ex Louise Stephens, ex Tyne Star.
|Beam||12 ft 9ins|
|Draft||3 ft 6ins|
|Engine||2 x ferry 40 hp Diesel|
|Builder||J S White, Cowes IoW|
Louise Stephens has been bought by the Hoylake Lifeboat Museum.
Click here to see more about the Hoylake Lifeboat Museum
One of only three RNLI lifeboats designed to be launched from the beach, she had just come into service at Great Yarmouth & Gorleston when Louise Stephens found herself off to Dunkirk on 30th May, 1940.
During her career with the RNLI she was launched 311 times and saved 177 lives at sea. Sold out of service in 1974, she became for a while a fishing boat off the North-east coast of England. In 1984 she was re-engined with two 4-cylinder 72hp tractor engines and a large trawler wheelhouse was added.
Howard Fawsitt bought the lifeboat, now called Tyne Star, in 1986 when she had come down to Poole to be sold and he keeps her at Starcross in South Devon. She is a family pleasure boat, cruising the coastal waters of south-west England and the Isle of Wight.
The enjoyment of owning Louise Stephens has prompted its owner to buy Duke of Cornwall, the last Barnet class lifeboat to come out of service.
Source: 1, 5 & 20
I took the Gorleston and
Great Yarmouth lifeboat across to Dunkirk on two nights.
Her performance was a revelation and a delight."
A Royal Naval Reserve officer praises the performance of the Louise Stephens at Dunkirk
The former Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat, famed for the heroic part she played in the evacuation of Dunkirk, will now become a permanent exhibit at the Hoylake Lifeboat Museum in Cheshire, once she has sailed hundreds of miles from her mooring on the Isle of Islay off the western coast of Scotland.
But news she will not return to Norfolk has been met with mixed emotions from some maritime enthusiasts who longed to see her chugging through the waters near Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.
However, Mr Parr has offered assurances that they will do everything they can to celebrate the little ship’s Norfolk history once she is in place at the Hoylake museum.
He said: “This year we have already purchased two lifeboats and we are always looking to add more. So when one of our committee members said ‘have you heard about this wonderful Dunkirk veteran?’ we knew we had to follow it up immediately.
“The fact that this was the lifeboat where a wartime coxswain won silver and bronze medals is very special because those awards are not given out lightly.
“What is even more remarkable is the fact that the Louise Stephens played a vital part in one of the most famous rescues of all time.
“She was a member of a fleet of Norfolk lifeboats which saved 119 lives from Happisburgh Sands when a number of boats ran aground.
“This rescue has a great resonance for me personally because it is a story I heard about time and time again as a boy.
“Once the Louise Stephens is at the museum we will continue to do justice to her history, including her Dunkirk connection, so lifeboat enthusiasts and school children can enjoy her for years to come.
“We have got some imaginative and experienced people in our committee, so we hope we can deliver a unique historical experience for all our visitors who come to see the lifeboat – we would especially welcome visitors from Norfolk.
“The Mercury should be congratulated for bringing the story of the Louise Stephens to our attention so we had the chance to save her.”
The Hoylake Lifeboat Museum is based in a former Victorian lifeboat station in Hoylake in Wirral, Cheshire.
As well as providing a new home for the Louise Stephens, it also houses a collection of lifeboats spanning decades of maritime history – including a 110-year-old vessel from Liverpool.
It is believed the Louise Stephens cost the museum a sum close to £4,000, which it hopes to recover through future fundraising.
The next challenge the museum faces is navigating the vessel to its new home in England.
The proposed route will see the boat departing from Port Ellen on the Isle Islay towards Belfast, then across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, before embarking on the last leg of the journey to Liverpool where she will be transferred on land to the Hoylake museum.
Mr Parr is already in the process of recruiting a crew to complete the job and hopes to have the Louise Stephens in place by January next year.
Richard Basey, commodore for the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, is one of many people who hoped to see the Louise Stephens returned to Norfolk.
He had offered to re-home the vessel in Lowestoft, but struggled to find the funds to buy her.
“Initially, my reaction was one of disappointment because it is not coming back to its home in Norfolk,” he said.
“But I am also very pleased and relieved that it is going to a museum with a proven track record for looking after former lifeboats.
“I have invited Mr Parr to join the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships so we can keep track of the Louise Stephens at her new home in Hoylake.”
Robert Queen, who sold the Louise Stephens on behalf of his father-in-law, said: “The fact that the boat will now be going to a lifeboat museum means a lot to my father-in-law. We wanted her to go to the right people.”
The former RNLI lifeboat the Louise Stephens was launched 311 times and rescued 177 lives during a tenure in Yarmouth and Gorleston.
Hoylake Lifeboat Museum is appealing for donations in a bid to raise £400,000 to renovate the museum.