Second World War rescue boat set to arrive in Hartlepool to be restored as part of £1m investment project
A Second World War ship is set to arrive in Hartlepool in the coming days as part of a £1 million investment programme.
Rescue Motor Launch (RML) 497 will be officially unveiled at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool on Monday, January 28.
She is currently being barged around 400 nautical miles up the coast from her current berth on Southampton Water to Hartlepool where she will be carefully craned into place and a temporary building.
Her relocation to Hartlepool is in anticipation of a conservation programme to get her on permanent display telling the rich naval story of the coastal forces in the North Sea.
The move has been made possible by a Tees Valley Combined Authority grant of £499,250 which combined with an investment by the National Museum forms part of a larger regeneration project to the value of £1.1 million.
Weighing 70-tonnes, the 112-feet RML 497 has had a varied history.
From rescuing fallen airmen in the Second World War to carrying people as a much-loved ferry service in the South West.
She was acquired by the Portsmouth-based National Museum of the Royal Navy in 2015 following a grant of £90,600 from the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £5,000 each from the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust and the National Museum.
She was one of the first mass-produced vessels, likened to the modern-day flat pack.
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Although this type of craft was very much needed by the Royal Navy as the war progressed it was not possible for them to be built in the Admiralty's very busy shipyards.
The designs were therefore spread around the small boatyards of the UK, which were well capable of undertaking the construction of these wooden hull craft, quickly and easily.
Roslyn Adamson, general manager of The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, said previously: "She is an amazing survivor, full of original features, which is incredible for a wooden warship built for service during the Second World War.
"Her arrival will be a real spectacle and we can’t wait to welcome her on site.
"We are thrilled to have her here and are formulating exciting plans to get her conserved and put on display.
"There is a really strong story about coastal forces in the North East that can be told through her."
Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher added: "She has a strong connection to the North Sea and her story is fit to be told at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool.
"Securing the arrival of the National Museum in Hartlepool in 2016 ensured the town has a visitor destination of national significance and I believe adding RML 497 to the collection is a real sign of intent for the future."