Arthur Ransome Wiki

Swallow was one of two dinghies purchased by Ernest Altounyan in 1928 when he returned to England for the summer and decided that two dinghies would be needed for his four eldest children to learn seamanship on Coniston Water. He agreed with Arthur Ransome that they would share the cost equally, and when they returned to Syria one boat would become Arthur’s. Swallow was usually crewed by Susie and Roger, and was named after their old sailing boat.

Ernest went to Barrow-on-Furness from Bank Ground Farm where they were unpacking, and purchased two heavy sea-going dinghies, 13 feet long with standing lugsails, for £15 each. They were built for sailing in the shallow waters of Morecombe Bay, and were not new, though Taqui’s cousin Tadeus thought that they were little used. They were transported on the back of a lorry to Lanehead. The other boat Mavis was the fastest boat in anything of a breeze but Swallow was better in lighter airs. Instead of a centreboard she had a deep keel which made her very steady when running before the wind. Swallow was built specially to navigate the treacherous and changing sands of the Kent Estuary near Arnesdale, where she was built by William Crossfield.

Swallow was the favourite of the young Altounyans, as they did not have to struggle with a heavy centreboard. She was most attractive with a brown sail and a brown and white painted hull. When they returned to Syria at the end of summer in 1928, they generously left her to Uncle Arthur, keeping Mavis. Arthur sailed her until Christmas (when the Altounyan children returned briefly), and moved her to Windermere.

Swallow was kept on a mooring in Bowness Bay, looked after for £5 a year by a boatman called John Walker, who baled her and stored her in winter. Just before he left for Syria, Arthur applied for membership of the Cruising Association, giving as his yacht the thirteen foot sailing dinghy “Swallow”.

He sold Swallow, possibly in September or October 1935, and she has "vanished without a trace”. She was he said “the best little boat that ever was built” , but when the Ransomes left Low Ludderburn in 1935 he had two dinghies on Windermere, and “Cocky” or Coch-y-bonddhu was almost new.


  • NBUS page 57-63, 93 & 245-246