The Friends of Zetland Lifeboat (FoZL) was formed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who manage a small community museum and heritage centre in Redcar.
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. The FoZL have been formed independantly so we can gain charitable status. Once this is in place we can apply for external funding from various trusts which hopefully will include the National Lottery Fund.
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 surveys have given us professional advice, this can only go as far as what can be seen by the naked eye. There are the areas under the deck and the adjacent airboxes (flotation chambers) giving cause for concern as the extent of the timber deterioration has never been seen. The underside of the decking has never been opened up and the airboxes examined since approx 1824. The extent of the conservation work on the Zetland will be directly reliant upon the funding we can secure. Our aim is to have maritime conservationists carefully and sympathetically remove the airboxes and part of the decking, so that the inner keel can be surveyed. Then, will we know the full extent of the work involved.
Only at this stage can we draw up a specification for the works and put the project out to tender.
We fully intend to have the work carried out within the museum, if possible, as being a ‘peoples boat’ it would be nice to invite the people of Redcar to keep viewing the work as it progresses. All work carried out will be documented, photographed and archived.
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 delamination of the existing coatings.
The carriage she sits on may also need modification or replacing, again this will be identified by qualified person.
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 past.