Historic lifeboat to be restored to former glory

A historic lifeboat will be brought back to life thanks to some cash from the Federal Government.

The Victoria was involved in one of the most dramatic rescues in Newcastle’s maritime history – in 1904, French sailing ship Adolphe ran aground at the mouth of the Hunter River. Despite huge swells, the heavily vessel carried 47 people to safety including the lifeboat’s own crew, who were hailed as heroes and rewarded with a purse of sovereigns from the Consul-General for France, who made a special visit to Newcastle to thank them.

The vessel is going to be preserved for future generations  in a project being carried out by Newcastle Museum.

The first stage of the conservation work, which will see damaged timbers in the vessel’s bow replaced by a skilled local shipwright, will get underway next year after Newcastle Museum was awarded more than $6500 through the Federal Government’s Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme.

Newcastle Museum Manager Collections and Community Partnerships, David Hampton, said the Victoria is a central and significant artifact from Newcastle’s maritime history used between 1897 and 1946 to enact some of our harbour’s most daring rescue missions.

Members of the Adolphe crew rescued by the Victoria lifeboat in 1904. Photo credit: Newcastle & Hunter District Historical Society Collection, Special Collections, University of Newcastle (Australia).

“Newcastle Museum plays an important role in interpreting and preserving our city’s fascinating history and telling local stories,” Mr Hampton said.

“For almost half a century, the Victoria and its brave crew contested the turbulent waters in what was at the time one of the most dangerous harbours in the world to come to the aid of ships off Newcastle’s coast.”

The Victoria’s final mission occurred on 23 July 1921 when the lifeboat crew battled gale-force conditions in Stockton Bight for 15 hours to rescue crewmen from the struggling steamer CENTURY.

The historic vessel has formed part of various heritage collections since being officially retired from service and was among several significant objects from the Newcastle Maritime Museum Society Collection transferred into the care of Newcastle Museum earlier this year.

Previous ArticleNext Article