Historic lifeboat returns to Mersey

The William & Kate Johnston historic lifeboat is set to return to the River Mersey for the first time in decades.

On Monday, 13 May, this piece of maritime history will return to the water once more, where she will move under her own steam across the river to Liverpool, to be stored at Sandon Half-Tide Dock.

In this historic voyage, the former New Brighton lifeboat will be accompanied by the current New Brighton RNLI Atlantic 85 lifeboat and volunteer crew.

Once at Sandon Dock, further survey works and restoration can take place whilst vital fundraising efforts continue.

The William & Kate Johnston served New Brighton RNLI from 1924-1950, launching 96 times and saving 248 lives. At the time of her service, she was the biggest lifeboat in existence, being one of only four Barnett-class lifeboats in use.

The William & Kate Johnston Preservation Society (WKJPS) has been set up to see this heritage asset restored to her former glory and returned to the Mersey, to serve as a museum piece and working vessel on the river for day trips and community groups to take advantage of, whilst learning about her splendid history.

The WKJPS, having already acquired the vessel, divided the task of the lifeboat’s return and restoration into several key phases.

Phase one involved the raising of funds to return the lifeboat, by road, from her previous home on the south coast. Following a swell of local support, including generous donations from local New Brighton businesses, the boat was returned to Merseyside safely, where initial maintenance works could take place.

Now, with a treated and repainted hull and serviced engines and fuel lines, she is ready to make her return to the river that she called home for so many years once again.

Dan Wardle, former New Brighton RNLI helm and Director of WKJPS, said, “It has been a long and tricky journey so far, with plenty of challenges and hiccups, and there’s still a long way to go yet.

“Monday will be a day to celebrate, however, as we have the privilege of returning the William & Kate Johnston back to the Mersey, where she belongs.

“It’ll be a real honour to guide her across the waters that she called home for so many crucial years.”

Image: The William & Kate Johnston

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