A historic lifeboat has returned home to Tyneside after a number of local businesses joined local government to save her.
The Port of Tyne, BT South Tyneside, Colman’s, J Barbour & Sons, JML, MI Dickson Ltd, South Tyneside Council, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Ward Hadaway united to cover the cost of buying the Bedford and her transport back to Tyneside.
Originally stationed at the coble landing in South Shields, the 131-year—old, 10m long lifeboat left the town in 1968 for Exeter Maritime Museum in Devon, under the care of the International Sailing Craft Association.
The Bedford was later moved to Lowestoft, Suffolk, and until recently she was part of a collection at the Eyemouth Maritime Centre. When the centre closed earlier this year, the Bedford was part of an online auction of the museum’s contents.
Susan Wear, the Port of Tyne director of corporate affairs, said: “We were first approached by the North East Maritime Trust to help see the Bedford return home rather than her end up anywhere else in the world.
“Fortunately, in partnership with eight other local businesses, we were able to support the Bedford coming back into public ownership in South Shields.” Led by the North East Maritime Trust, the bid to save the Bedford was successful and with the support of the Port of Tyne, arrangements were made to see her safely transported from Scotland into temporary storage at the port until the trust can find a permanent home for her.
Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “The borough has such a long and proud shipbuilding and seafaring heritage, being home to the world’s first purpose-built lifeboat and more recently celebrating 150 years of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.