Lifeboat finds its final resting place

An old Norfolk lifeboat made one of her shortest but trickiest journeys yesterday - by air rather than sea.Dangling from the end of a towering crane jib the former Sheringham rescue boat was hoisted 12ft off the ground over a seafront car park and into the bowels of a new museum that will be her final resting place.

An old Norfolk lifeboat made one of her shortest but trickiest journeys yesterday - by air rather than sea.

Dangling from the end of a towering crane jib the former Sheringham rescue boat was hoisted 12ft off the ground over a seafront car park and into the bowels of a new museum that will be her final resting place.

It was a tense moment of the crowd of onlookers, including former crew concern about her safety, and museum officials seeing another part of their dream come true as a the prized exhibition was put into place.

The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows served the town for 30 years from 1961, returning in 1999 as part of a growing fleet of former lifeboats gathering to make a unique collection.


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Work has just started in a �1m museum project that will house the Unity, two other lifeboats, some fishing boats and a range of local heritage displays from a relocated town museum.

The Unity was lowered into a courtyard at the Mo to sit on huge steel beams, aimed at spreading the 22 tonnes of boat and carriage, and stop it falling into the sewerage tank below.

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She had arrived at the seafront just after 6.30am after being towed through the streets from her temporary storage - but it was 9.20am before it was 'lift off' and the boat gracefully eased into the air.

The 26m journey took just a few minutes, with helpers steering her with guidelines from the ground. She sailed over pub tables outside the Crown, including one with a dozing dog in it, oblivious to the activities around and above.

Crane boss Bill Stanworth from Bronzeshield at Kenninghall said the blustery winds made it tricky, and resulted in a change of plan - going straight across the pub front, instead of swinging over the promenade.

The boat's last coxswain Clive Rayment, who watched and helped with other old crewmen, said after the successful lift: 'It went very well -a bit breezy, but she always goes well in a gale.'

Museum architect Philip Bodie from Feilden and Mawson said the next stage involved putting up steelwork around the Unity to roof her in and make that part of the building watertight, as well as adding a new observation tower.

The rest of the building will be upgraded by contractors J S Hay to include mock street scenes, display galleries, and house two other lifeboats - the J C Madge and Foresters Centenary.

For three original members of the Sheringham Museum trust - Mary Blyth, Denise Lattaway and Tony Sadler, the craning in of the boat was a watershed moment - 20 years after they first hatched plans for a town museum.

Mrs Blyth said its previous home in a series of cottages tucked away off the high street was wonderful, but the new building would make a huge difference, by being able to display more items, and attract more visitors by being in a prominent location.

The cottages were sold to help pay for the new museum, which also won a �799,500 Heritage Lottery grant towards the attraction which is due to officially open next Easter.

The mood of Sheringham lifeboatmen at yesterday's lift was tinged with the sadness following the recent death of long-serving coxswain Henry Joyful West, who had 21 years at the helm, and 60 in total in various capacities at the station. An obituary will be featured in the EDP later in the week.

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