With our Shannon going on service in the new boathouse, the station's long-serving Mersey-class lifeboat 12-003 RNLB Doris M Mann of Ampthill will shortly be leaving the town. After over 32 years and launching on service 286 times, the oldest serving lifeboat in the fleet will be sailed up to Wells quay on Sunday 12th February around 11am for people to come and say goodbye. All are welcome and the Blakeney Old Wild Rovers will be singing shanties from 10.30am to 11.30am so please come and join us to give her the send off she deserves.
Wells' new Shannon-class lifeboat 13-46 RNLB Duke of Edinburgh officially went on service today as the station boat, taking over from our Mersey class lifeboat 12-003 which has steadfastly served the town and station for over 32 years.
This is the culmination of an intensive six months of training for Wells volunteer crew on the boat and our launchers and tractor drivers ashore, both in Wells and at Poole, as well as a two year construction process to build the new lifeboat station for the boat. It is also the final chapter in a story that began for some crew members with the arrival of the FCB2 prototype lifeboat in the town for launch and recovery trials some 17 years ago.
Coxswains, mechanics, navigators, SLRS drivers and a substantial proprotion of crew and shore launchers were passed out by the RNLI to take the Shannon to sea on real callouts on 19-20th January after plans to do so in December had to be postponed and the boat was declared SAR-capable and on service today after some minor other issues were resolved.
The station's Mersey class lifeboat 12-003 Doris M Mann of Ampthill will now leave Wells with the opportunity for crew the public to say goodbye at the quayside at 11am on Sunday 12th February.
Wells RNLI officially moved into the new boathouse on 13 November with a flag ceremony to mark the transfer of operations as well as the opening of the RNLI shop and visitor information centre in the new building.
Volunteer crew, past and present, and the wider lifeboat family watched as the RNLI flag was lowered at the old lifeboat station at 12:03 and then raised at the new lifeboat station 13.46 minutes later.
The timing related to the numbers on the station's lifeboats; 12-003 is the number on Doris M Mann. the station's existing Mersey class lifeboat, and 13-46 is the number on Duke of Edinburgh, the station's new Shannon Class lifeboat which will become operational later this year.
Respected former members of the crew, aided by senior current members and the Earl of Leicester, lowered and raised the flag with pride, knowing that although it was the end of an era for the old lifeboat station, it was the beginning of a new and exciting time ahead for the new.
Chris Hardy, Lifeboat Operations Manager, said "All of our Lifeboat crew were thrilled to finally transfer to our new purpose-built boathouse, which has been designed specifically to to accommodate and maintain our new Shannon and D-class inshore lifeboat. The new boathouse also provides vastly improved crew changing facilities, a large and well-equipped crew room, which will double up as an excellent crew training facility."
The Mersey class lifeboat left the old boathouse for the last time to be photographed with crew and families alongside the Shannon and inshore boats. It remains the station boat and will now operate from the beach by the new boathouse, continuing for some weeks yet to play that vitally important role of being 'ever ready' to save life at sea off our coastline.
The new Shannon will become fully operational once the volunteer crew have completed their training in operating the boat and its SLRS launch and recovery system. Early next year the Mersey will be retired and we, and members of the public, will have an opportunity to say a fond and fitting farewell before she leaves Wells for the last time after serving us so well for 32 years.
As well as housing the Wells' lifeboats, the new station also provides a shop and visitor centre with a gallery from which the Shannon and inshore lifeboats can be viewed. The shop and visitor centre will be open most Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 4pm over the winter with more days added as more volunteers are trained.
Starting in January, guided tours of the lifeboat station can be booked from this website. The tours will be for groups of up to twelve people and will last just under an hour giving people an opportunity to see the Duke of Edinburgh close up and discover more about the workings of the station.
We are again indebted to local photographer (and Sheringham lifeboat crew member) Chris Taylor for taking photos and making this video of the day, showing our Mersey leaving the old boathouse for the last time, boats, crew and families gathered on the beach and the flag ceremony. Prints of Chris' photos can be ordered hereMore photographs of the day...
Our new Shannon-class lifeboat RNLB 13-46 Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Wells today, completing the last leg of her voyage home from Poole. Named in memory of the late HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the new lifeboat also carries the names of 15,000 loved ones in its RNLI 13-46 decals as part of the 'Launch A Memory' scheme.
The new lifeboat sailed from Lowestoft with a crew from Wells and was met off Wells by the town's current Mersey-class lifeboat RNLB 12-003 Doris M Mann of Ampthill, currently the oldest lifeboat in service with the RNLI and the Wells Inshore Lifeboat. All three lifeboats made their way into the harbour where they were joined by the town's historic Oakley class lifeboat Ernest Tom Nethercoat and historic Liverpool-class Lucy Lavers. The flotilla then made its way up to a crowded quayside for 5pm where the local community, supporters and well-wishers were able to welcome the new boat.
The day started before sunrise for the Wells crew taking relief Shannon lifeboat 13-40, which has been in Wells for training since August, from Wells to Lowestoft before swapping over to 13-46 kindly assisted by Lowestoft lifeboat crew members. Brief stops were made on the passage back off Cromer and Sheringham to show neighbouring stations the new boat and both Cromer ILB and Sheringham lifeboat launched to meet up with the Wells crew and run alongside the Shannon.
The new lifeboat will be used for crew training in the coming weeks before finally going into service as Wells' station boat and the Mersey being retired.
Our thanks to Chris Taylor for this video of the arrival
Wells' new Shannon-class lifeboat RNLB 13-46 Duke of Edinburgh will be arriving in Wells on Saturday 8 October. It will be in the quay at approximately 5pm. We welcome members of the local community to witness its arrival from 4pm onwards.
Wells is unable to accommodate large numbers of people and vehicles so we ask if those from further afield could please wait until our new lifeboat station is open before coming to see the Shannon. We understand that there are many supporters and donors who are keen to visit, so we thank you for your understanding and patience. We will inform everyone when the station is open and details of tours as soon as we are able to.
Our new Shannon-class lifeboat RNLB 13-46 Duke of Edinburgh should arrive in Wells around 5pm on Saturday 8 October, completing the last leg of her voyage home from Poole. Named in memory of the late HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the new lifeboat also carries the names of 15,000 loved ones in its RNLI 13-46 decals as part of the 'Launch A Memory' scheme.
The new lifeboat will be met off Wells by the town's current Mersey-class lifeboat RNLB 12-003 Doris M Mann of Ampthill, currently the oldest lifeboat in service with the RNLI, and the two lifeboats will make their way into the harbour and then up to the quay, arriving there at about 5pm. Blakeney Old Wild Rovers will be singing shanties on the quayside and there will be time for the local community and well wishers to see and welcome the new boat before she returns to the beach to be recovered and taken into the new lifeboat station.
The new lifeboat will be used for crew training in the coming weeks before finally going into service as Wells' station boat and the Mersey being retired. The new lifeboat station is not yet open to the public but there will be opportunities and events for people to see the new lifeboat and we will publish details as soon as we can.
Wells' new Shannon-class lifeboat RNLB 13-46 Duke of Edinburgh is to join 150 boats on the River Thames in London this Saturday to commemorate the life and 70-year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Reflections illuminated flotilla will start by Albert bridge, passing Chelsea bridge at 7pm on Saturday 24 September, Westminster bridge at 19:30 and arriving at Tower Bridge around 20.15. All 150 boats taking part, which will include the royal row barge Gloriana, built for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, will be lit up with white lights, creating a ribbon of light down the river. Illuminated River, the world's longest public artwork, will also be lit with a special display threading tones of purple and silver across nine bridges from Lambeth to London Bridge.
The new lifeboat's crew includes members of the Wells crew where the boat will be stationed.
RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said "Originally planned to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, this event provides a fitting occasion for the Thames’ river communities, of which the RNLI has been a proud member for 20 years, to express their sadness at the recent death of Her Majesty.
"The crew from Wells-next-the-Sea, where RNLB Duke of Edinburgh will be on service later this year, are extremely honoured to be part of this commemoration to our longest-serving Patron and a much-loved member of the RNLI family. I would like to thank the organisers, Thames Festival Trust, for nominating the RNLI as the official charity and raising much-needed funds for our new Tower Lifeboat Station at Waterloo Bridge."
The new lifeboat will be coming to Wells soon but no date has yet been fixed for its arrival.Reflections flotilla website
We're grateful to Martin Phillips of the RNLI in Poole for sending us some pictures of our new Shannon 13-46 'Duke of Edinburgh' on sea trials earlier this month. More images along with pictures of the new SLRS carrriage and some of the training with the relief lifeboat can be found in our photo gallery.More pictures in our gallery