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The Priscilla Macbean

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Priscilla Macbean
The 'Priscilla Macbean'
Historic Lifeboat comes to Hastings
A bit of background

Priscilla MacBean

The Story begins

Update 25th Jan 2014
The Story Continues
16/11/14 - Priscilla MacBean is dragged to her dry dock (external site) here
Youtube Video - "Moving The Priscilla Macbean" Full version or Shorter version


On January 1st 2016 I received an email from Richard & Jo Hepper who revealed that their family had owned the Priscilla Macbean for nearly 40 years and filled in a lot of history:

  • My father, Mr John Hepper, bought Laurita (as she was then known) in about 1956.  At the time she was on a swinging mooring at the north end of Lake Windermere.
  • She had been converted in the thirties, with a cabin to the bows, a saloon amidships, a wheelhouse over the engine, a small toilet just aft a galley in the stern, which could be turned into bunks.  My father had square sections cut out of the forward and rear cabins for hatches (for safety).
  • She was used as our family's boat for holidays for many years. We had many happy times, and still frequent the area.  She was never a houseboat in our ownership as we lived near Leeds. I have countless photos of the period, of course they are all hard copy as digital cameras were not with us then.
  • She was always a challenge to look after as the hull was constantly throwing off resin, so painting was a multi-layered affair of bitumen under-layer, 2x aluminium paint and then 2x white top layer. The Lakeland rain could be relentless;  the Forth Bridge springs to mind.  In the hard winter of 1964, she got ice-damage from the lake, and you probably found some copper plating towards the bow which was the repair.  I have photos of my parents skating round the boat.
  • She had a petrol engine (not the original one) until about 1975, when she was repowered with a Ford 4D diesel.  She ran well but was never speedy; her handling in rough weather, on the rare occasions that we saw such conditions on Windermere, is consistent with the reports of her handling as a lifeboat – not exactly confidence-inspiring.
  • My father died in 1991.  By coincidence, around that time, we were approached by a group associated with the RNLI station in Eastbourne.  To cut a long story short, they convinced us that they had the drive and the wherewithal to restore her to original lines and put her on display in Eastbourne.  It seemed the right thing to do at the time, so Laurita was shipped to Eastbourne on the back of a lorry in about 1992.  At the time, she was in full working order, mostly watertight from above and below, and running well.  I helmed her in to Waterhead under her own power to be craned off.  We did not ask for, nor did we receive, any payment as we saw it as a community-led project and the ownership was never intended to be an issue.
  • With the subsequent death of my mother and the distances involved, we did not follow the progress of the project, but we understood that they had stripped her down and removed all of the decking, wheelhouse conversion and paintwork, but then the project stopped for unspecified reasons and she was subsequently left outside, unprotected from the weather.  It isn't clear to us who subsequently claimed ownership rights and I am disappointed to read that you ended up having to pay for her.  I note that someone has donated a porthole from her previous existence - indeed, she came down complete, I hope that much of the equipment was re-used.

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