Wednesday, 31 March 2010

William Riley Part II

When she left service the 'William Riley' spent a short time in store before being sold in November 1931 for just £35 to Mr B. Greenstreet of Walthamstow and was converted at some cost into a motor cruiser called 'Whitby II'. By the mid 70's she had moved inland to Stourport where she was fitted with a 2.2 litre engine. In the late 80’s or early 90’s the boat was moved to Devon and moored at Barnstaple, once again named 'William Riley'. After a succession of owners she was sold again in 2001 and had an new cabin and engine fitted. After having been towed in by the RNLI with engine failure she sometime later escaped her moorings and was swept into the low bridge at Barnstaple destroying the wheelhouse. Later, on a low tide, the boat sadly settled onto a mooring post resulting in two holes in the hull below the waterline. The next owner had little time for repair work, so there she remained in a deteriorating and near derelict state. Her cabin rotted and vandalism resulted in further damage to the hull. In 2005 her owner decided to dispose of her by putting her for sale on eBay advertising her as a derelict lifeboat and she was spotted by Dave Charlton, a fundraiser for the RNLI in the North-East who recognised her historical importance.

(thanks to the Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust for the photo)


Martin Douglas said...

The team at Loch Ness RNLI had the great pleasure of assisting in the rowing of William Riley from Laggan to Drumnadrochit on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness.
The people that rebuilt this glorious craft did a wonderful job.
It is both a work of great beauty and a lifeboat that speaks volumes about the heritage of the RNLI.
I urge everyone who gets the chance, to visit the boat during the Carnival week at Swanage.

Loch Ness RNLI team.

Andrew bailey said...

As a previous owner of William Riley Its fantastic to be able to follow the history of this amazing vessel and good to know she still gets wet as intended. I would like to add a little about the history. When I purchased the boat it had no history attached. I firstly found the original name and traced this back to Whitby. I quickly realised that the restoration would be too much for me but there was s small glimmer of hope. I had been contacted by channel 4's 'salvage squad'. They sent a team of engineers to see William with a view to restore her on TV! Sadly they decided there was 'not enough work'', easy for them to say!!! so, as William was from Whitby I thought someone there could do more with her. I drov e from Devon and visited the old lifeboat house to tell them of my find. I was amazed to be told'we already have a rowing lifeboat and the rnli won't let us take that one out any more' . in desperation I placed two adverts in the Whitby paper advertising William to a good home, but no calls. It was then that I hit eBay, buy a boat etc. by pure luck, finding someone so enthusiastic, and with a wish to restore William was the perfect solution. Seeing her lifted out at Barsnstaple to go home was very emotional for all and the restoration is stunning. so despite stories that I was some pillock from Devon who had no idea what he had found I hope that this will at least show I tried to do the right thing by William. I don't get home to Lincolnshire very often but do try and visit the Whitby lifeboat when I do. All the best with the fantastic work you continue to do.

lifeboatjohn said...

Thanks for this Andrew, it's great to be able to add some more detail and texture to the story. Don't worry though, I hadn't cast any judgement on you ...these things happen and sometimes we underestimate a project or bite off more than we can chew!

Please do let me know of any thing else you know of her story...