.

Moving on to the mid 1950's, when the Miss World contest had become an established event, we come to two contenders from the USA. The much smaller "Miss America" boats of that era, were made by a company called Linemar. This was a Japanese subsidiary of the famous American toy maker, Louis Marx, set up to manufacture and import toys into the USA.

Miss America '55 Miss America '56
Miss America '55 and '56

The boxes proudly proclaim "Miss America '55" & "Miss America '56" "putt - putt cabin cruiser" and their catchy little slogan "Linemar best by far". The 1956 version is interesting in that the fore deck has a working compass built into it. The box calls it a compuss, is this a spelling error or just an Americanism. Who was it said that England and America were two nations separated by a common language?

These little US beauties measure approx 4.5" (11cm) long x 2.1" (5.5cm) wide. Unlike the Miss England, they have the diaphragm type pop pop engine, rather than a coil. I have seen a number of examples of the '55 version, but although aware of the existence of the '56 version, I have only recently been fortunate enough to add one to my collection.

It is interesting to note that Miss America was not crowned as Miss World in either 1955 or 1956. I wonder, if Eric Morley had started his contest a few years earlier, would Miss England have taken the crown in 1948?

< < Back