Hudson Folding Dinghy

0712-Hudson_250-350x0What you are looking at is cutting edge 1930s technology. No, the car is not amphibious but the strange looking object attached is. What we have here is a Hudson Folding Dinghy, an unusual collapsible dinghy designed and made by R J Hudson (Dick) between the late 1920s and late 1930s, originally in Dublin and then in Devon. Dick started as a civil engineer in India before returning to Ireland in the 1920s then later, during the Second World War, he worked as part of a team on various development projects for the government.

The boat was designed to be simple with one person able to open and fold the boat in less than 30 seconds by means of a single leaver; the thwarts automatically taking their position upon opening so requiring no fixing. Its strength of construction was obtained from the rigid longitudinal frame consisting of stem, keel and sternpost. Specially prepared sheets of marine plywood were used for the planking and the entire boat was thoroughly sound and seaworthy with no fragile parts and no exposed canvas that could get chafed or damaged when in use.

Overall stability was helped by the broad beam and the craft was marketed as being most suitable for fishing, duck shooting and capable of safely riding even a heavy sea; indeed during the development phase the dinghy underwent trials in Dublin Bay to requirements suggested by the Admiralty and the Air Ministry, who were both keen on the design. In addition to the dinghy being fitted out for either rowing or sailing any small light-weight outboard engine with a usual transom bracket could be easily fitted.

For transportation the dinghy folded to approximately just 10 inches, ideal for stowing away on the deck of a small yacht or carried on simple brackets along the running board or on the roof of a car.

Main Frames: Silver spruce, Wych elm and Honduras mahogany. Main ties, hinge clips and pins all of phosphor bronze

Timbers: Silver spruce through copper fastened

Planking: Marine plywood panels of selected Canadian birch, specially prepared and treated to withstand tropical conditions and salt water

Thwarts: Honduras mahogany

Hudson Folding Dinghies

Type J:
OPEN: Length 8’ 9”, Depth 20”, Beam 4’ 5”
FOLDED: Length 10’ 6”, Depth 28”, Beam 9”
Weight 130 lbs

Cost when new:
Type J – Fitted with Sculls and Gunmetal Rowlocks
28 guineas

Type M:
OPEN: Length 10’ 6”, Depth 23”, Beam 5’ 4”
FOLDED: Length 12’ 6”, Depth 33”, Beam 11”
Weight 200 lbs

Cost when new:
Type M (1) – Fitted with Sculls and Gunmetal Rowlocks
38 guineas
Type M (2) – Sailing dinghy fitted with centreboard and complete sailing and rowing gear
46 guineas