Builder of tiny boats

2018-05-29 06:00
Tony de Villiers.

Tony de Villiers.

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Local resident Tony de Villiers has turned a hobby into an unusual business.

De Villiers has been building model ships for his own pleasure and for clients all over the world. A recent order came from the UK where descendant of Sir Walter Raleigh wanted a replica of the “Ark Royal” for his St James Street store and another client wanted a specific East Indiaman for his offices in Sri Lanka.

But aside from building model ships for homes, offices and museums, there is a huge demand for the restoration of old model ships which have been neglected and collecting dust for years.

Some are heirlooms, while others hold special memories of a lost loved one, and then there are the really valuable models from museums and collectors. Restoration is a long and delicate business and the income derived is not nearly commensurate with the hours spent on the job, so it’s actually a labour of love.

De Villiers has had to secure the services of shipping agents, packers, glass case makers, and a multitude of backup services to keep pace with the demands.

Wood, fittings and rigging are sourced in the UK, the USA and Russia.

For De Villiers, a retired TV producer, this new career has proved an enjoyable challenge.

“I had a stint in the navy as a youngster and never lost my love of ships and the sea, so this is exactly where I want to be at my age,” says De Villiers.

V Call De Villiers on 082 702 6709.

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