Bid to build new home for Winterton-on-Sea’s old heroine of the sea

The Edward Birkbeck, Winterton lifeboat number 1, having a metal keel - which was added in the 1930 - carefully removed. March 2013.

A year after bringing a former lifeboat back to Norfolk, a band of enthusiastic volunteers have revealed bold ambitions to find her a new home.

Edward Birkbeck boat

The Edward Birkbeck was Winterton-on-Sea's lifeboat from 1896 to 1925, saving 96 lives until the RNLI closed the village lifeboat station.

The old lifeboat shed in Winterton-on-Sea. The Winterton Lifeboat Restoration Group want to rehome the Edward Birkbeck in a heritage centre built on the same spot.

In March last year, resident Bev Kay was contacted by a harbourmaster in Conwy, Wales, who wanted the boat, which had been abandoned, to return home rather than be scrapped.

Twelve months and a lot of elbow grease later, work to restore the Edward Birkbeck to her former glory is ongoing.

On Saturday, a crane was used to lift the 116-year-old wooden hull away from a heavy metal keel that was added around 1930 when she was converted to a motor cruiser.


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Now she has been stripped back to her original state, members of the Winterton Lifeboat Restoration Group can start the rebuilding phase using copies of original RNLI Class Drawings found in the National Maritime Museum and the expertise of local boatbuilder Maynard Watson to get it right.

While the boat is slowly taking shape, the group has another ambition – to build the Edward Birkbeck a permanent home on Winterton dunes.

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The volunteers want the new lifeboat hut to be a heritage centre for the village, putting it on the site of the old lifeboat station near the public toilets off Beach Road.

They want to ensure people who visit not only learn about the village's coastal history, but get a feel for what it was like to be a Winterton lifeboatman at the turn of the 20th century and be able to see the boat being hauled across the sand.

Funding could, however, be a stumbling block with Mrs Kay estimating it will cost at least £40,000 to build the centre in the style of the old station, which was knocked down, it is believed, in the 1960s.

To get in touch with the Winterton lifeboat restoration group, visit www.wintertonlifeboatrestoration.org.

• See more in today's EDP and Friday's Great Yarmouth Mercury.

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