Hopes of saving historic boat sunk

The Samuel Fletcher being moved from Stanley Park in 2009.

The Samuel Fletcher being moved from Stanley Park in 2009.

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THE future of an historic Blackpool lifeboat is in doubt after funds to restore it could not be raised.

For the past three years, The Samuel Fletcher, whose crew saved 28 lives during the vessel’s service history, has been stored at Blackpool Sea Cadets base in Bispham.

It was hoped the boat, which was stationed in Blackpool from 1896 to 1930, could be restored.

But it has not been possible to raise the £25,000 repair costs.

Now it looks likely it will be put into storage by the council in the hope of securing funds in the future.

And one heritage chief has said it may be time to admit the boat cannot be saved.

Elaine Smith, chairman of Blackpool Civic Trust, said: “The Samuel Fletcher was originally renovated by the Civic Trust and used as a pleasure boat on Stanley Park lake.

“Since then we have contacted many museums asking if they would take it, but they say it has been altered so much it has lost its value as a piece of heritage.

“I think it is past redemption now and it is not worth saving.”

But Bruce Allen, of Mereside Tenants and Residents Association, which paid for the boat to be transferred to the sea cadets, says its should be saved as a memorial to the brave life-savers of the past.

Its most famous rescue came in 1897 when it was used to save sailors from Lord Nelson’s former flagship the Foudroydant which was wrecked on Blackpool beach.

Mr Allen said: “Unfortunately neither our heritage or Civic Trust seem interested in saving this iconic boat or what it represents as part of our history and the contribution of our community volunteers past and present.

“I would be grateful if the residents of this unique town would let me know if they would like to see this piece of local history and folklore preserved as a monument to the people involved.

“If you are interested in saving The Samuel Fletcher ring me on (01253) 766056.”

Council heritage chief Carl Carrington said: “We are looking at putting it in council storage and then seeing what funding opportunities come up in the future but there just is not the money available at the moment.”

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