Pete Danks: Model Maker
By Doug Matheson
They are in our midst. We pass them by in the street every day without really knowing who they are. No, I am not talking about doubleglazing salesmen, but talented people; very talented people who quietly go about their lives doing amazing things while hiding their lights under bushels. People, such as Pete Danks.
Now, Pete is fairly well known hereabouts as a chap who knows about boats; and he has been heavily involved in a number of local boatbuilding projects. These have included the construction of a replica east coast salmon coble, a Faering skiff and the St Ayles skiffs in Portsoy and Banff.
He is also currently teaching boat-building skills to pupils in Banff Academy; and he prepares kits for the local primary schools – which the pupils assemble into small ‘Pragmatist’ dinghies. So far, so nautically good.
However, what is not generally known is that he happens to be one of the UK’s top boat modellers – who specialises in the construction of the most detailed scale replicas of wooden naval vessels of ‘museum’ standard. What is even more surprising is that he is an aeronautical engineer by profession and has no nautical background whatsoever. How did all this come to pass? Ed and I visited Pete at his workshop in Portsoy to investigate.
Pete’s interest in modelling started after a chance read of an Airfix magazine. Airfix was a well-known plastic model maker of the time. This inspired him to buy a few plastic tank kits though he was not content with just making them ‘straight from the box’. He preferred to model unusual variants of each vehicle instead, in order to create something unique, which exercised his creativity and modelling skills. Modellers have it much easier today, of course, as there is a vast range of commercially-produced modification kits available for this purpose – but this was a long, long time ago when Pete was a teenager.
To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the May 2016 issue!