When local people heard that a former Fleetwood lifeboat was itself in need of rescue, the local community decided to bring the old girl home. Welcome back to Fleetwood, Ann Letitia Russell Lifeboat.
In August 2015 a very sorry-looking former lifeboat made its way along the streets of Fleetwood back to its new temporary home. It was headed for the docks where it was set to be restored back into the beautiful boat it was when it served the local waters in 1939.
Find out about the group who are restoring the lifeboat, their progress, how you can help and what happens next…
Statement From The Committee & The Trustees of The Ann Letitia Russell Lifeboat Rescue Group
5th September 2019
4 years ago The Ann Letitia Russell arrived back in Fleetwood after 39 years away from Fleetwood. Back in 2015 there were lots of people helping to get the group up and running and the project off the ground. Lots of promises of help and donations were made.
Now, in 2019, like lots of other important heritage projects in Fleetwood, all the help and volunteers has dwindled away. A handful of Volunteers are left to carry out the project and run the group.
Important part of local heritage
The Ann Letitia Russell is a very important part of Fleetwood’s Maritime heritage. It shouldn’t be lost like the rest of Fleetwood’s heritage that has been lost over the years. Unfortunately, without the Volunteers this could happen soon.
The Ann Letitia Russell is the former Fleetwood Lifeboat built in 1938 and served as Fleetwood lifeboat from 1939 until 1976. She was involved in 205 rescues, saving 158 lives, awarded 2 RNLI Silver medals and 1 RNLI bronze medal for her rescues.
She was sold out of service in 1977 to become a fisheries protection boat in Ireland. In 1986 she was sold to a private owner in South Wales and converted to a pleasure craft. Later sold on again, she ended up being laid up in a boat yard in Lowestoft, and that owner didn’t have the time to maintain her. In May 2015 he offered to donate the vessel back to Fleetwood on condition that she was not sold but restored and put on public display.
The Rescue Group
The Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group was formed in May 2015. The boat arrived back in Fleetwood August 2015 and soon afterwards work began. The non-original parts were removed so that the boat could be preserved, and lots of volunteers were keen to help at the time.
In 2016 The Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group became a registered charity. Then in November 2017 The Ann Letitia Russell was recognised as an important historic ship and was registered on the National Historic Ships Register.
The current situation of the restoration is that the volunteers have stripped the boat back and done a lot of work towards the restoration. However, they’ve reached a point where they cannot carry out much more work. They can only preserve her until funding is put in place for the restoration and they’ve found (and funded) a permanent home.
The charity has been let down by a local business man that had promised a building to the Group, to be converted in to a Museum. The building has been sold by the owner, so now they’re looking for a new home for lifeboat. Somewhere that she can be displayed in her own Lifeboat Museum while they carry on with the restoration work when she is on display.
How can you help?
Volunteers are urgently needed to help The Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group to continue. Many different volunteer roles are available and there’s a job for everyone who wants to be involved.
- Helping with the restoration of The Ann Letitia Russell.
- Help with fundraising.
- Organising fundraising events.
- Applying for Funding.
- Researching the History of the Ann Letitia Russell.
- Promoting the charity and its work
For more information about The Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group or volunteering please visit their website
Ann Letitia Russell Lifeboat – Progress Update
Published July 2016
The Ann Letitia Russell is now looking less like a houseboat and more like a lifeboat after almost twelve months of hard work.
The cabin has now been completely removed as well as the non slip flooring on the deck. Work has started on sanding down the deck to get it back to its original condition. It’s a slow and laborious job, made slightly easier with the use of a sander rather than doing it by hand. The next big job involves stripping the paint from the hull.
Over the course of their fundraising they’re aiming to raise at least a whopping £10,000 which will pay for the restoration of the boat. A boathouse is also needed, in which to display her once the restoration is complete.
Do you have a building/DIY/wood business? The team have a long list of products which they need to complete the restoration, and would be delighted to receive donations of supplies as well as money.
Find Out More
Donate to the Ann Letitia Russell Rescue:
Account name: The Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group
Account no: 10189845
Sort code: 16-19-31
More information from Jeff Jackson on 07990 838111
Progress Report – Autumn 2015
Work is progressing well on the lifeboat, which is now in the Marina yard at Fleetwood where she will remain during restoration.
Most of the wood and railings from the outside have been removed and inside the cabin has been gutted. While at Lowestoft, the boat was being lived in, and all of the living accommodation has been stripped out (below). The next big job is to remove the cabin itself.
The original deck is in surprisingly good condition. Some of it was cut out to make way for the cabin but that can be replaced.
Bringing the Ann Letitia Russell Home
If you’d been out and about on 18 August 2015 you could have been forgiven for thinking you were seeing things! A huge, almost derelict lifeboat sailed along the A585 and main road into Fleetwood!
The long journey by and large went smoothly, until finally the boat arrived at her destination and was back in her rightful home. Unloading to her new spot at the Marina took place the day afterwards. She’ll remain there until restoration is complete.
The project to rescue the Ann Letitia Russell Lifeboat from her resting place in Lowestoft and bring her back home to Fleetwood is well under way.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the team, she’ll be making the road trip in August, to the ABP Marina Yard where work to restore her will begin in earnest.
A huge amount of work has already been carried out by the people of Fleetwood in a very short time. A committee has been formed, spearheaded by Chairman Jeff Jackson. The bank account is now open and in place (which in itself was easier said than done!), and haulage arranged and paid for to get the boat back home.
Thanks must go to ABP who have agreed to do lifting off and blocking up in the Marina yard for FREE. The group cannot stress enough the generosity of ABP in doing this and confirm that the boat will be sat in the ABP yard FREE of charge.
Huge appreciation also to Fleetwood Town Council who agreed a £4000 grant which will be used to kick-start the restoration plans.
The Story Starts in May 2015…
The Fleetwood Weekly News first reported that the Ann Letitia Russell lifeboat was out of water at Lowestoft. If basic costs could be covered, including £600 in fees owed to the Haven Marina, she could actually be collected and brought back home to Fleetwood.
Conversation followed in the Fleetwood’s Past Facebook group, and it quickly became apparent that there was a will to do just that. A new Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group was set up on Facebook to enable financial pledges and practical pledges of support to be made, in a coordinated attempt to get the rescue project off the ground.
Jeff Palmer was in Lowestoft and took these photos of her current position and condition, which show that the boat is currently out of water and the topside is starting to deteriorate. Most of which would be removed by the restoration team as it was added after she left Fleetwood.
Jeff Jackson is currently co-ordinating the project and told us “We are well over the £1000 mark now in Pledges. Our main aim is to save her as she is just rotting away.
“We are currently trying to find a storage place for her, which is not easy as she is over 40ft long. Our ultimate aim is to have her restored and on display by her 80th birthday in 2018.”
The next step is to form a committee and properly organise the restoration of this Fleetwood treasure, and preserve it for years to come.
The first meeting of the Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group took place on Wednesday 13 May at 7pm in the public bar of the Mount Hotel.
At the meeting a Chairman, Treasurer and Committee were elected, and early plans discussed which will hopefully result in the restoration of this old Fleetwood lifeboat.
If you would like to offer your help, take part in the project, or simply watch a show of community in action, join the Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Facebook group.
More About the Ann Letitia Russell Lifeboat
The Ann Letitia Russell was a 41ft Watson Class lifeboat, one of 13 boats built between 1931 and 1939, from Groves and Gutteridge in Cowes, Isle of Wight.
She was in service between 1939 and 1976 in Fleetwood, before being sold in April 1977. When operational at Fleetwood she rescued 158 souls.
Who was Ann Letitia Russell?
Darren Smith joined the Facebook group and revealed some information about the lady after whom the boat was named. Ann Letitia was the sister of his GGG Grandfather.
The Ann Letitia Russell, bequeathed by Miss Ann Russell of Cheetham Hill, Manchester (l) in memory of her mother Ann Letitia Russell (nee Sadler) (r). Ann also bequeathed the lifeboat John Russell to Montrose in memory of her father.
Ann Letitia Sadler was born in 1810 at Quarndon, Derbyshire, the daughter of John Sadler, a Grocer, and Mary Bagshaw.
She married firstly, on 26/12/1835 at Manchester, Isaac Russell b 1815 Bampton Grange Westmorland. They had one daughter Mary b 1836 at Cheetham Hill. Isaac died 26/10/1838 at Cheetham Hill and was buried at Cheetham Hill Wesleyan Cemetery.
The widowed Ann then married, on 27/09/1841 at Manchester, Isaac’s younger brother John b 1818 Bampton Grange Westmorland. They had one daughter Ann b 1843 at Cheetham Hill.
John died at his house 1 Bampton Grange 07/01/1885, leaving £77,823 in his will, a phenomenal sum back then. Clearly his business ventures as a merchant had paid dividends! Ann Letitia followed on 16/04/1900, leaving £21,015.
The Misses Russell lived together at 1 Bampton Grange after the deaths of their parents, never marrying and dying within days of each other, Mary on 28/01/1925 and Ann on 03/02/1925.
Mary left £60,618 in her will and Ann left an estate of £162,934.
John, Ann Letita, Mary and Ann are all buried at St Paul’s churchyard, Kersal Hill, nr Salford. There are memorial windows to John and Isaac at Bampton Grange Church in Westmorland.
Coxswains of RNLB Ann Letitia Russell
Jeffrey Wright 1939-1948 Silver medal 1941
James Leadbetter 1948-1953 Bronze medal 1949
Herbert Rawcliffe 1953-1954
Albert Wright 1954-1960
Richard wright 1960-1964
Ben Bee 1964-1969
Roy Mitchinson 1969-1976
Motor Mechanics of RNLB Ann Letitia Russell
Sydney Hill 1939-1961 Silver medal 1941
Bryan Gerrard 1961-1972
Andrew Griffin 1972-1976
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