Hoylake Lifeboat Museum has acquired a third lifeboat for its collection. And a very special vessel she is.
The Louise Stephens was built in 1939 and stationed on the Norfolk coast at Gorleston until 1967. A 46 feet long twin-engined Watson class lifeboat, she had a very distinguished record and performed a number of medal-winning rescues. In all, she was launched on service 311 times, saving 177 lives.
She was one of 5 lifeboats which went to the aid of Convoy FS559 which ran aground of the Norfolk coast on 6th August 1941. This is one of the most famous rescues ever recorded by the RNLI. A total of 9 ships were lost but 119 seamen were saved by the lifeboats and their crews. Legendary Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg won the second of his 3 RNLI gold medals – the lifeboatmen’s VC – whilst Charles Johnson, coxswain of the Louise Stephens was awarded the RNLI silver medal.
But perhaps more famous still was the role Louise Stephens played in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. She was one of the “little ships” which rescued 338,000 troops from the French beaches, making the crossing to France twice and being highly praised for her exploits.
In recent years, Louise Stephens has been used as a fishing boat and is currently moored in Port Ellen, Islay.
Chairman of Hoylake Lifeboat Museum, John Parr, says that “acquiring this historic lifeboat is a milestone for us. We will give her a home to be proud of and hope she will appeal to lifeboat and Dunkirk enthusiasts alike. We hope to sail her back to Hoylake, a trip which would involve stop-overs at Belfast and the Isle of Man. This will be quite an epic in itself. We are proud that we will be able to save this special lifeboat.”
Further details may be found on the Museum’s website www.hoylakelifeboatmuseum.com
Hoylake Lifeboat Museum is a community-based, registered charity. Volunteers and donations towards the Museum’s £400,000 appeal are welcomed.