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Zetland Lifeboat Museum and Redcar Heritage Centre

Conservation Update 2019

CONSERVATION COMPLETE - In November 2018, the Zetland finally left the museum, for the first time since


The work to be undertaken was the biggest since 1823.

She was housed in a building kindly donated by AV Dawson, in Middlesbrough and safely transported by

GCS Johnsons of Richmond.

Most of the paint was removed by Sodablasting UK, using glass beads.The paint on the softer timber was

removed by sanding and rubbing.

Early in 2019, local boat repairers,Tony Young and Paul Busuttil, began work on the areas of timber that were

rotten and damaged.

The bow stem post required a piece splicing in, as did one of the planks on the port side, behind the bilge keel.

The bow stem post metal runner was restored and the port bilge keel needed to be replaced.

Inside the hull, rotten deck supports had to be removed and replaced and one deck plank had to be replaced.

The supports and underside of the new deck plank were coated with bitumen paint, similar to the materials

used to protect the timberswhen she was first built.

Prior to painting, several areas had to be filled and sanded in order to create a consistent smooth finish, without loosing the character

caused by years of use and weathering.

All metal work was primed and external planks were treated with wood preserve, by a group supplied by Learning Curve, before

receiving 2 coats of primer. Acrylic satin was used for the final 2 coats of off white and blue. All paint was donated by Johnstones

Decorating Centre,

Skippers Lane Industrial Estate.

On the 5th April, she was returned to the museum, which now had a new floor and shop.


March 2014

Please see this link


October 2013

Following the survey carried out by John Kearon on 15th & 16th April 2013, it was decided that further access to the inner hull was

required to enable a full analysis of the vessel to be completed. Following the removal of deck boards, etc the findings were consistent

with the previous exposed areas. In addition, 2 lead ballast tanks were revealed.


29 July 2013

Further to gaining exploratory access to areas of the hull not previously seen since 1823, we decided we had taken enough of the deck

up to show what the problem was although by no means showing  the full extent of the timber decay.

We are aware that at this stage those visiting the Zetland would prefer to see her complete and it is our intention to delay further work

until we have at least some indication that we are financially  secure to carry on further.  

We have made applications for some funding and once this is in place we will be in a better position to methodically progress with the

conservation work.

Other issues are being dealt with and for the first time since 1907, the Zetland carriage has been fitted with permanent wheels. At least

now the Lifeboat can be taken from the building in the case of an emergency.


16 April 2013

In the last 2 days, we have had an expert, provided by the National Historic Ships, open up some box sections.

Access was gained to one side only. It is anticipated that the findings will be consistent in other similar areas.

The findings were mixed. Several documents had indicated that air tanks were copper lined, however, no evidence was found.

Bearing in mind these sections had not been visible in over 200 years, it appears there is no significant, general areas of rot. Some

edges of the deck boards had evidence of rot, however, most of the rot is out of sight. It appears that the rot was caused by a mixture

of exposure to water/damp and rusting iron nails.

The next step is to wait for the report, which will identify the options for conservation.

The options will be discussed between the Zetland Museum Management Committee, RNLI Heritage and Redcar & Cleveland Council

Museums Dept.

Dependent on the option, the same group will then enquire as to who is able to carry out the work to a strict criteria.

The bottom line is we will make all decisions in the best interest of the Zetland so she will last at least another 200 years.


Our work towards conserving the Zetland has been applauded by many who are involved in Maritime conservation. Without doubt she

has earned her position as part of the National Historic Fleet and many are asking just how she has survived for over 200 years with so

little maintenance!  Records available of the 31 Lifeboats that Henry Greathead built, shows their serviceable life to be little over 20

years. This can only be put down to the volunteers who, over the years, have made sure she has had the best of attention.


Prior to any work being started on the conservation, the Zetland is to be inspected by representatives of both the RNLI and National

Historic Ships UK in April.

With such a historical vessel, we at the museum are determined that any work, however small, is documented and recorded.

Our overall intention is to see that she is conserved professionally guaranteeing that she will be 'Ship Shape' for many future

generations to view and enjoy.

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