The matchstick armada: Model maker spends a decade building 20 legendary vessels
A retired British oil rig worker has completed an epic 10-year project to create a ‘matchstick armada’.
David Reynolds, 51, from Southampton, spent more than 10,000 hours gluing 250,000 matches to make a fleet of 20 legendary vessels.
Models of the Titanic, Queen Mary and HMS Victory are included in his extraordinary collection.
Mr Reynolds said: ‘I am inspired by Southampton and the seafaring history of England.
‘I choose to create these ship because of their historical importance and design, but some do have a personal connection.
‘My father worked on the Queen Mary and I also have a maritime background from having been at sea.
‘I want my collection to be a lasting tribute to the heritage of my city and the men and women who work at sea and sometimes risk their lives.’
Creating a blend of iconic liners and rigged vessels each ship can take between four and seven months.
Using an array of pictures and historical drawings to work from, each ship measures two feet in length and height, including the masts.
Hobby: Each vessel cost between £300 and £400 to construct and took up to seven months to complete
Patience: Mr Reynolds spent more than 10,000 hours gluing together the 250,000 matches for the project
‘Each boat offers its own challenges,’ said Mr Reynolds.
‘I don’t generally use official plans from museums or anything like that because they can cost hundreds of pounds.
‘I tend to use whatever I can get my hands on to make up my own drawings.’
Built with standard-sized matches and household PVC glue, each ship costs between £300 and £400 to construct.
He said: ‘It took me about 10 years to put the Armada together.
‘The anchors and lifeboats with the safety ropes are one of the hardest aspects of each creation.
‘The most time consuming part is doing the blocks and tackles. They’re very fiddly and some ships have 400 of these.’
Record breaker: Mr Reynolds has already made the world’s biggest matchstick model – a replica oil rig that used more than 4 million
Mr Reynolds discovered matchstick models when his 23-year-old son, Mark, bought him a kit after being told his father was to be housebound for months after major surgery.
‘It started off as a simple hobby,’ he said.
‘Children especially are amazed that by just going by pictures and drawings I can make realistic models.
‘I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pass on my legacy to an apprentice, it does take a lot of patience and it’s hard to find kids with the attention span.’
He joked: ‘If you happen to know one, do let me know.’
Also included in his collection is a replica of the QE2, Cutty Sark, the May Flower and the USS Constitution.
He recently put the finishing touches to his latest model, the Mary Rose.
Dedication: Mr Reynolds first discovered his hobby when his son bought him a matchstick model kit
Mr Reynolds first hit the headlines last year when he was recognised by Guinness World Records for making the biggest matchstick model.
His replica of a North Sea oil platform used 4.075 million matchsticks – comfortably beating the 3.5 million used in a recreation of Titanic.
Mr Reynolds, who spent 15 years making the oil rig, said his wife, Julie, 50, was happy with his hobby.
‘Thankfully he has got used to my model making over the years,’ he said.
‘I’m not off for whole days playing golf like some people. She knows where I am at home so I think she’s quite pleased overall really.’
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