Early Mirrors were built down to a price

Two pages from the Daily Mirror newspaper, thought to be in 1963 promoting the new dinghy

In the early years Mirrors were built down to a price - £63.11s cash for a complete boat kit in the 60s. Nothing wrong with that approach, the Daily Mirror wanted to make the boat accessable to the general public, so a low price point was important. This approach carried on into the 80s. The downside is that, the experience of sailing the boat was not as good as it might have been, had it been equipped to a higher standard.

This basic equipping needs to be born in mind as a lot of older Mirrors come on the market with some of these low cost features. I'm going to outline the standard Mirror equipment level (from the early 60's into the 80s).

A female model sitting in the back of a Mirror dinghy at the 1968 boat show

  • Bullseyes instead of mainsheet blocks
  • Mainsail outhaul was just tied through a hole in the boom
  • Sails were cut from poor quality cloth and had little shape.

A female model sitting in the stern of a Mirror dinghy with the camera on the bow of the boat

  • Wooden jib fairleads, which had a lot of friction when you tried to adjust the jib sheet (hard to believe these were cheaper than bullseyes, but they formed a handy mounting platform for better fittings if you decided to upgrade)
  • No jib sheet cleats
  • Main & jib sheets were laid three strand cotton rope (just visible under the thwart where the jib sheet is in shadow)
  • Halyards & kicking strap were three strand hemp rope
  • Tiller extension was just bolted to the tiller, so would only move in the same plane as the tiller (i.e. no universal joint)
  • No cleat for the kicker, just an eye on the stowage bulkhead where you tied a knot
  • Galvanised shrouds & forestay, rather than stainless steel

An original alloy shroud attachment fitting with original brass shackle

  • Brass shackles, including the ones for fixing the shrouds to the alloy shroud attachment fittings (not worried about any adverse chemical reaction!)  rather than stainless steel.

And of course

  • No toestraps
  • No burgee
  • No self bailer
  • No cover (an optional extra when you ordered a kit)
  • No trolley (an optional extra when you ordered a kit)

A brochure of optional extras for a Mirror dinghy from 1971

It's not surprising that Bell Woodworking found it worthwhile to sell all manner of optional extra fittings, and that what could be fitted was strictly controlled by the class rules.

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