Lifeboat That Saved 71 People Gets Makeover At Dock Museum

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 08 August 2005
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Shows a photo of a lifeboat on land.

The Herbert Leigh measures nearly 47 feet long and was launched 136 times during her service. Courtesy the Dock Museum.

Monday August 8 2005 sees the start of important work to conserve a historic Barrow lifeboat, the Herbert Leigh, for future generations.

Until she was replaced in 1982, the boat was the longest serving at the Barrow station, having seen 31 years work and 71 lucky people picked out of the water to the safety of her deck.

“The Herbert Leigh is an important part of our maritime history and we’re proud that she’s now on the Historic Ships Register,” said Sabine Skae, Dock Museum Collections and Exhibitions Officer. “This year we’ve been able to secure funding from the Furness Maritime Trust and funds from Barrow Borough Council in order to carry out essential conservation work.”

The boat was donated to the RNLI in 1951 by the Chairman of Leigh’s Paints, having cost £25,855 to build (in comparison to the £2m it costs to construct a Tamar class lifeboat used today). She was one of the most modern boats in the RNLI on completion, able to achieve 8.25 knots and carrying a crew of eight.

Shows a photo of the bow of the boat, where her name, Herbert Leigh, is printed.

The boat will take pride of place when the work is done. Courtesy the Dock Museum.

The lifeboat was given to the museum by her owner, Mr Leigh-Bramwell, great nephew of Herbert Leigh himself. Mr Leigh-Bramwell bought her from the RNLI in 1990 for £18,000.

“Looking after wooden vessels isn’t always easy and we’re spending almost £25,000 in order to conserve her for future generations,” said Sabine. “An experienced conservator, Simon Patterson of Openworld Yachts, will be carrying out the work during the month of August.”

Sabine thinks the lifeboat would look great behind the wavy wall at the front of the museum, looking as if she was about to be launched. If funding can be found to move her to the front of the museum site, that is where the Herbert Leigh will live from summer 2006.

“We’re lucky to have a really experienced conservator on the job,” added Sabine, “but myself and other members of staff will have to climb on board after the conservation in order to keep inspecting her and keep her in good condition. I’m not too good with heights!”

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