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Anne Allen. single engine 35ft Liverpool class lifeboat , the second of the Liverpool class motor lifeboats built and now the earliest in existence.
A very significant boat from the history of the RNLI and worthy of preservation.
Superb keel up restoration by present owner back to RNLI specs.
I have been privileged to see this restoration from start to finish and the quality of workmanship and materials used, are second to none.
Lister diesel engine, stripped and fully refurbished.
Full rig, spars and sails., mostly new by orignal makers Ratsey and Lapthorn.
This is a boat for the enthusiast, lots of maintenance but lots of joy.
full restoration article by her owner below.
Restoration of a Liverpool Motor Sailer
After years of dedicated restoration work by owner Terry Despicht, the former Skegness motor lifeboat Anne Allen (ex-ON-760) took to the water for the first time in 2015 having been completely renovated, and made a fine spectacle as she was sailed on the Wash, her original home waters. This historic lifeboat was the first motor boat to serve at Skegness, where she was on station from 1932 to 1953, and is now back to her best having been saved for the future by a dedicated owner. After a 21-year RNLI career, Anne Allen was sold out of service at the end of 1953, but is the only survivor of the eight lifeboats that served at Skegness prior to the current 12m Mersey Lincolnshire Poacher. One of only a handful of lifeboats built by Thornycroft, she was the second of 28 single-screw 35ft 6in Liverpool class lifeboats to be built, and is the oldest surviving boat of the class. The first, Oldham
(ON-750), was broken up at Hoylake in November 1955. During the 21 years that Anne Allen served Skegness, she was launched 120 times on service and is credited with saving 43 lives. Between 1939 and 1945 she was particularly busy, searching for crews of crashed aircraft as
Skegness was close to the many Bomber Command air bases in Lincolnshire and Norfolk. After her sale, she was acquired by the Cox family of Wells next the Sea, where she was adapted for whelking in the 1950s with all her side air cases and seats removed, her steering wheel moved aft to the aft end box bulkhead, and the open end of the canopy taken out to create extra deck space. She was based at Wells Next The Sea for 21 years before being bought by Stratton Long Marine, in Blakeney, and substantially altered to become an angling boat. The alterations saw the removal of the drop keel and casing, as well as the main decking and canopy, which was burnt, and she was renamed Golden Fleece II. In 1999 she was purchased by Terry Despicht and, although she only possessed a few of her original fittings, a complete restoration was planned. Terry explains: ‘This was partly motivated by the fact that my father had been a Wash fisherman until 1950, when Anne Allen was at Skegness, and had taken me at the tender age of four to ‘see the lifeboat’, a visit which left a lasting impression. I clearly recall looking round to see that no one was watching before I touched that gleaming hull.’ So, with plans for a restoration in place, enquiries were made regarding the sourcing of original parts. The first item to become available was the galvanised centreboard case, which was taken from Nellie and Charlie (ex- ON-764), the former Anstruther lifeboat then at Felixstowe Ferry. Although in a poor condition the plan was to use it as a pattern although subsequent developments dictated otherwise as an original brass one was sourced. Between 2002 and 2010 many more items were purchased, including some duplicates which have been put to good use on other Liverpools. Parts from the then derelict Morison Watson
(ex-ON-741), found in a field in Terregles, Dumfries, were retrieved and shared between Anne Allen and the 35ft 6in self-righter City of Nottingham (ex-ON-726). Annie Ronald and Isabella Forrest (ex-ON-792), one of eight of that Liverpool class that had been fitted with bronze underwater parts, was then acquired. Her canopy had been removed and, as the hull of Anne Allen was in much better condition, it was decided to use the major parts of
ON-792 to restore Anne Allen. Anne Allen’s original iron keel had lost 20 per cent due to rusting, so the bronze replacement from ON-792 was a bonus, although replacing a keel is not an easy task. The spars showed the scars of 66 years of use, so a lathe was constructed to turn them while square sheets of abrasive paper were used to bring them back to clean timber. A major challenge was the replacement of the belting, which still retained some of the original cork infill in parts, so the original cork-filled belting was replaced by a strip planked one to increase the strength and rigidity while also offering a chance to put the correct curve back into the port gunwale, which had lost its original shape. The belting was covered by modern red sail cloth material to replicate the original canvas.
The restoration started in early 2000 while she was still on a mooring in the Blakeney estuary with hours of paint stripping, a repetitive task interspersed with the removal of interior structures that had been added during the conversion to an angling boat. These included water tanks, rusty steel fuel tanks in the aft end box, and a hydraulic steering system that had replaced the original one. When Anne Allen was brought to Terry’s home in Sutterton in 2002, the anti foul and exterior paint were removed and the whole hull was allowed to breathe while being regularly sprayed with wood preservative. This spraying process took about ten minutes and prevented the hull timbers from drying out too much. Ten years later the hull was painted and to date the paint has adhered well. From the start of the restoration the construction of a new canopy been considered. Prior to the purchase of ON-792, a quantity of Honduras Mahogany had been bought with the intention of cladding a newly built canopy with an outer layer of this timber to replicate the original. Although a canopy came with ON-792 it had been removed by a jigsaw cut around its base and its original shape was distorted. The base sections of the canopy were temporarily fitted to Anne Allen’s deck and locked into position with temporary braces to guarantee it would fit when completed before being glued together. Considering that we were taking virtually everything from the hull of one
Liverpool and fitting it all into another Liverpool hull made four years earlier in a different boatyard, the similarities of the two boats were amazing. Once the outer skin of the canopy had been sanded back to bare wood, it was clear that the finish would not pass muster so in the end the Honduras mahogany was used here. Planks measuring 5mm by 100mm wide, and about 8ft in length, were cut. Getting the outer layer to replicate the pattern below was difficult, but was eventually achieved after much trial and error. The final stage was to open up the screw holes to replicate the original rivets, and drill dozens of others to match the original rivet hole pattern. Every metal part was grit blasted with the finest glass bead, then buffed and polished, before being cleaned twice with cellulose thinners. Three coats of Incralac were applied, which have withstood three years of weathering. When purchased in 1999, Anne Allen had a Perkins 4236 engine, but Terry wanted to replace it. Brought from Morison Watson was an old HW3M 36bhp Lister engine, which had been fitted in her. It was completely seized and had been under water at some time, but was a nice compromise between the original six-cylinder 35bhp Weyburn AE6 RNLI petrol
engine and the 67bhp Perkins. Getting the engine cleaned up was a considerable effort, with the cylinders being rebored, the crankshaft reground and many new parts fitted, but the end result was a power unit that looks very at home under the canopy. A retired Lister foreman commented: ‘You will have more power at your propeller with that Lister than they had with the AE6’. He also assured Terry that the smaller diameter original dry RNLI exhaust system would cope with the Lister’s exhaust.
The final major task was to replace the sails with a new set, to be made by
Ratsey and Lapthorn whose name appeared on two original Liverpool jibs Terry had come across. They were fitted and tried out in 2015. Considering that Anne Allen has a long straight keel, a small area of centre keel and a very moderate low aspect sail area meant mainly as a back up to the engine, Terry was pleased to find she goes about well and gybes effortlessly. At the end of the process, Terry said: ‘The restoration has taken many years, but to own and sail the oldest surviving Liverpool is a privilege. Having now completed much of the restoration, were I to be given unlimited funds with which to purchase any boat of my choice I would chose her.’
As Terry looks back over what he has achieved, he says, ‘A debt of gratitude must go to the skilled Thornycroft boatbuilders who built her at Platts Eyot, Hampton in 1932; to the Skegness RNLI crew members who looked after her so well for her first 21 years; and to the Cox family and Tikkie Taylor who preserved her for almost half a century between 1953 and 1999.’