The Friends of Zetland Lifeboat (FoZL) was formed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who manage the Zetland Lifeboat Museum & Redcar Heritage Centre.
The main focal point of interest in the museum is the Zetland lifeboat, regarded by maritime historians as an important time capsule of our seafaring past.
Our aim is to conserve and protect the Zetland Lifeboat and her environment to ensure she stands proudly in Redcar for generations to come. Many surveys have been carried out over recent years to establish the extent of repairs required with a view to having them carried out. More recent surveys indicate evidence of wood rot and decay around the length of the keel and stem posts, all of which need urgent attention. Although the surveyors had given us earlier professional advice, this was restricted to what could be seen by the naked eye. There are areas under the deck and the adjacent air boxes (flotation chambers) giving cause for concern as the extent of the timber deterioration had never been seen. The underside of the decking had never been opened up and the air boxes examined since approx 1824. The extent of the conservation work on the Zetland will be directly proportionate to the level of funding we can secure. Our aim is to have maritime conservationists carefully and sympathetically remove the air boxes and part of the decking, so that the inner keel could be surveyed. Only then, would we know the full extent of the work involved.
Only at this stage were we able to draw up a specification for the works and put the project out to tender.
We fully intended to have the work carried out within the museum, as being a ‘peoples boat’ it would have been nice to invite the people of Redcar to keep viewing the work as it progresses. The latest indications are that she will have to be removed to a boatyard for the conservation as to work within the museum would create too many Health and Safety issues.
Once the timbers have been repaired and preserved the whole boat will be stripped and repainted as recommended by the surveyors who recommend a complete repaint due to the existing coatings breaking down and delaminating.
All work carried out will be documented, photographed and archived.
We are planning to have the conserved boat resting upon a more traditional type of carriage which should allow better appreciation of the construction of the unique 'rocker' keel for which the vessel was described as 'revolutionary,'
In simple terms, our mission is to have the Zetland conserved as original as we can – Rest assured not an inch of timber will be replaced if it can be conserved. The Zetland will still look like a lifeboat, which is over 200 years old but one that has been lovingly cared for. So people can look at her over the next 200 years and marvel at the bravery of her maritime past.
We have now completed all the inspections and surveys and are awaiting funding for the Zetland Lifeboat. The condition of the vessel at the moment is that she is probably sitting in the most suitable of environments whereby she is static and free from any impending damage due to timber rot, decay or infestation.
Whilst the Zetland herself has been the centre of our Museum we are also working on details to not only display the vessel better to also upgrade the whole internal areas of the museum. We are very proud of the Zetland, now it is our intention to make the whole display areas a much improved and more interesting visitor experience.