Wells Lifeboat Station is now officially in the new building after an intense few weeks fitting it out, setting it up and moving boats, vehicles, equipment, clothing, tools, paperwork and suppliers across from the old building.
The inshore lifeboat moved at the beginning of the month and is now operational in in its new home where it sits coupled to the Softrak launching vehicle ready to launch when needed. To confirm this, on Sunday 20th November, the boat was paged just as the crew were returning from a training exercise with the Shannon. Rehousing the Shannon was paused with the boat on the main ramp while an ILB crew assembled, changed and launched the boat into the outer harbour using the new ILB ramp, for the first time on service, to attend an incident at Burnham Overy Statihe.
On Sunday 12th November, crew, families and friends assembled on the beach with all three lifeboats to mark the transition to the new boathouse. Three of our most senior volunteers, past and present, lowered the flag on the now empty old boathouse and it was then raised on the new station.
The Mersey lifeboat remains the station's operational all-weather lifeboat at the moment but will now be kept for her final weeks on the beach beside the new boathouse.
This enabled the RNLI to comply with planning permission which stipulated the old 1895 boathouse be dismantled once the new station was complete. With much sadness, we said farewell to the building which, with various extensions and adaptions, has served Wells for 127 years. It was demolished between 15th and 25th of November.
Parts of it live on though as they have made their way to the new station, including the hand-painted service boards, some of which are over 100 years old, and large wooden righting poles used by the shore crew on the old Oakley class lifeboat and retained, just in case, for the Mersey but now on display in the new visitor centre. Some items continue in service. The fittings that held horse harnesses for launching the lifeboat up to 1936 have been moved to the new boat hall. Just as they have spent decades as a handy place for the Talus tractor drivers to hang their lifejackets, they are now serving as hooks for the SLRS drivers and launchers' lifejackets.
The apron to the south of the building has been finished and three custom benches added bearing exact reproductions of the Launch A Memory names printed within the RNLI 13-46 decals on the lifeboat. This area is open to the beach bank path and has already become a popular sitting and viewing spot.
To the front of the building, almost all signs of the contractors have gone and the temporary fencing replaced with a emoveable rope cordon intended to keep this area safe when the boats are launching or being washed down and recovered.
A new team of volunteers has taken on the shop and visitor centre which is currently opening most weekends Friday to Monday from 10-4. In most cases, when the shop is open the public viewing gallery is open too... access via a small staircase... from which you can see both lifeboats. Guided tours of the lifeboat station start in January but must be booked in advance on-line... these are already proving popular.
The Shannon lifeboat 13-46 'Duke of Edinburgh' has been regularly out for training abusy in the coming weeks as the crew are finally passed out on her and the boat can take over from the Mersey.
Even with all that, there are still some finishing up and modifications to come to the building but the project is effectively complete and finished so, after just over two years, this will be the last build update on this blog for a while until the building has its official opening which will be at some point next year.
Monday 28 Nov 2022
We've moved in!