Family celebrate life of talented Ipswich model maker Russell Clarke

Russell Clarke with his model of the Rushmere church, which his niece and her fiancee, Laura Clarke

Russell Clarke with his model of the Rushmere church, which his niece and her fiancee, Laura Clarke and Daryn Brinkley married.

A renowned model builder, who constructed miniature versions of HMS Grafton, the House in the Clouds and Felixstowe Pier, has died aged 84.

Russell Clarke, who began crafting models from household objects in 1987, and continued the hobby throughout his life, died from cancer in August at St Elizabeth Hospice.

Mr Clarke, from Ipswich, began his working life as a paratrooper in the army, before settling in Nacton Road to work for Cranes, for 35 years. However, it was model making that Mr Clarke will be most remembered for.

His first model was built in 1987, and from there Mr Clarke continued to make models to give to family and friends as gifts, as well as donate to various charities.

Among his most renowned projects are models of the Orwell Lady, the House in the Clouds in Thorpeness, and both the existing Felixstowe Pier, and the Sea Dome pier which was proposed in the early 2000s but never built. But it is his model of HMS Grafton built for grandson, Alex Taylor, which his family say is one of his standout pieces of work.

Impressively, Mr Clarke would never build from kits, and used materials as varied as cocktail sticks and the backs of earrings to create his models, which were made entirely by hand from photos.

The craftsman put his hobby on hold during the latter years of his wife Gwen’s life, to be her full-time carer. The couple celebrated 63 years of marriage before she died in 2011.

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His final projects included a model of Rushmere Church for his niece’s wedding.

His daughter, Pauline Taylor, said: “There’s a lot of people who remember dad fondly because a lot of family and friends have bits and pieces he has made. He has shared a lot of his talent with others.

“He was a great family man who was very well loved, and I miss him dearly.”

Mr Clarke is survived by his two children, Pauline and David, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.