RML 526

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
Admin
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Re: RML 526

Postby Admin » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:07 pm

I can’t claim any more knowledge about this than can be gleaned from references made to these boats over the years on the internet, but as I recall it, Western Lady Ferries operated four Fairmile Bs for many years, which as public service boats, would have received regular maintenance, with more money spent on them than any other Fairmile motor launches still existing were likely to enjoy. Having presumably reached the stage where they had to be retired, Western Ferry commissioned new purpose-built boats, at which point they dispensed with their Fairmiles, but kept Western Lady III, RML 497.

As I recall from the owner’s web site at the time, it was taken out of the water to undergo an overhaul, and painted grey, before being put back into service for a ‘third’ life, as an historic boat/excursion ferry, running from Torquay to the Dartmouth River. This is the boat passed to the Royal Navy Museum, who despite their funding capacity, have found the ship’s hull to be at life’s end, and have had to commit it to a static exhibit at Hartlepool. So it strikes me that if RML 497, having had so much care & attention, and money lavished on it over the years can go no further, then any of these boats still in private hands stand no chance, unless their owners are extremely wealthy.

I also get the sense, that not withstanding general ‘austerity’, award bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund with money for MGB 81, HSL 102, and others in recent years, consider that the lot now for these boats. A sad end to one of the last of its kind, but I can’t see any fault due to its owners, who have presumably tried their best and possibly incurred debt through it.

Admin
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Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: RML 526

Postby Admin » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:41 am

I have found the materials I originally saved that detailed the recent history of RML 497. She was released from her service as a ferry in 2007, and then acquired by the Greenway Ferry Company who undertook a £160,000 refit of her, mostly above deck, but also including "two brand new watertight double sheaved bulkheads", before returning to Torbay as an excursion craft in 2009. She was subsequently put up for sale and acquired by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund of £90,600, plus an additional £5,000 from of each of the NMRN and the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust. So all in all that's an input of some £260,000 in just over a decade, yet 497 was still judged unseaworthy in the long run, which illustrates the enormous difficulties now facing these boats. They have all done tremendously well to have lasted this long, but sadly it is now end of life for them.

David Carter
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: RML 526

Postby David Carter » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:01 pm

It is a sad end, but it kept going for nearly 70 years. The owners offered heavily discounted trips to CF Veterans, so we are grateful for that. I attach some pictures taken in Dartmouth 2011.

6284E191-219F-4AD3-A19B-5B6674F86ED4.jpeg
Dartmouth 2011
6284E191-219F-4AD3-A19B-5B6674F86ED4.jpeg (137.21 KiB) Viewed 929 times
50383401-CB96-43B0-A502-6DADAF67E943.jpeg
Dartmouth 2011
50383401-CB96-43B0-A502-6DADAF67E943.jpeg (125.27 KiB) Viewed 929 times


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