It’s coming home! Plans to bring lifeboat back

The Friendly Forester is currently at the Blackgang Chine museum and visitor attraction on the Isle of Wight. Picture by Mark Peacock
The Friendly Forester is currently at the Blackgang Chine museum and visitor attraction on the Isle of Wight. Picture by Mark Peacock

Flamborough’s old Friendly Forester lifeboat looks set to return to the area, after businsesses and villagers joined forces in an effort to bring the boat back.

A social media campaign was started last week, after reports that it was no longer needed at its current home, the Blackgang Chine amusement park and museum on the Isle of Wight, and was free to anyone who could take her away.

Locals sprang into action, but discovered the Thornwick Bay holiday camp was already on the case.

Steve Pepper, administrator of the Facebook group Flamborough And Bridlington Then And Now, said: “The boat has been on show outside and has been open to the elements and will need to be surveyed before she can be moved.

“I rang Blackgang Chine Museum and spoke to site manager Dave Jackson, who confirmed they had been approached by the manager of Thornwick Bay camp. Dave had also received a bid from someone who wanted to scrap her but this was discounted.”

Steve, whose father was head launcher and winchman at the Flamborough lifeboat station, added: “I set up a meeting with the two interested parties and there were no serious objections to Haven being allowed to pay for the return the boat and have it on their Thornwick Bay site for all to see.

“We have been given assurances that in the future any use of the boat will be on a not-for-profit basis.”

The Friendly Forester was a Liverpool class lifeboat which arrived in FLamborough in 1953.

It was built on the Isle of Wight and after 30 years of service on the Yorkshire coast, it returned to the island.

Steve, a food hygiene trainer based in Harrogate who retains a fond affection for the place of his birth, said: “The Friendly Forester was commissioned for the Flamborough Station and to the best of my knowledge was only ever used at this station.

“The boat originally had a wooden coloured middle section but this was later covered in a hi-viz orange.

“I even managed to get a hand-made model of the boat, which takes pride of place in my home.”

The nostalgic Flamborough Facebook group has more than 2,000 members and many were horrified by the thought it could be scrapped or taken out of public view.

Some had offered to drive a HGV down to bring the 8.5-tonne vessel back, while others had discussed forming a trust and crowd-funding.

The campaigners expect to hear more when staff from Blackgang Chine, who are involved in the negotiations, return from holiday.