New floating boat house for Poole Lifeboats

Think of flat pack, but not the stuff you find in a certain Swedish store, give it a more practical, nautical feel and something more ‘cutting edge’. That thought is becoming a reality as phase one of ‘Project lifeboat house’ for the operational station at Poole is well under way.

Phase 1
Is literally the guts of the building consisting of the steel framework and installing the floats.

Phase 2
Is anticipated to start shortly which will be the construction of the external cladding and side walls, followed by the glazing and preparation for installing the electrics, the boat lifts, and all the essential equipment to kit out the modern lifeboat house.

The proposed new-state-of-the-art boat house is being constructed by Four Tees Engineers Ltd at its ‘temporary’ home across the quay on the former Power station site. The eagle eyes amongst us, crossing over the Twin Sail Bridge or passing through the bridges by water will have noticed the ‘Meccano’ superstructure, growing each day.

When the works on the Old lifting bridge are completed and the bridge re-opened, the new lifeboat house will be floated down between the quays and it will be secured and installed on to the piles that have already been positioned alongside the bridge.

The building will offer the extra space required to securely house Poole’s busy lifeboats and will be a safe working environment for the volunteer mechanics to keep the vessels protected, prepared and ready to launch, whenever required 24/7.

Paul Glatzel Poole’s volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager said: “Our volunteer crew are very excited that the building work has begun and that the new permanent home for the lifeboats is becoming a reality.

“The new boathouse will provide much more space for the lifeboats and for the crew, enabling them to work safely in and around the boats. In the future we look forward to facilitating visits to the lifeboat house, promoting the work that the station does, sharing the key sea safety messages, which in turn will help to save lives at sea. Exciting times ahead.”

For over 152 years Poole RNLI Lifeboats have been launching into one of the largest natural harbours in the world, providing a lifesaving service for Poole Harbour and surrounding waters.

From 1865 when the first Poole lifeboat was launched the crew had to be taken by coach from the Antelope Hotel in the High Street, to Sandbanks where the lifeboat house had been built. In 1882 it moved to a new site leased by the Corporation of Poole at the East end of the quay, which is now the Old Lifeboat museum. It remained in the heart of the Quay community until 1974, and then it was relocated and established at Poole Harbour Yacht Club Marina at Lilliput for the next 15 years.

In 1989 the Lifeboats were re-sited to their present home on Town Quay adjacent to Poole Bridge, followed by a two-story extension to the police services building in 1990. Features included fuel and oil stores, general purpose store, an office and crew facilities and the extension was officially opened by the Mayor of Poole. The cost of the building and the design costs were partially funded by Poole Council and the Borough Architects Department.

In 1995 a floating boathouse was constructed nestled alongside the lifting bridge for safe housing of the Atlantic class lifeboat. A crew ‘urban myth’ is that it was christened the ‘Pig pen’ by the crew as when it was installed, a slurry lorry crossed the bridge and ‘blessed’ it or maybe it appeared like a pig pen before its refit either way in 2008 it had an extension the Floating boathouse adaptation was completed at a cost of £20,000 which was funded by the generous bequest of Mr George Thomas Lacy.

This was because the Atlantic 85 class lifeboat B826 Sgt Bob Martin (Civil Service No.50) was placed on service and Lifeboat B710 was withdrawn, Sgt Bob Martin was a tad longer!

In 2016 the ‘Pig Pen’ was removed and the ‘Watchman’ gnome mascot safely stored away as work commenced on refurbishing the Old Poole lifting bridge.

The lifeboats are currently operating from a ‘Versadock’ floating pontoon alongside the quay outside the station.

The volunteers are all following the progress of the ‘build’ watching the lifeboat house take shape and are looking forward to it being in place, a safe haven to launch from and return to in the very near future.

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