About Rescue Wooden Boats

Boatbuilders David Hewitt and George Hewitt, together with several wooden working boat enthusiasts based in North Norfolk set up the charitable trust called Rescue Wooden Boats in 2011.


To acquire, restore, maintain and use examples of heritage maritime wooden working craft and in so doing, tell their stories though the people who crewed them and provide education about their history, construction, maintenance and use as well as about the crafts involved in all of these.

To invite educational visits and trips to the soon to be opened Visitor Centre and the yard to build understanding of the history of working boats and the crafts involved in their building, maintenance and use, as well as the films and photographs providing educational and archive value.

Project work

Lucy Lavers
Rescue Wooden Boats has been given the historic Lifeboat Lucy Lavers a Liverpool single screw class, built in 1940, donated by the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust. The plan is to restore her to her original condition by 2015 so she can actively be used afloat in Wells-next-the-Sea, and also returned to Dunkirk by sea in 2015 for the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of troops from the beaches.

Black Beauty
A North Norfolk crab boat donated by Andy Frary, also requiring restoration.

A whelker built by Johnson in 1935 for the Cox family.  She too may also have Dunkirk history and requires complete restoration.

A whelker built in 1951 by Emery for Sid 'Custard' Cooper, donated by Graeme Peart, ready to use and sailing on the water, helping to promote Rescue Wooden Boats.

Crab boat built by Billy May in 1974 for Geoff Fox of West Runton. She has been in Scotland for about 15 years with Bernard Thain and his family, earning her keep supplying their restaurant and farm shop with seafood. She is due to be returning home in April 2013 for trips afloat in the summer.

Education Film & Photos

Rescue Wooden Boats are creating an educational film and photo archive of these working boats. They have filmed lifeboat crew members who have served on Lucy Lavers and other lifeboats and fishermen who made their living using boats like Black Beauty and Bessie.

These films will soon be accompanied by education packs for schools to help use the films and plan visits to see the maritime history and boat restoration.

Click here to find out more about Rescue Wooden Boats and their current projects.

NEWS: Buy your film tickets now!

Buy tickets now for our film screenings August 12th, 12.00 and 3.00!

Tickets are available now for special screenings of Lucy Lavers return to Dunkirk 75 years on!  

As part of our Maritime Heritage Event at Creake Abbey on Saturday, 12th August 10 - 5.00, there will be two showings of this fascinating film - 12 noon, and 3pm.  All proceeds from the day will support fundraising for our next project, Whelker Bessie.  Like Lucy Lavers, Bessie also has an intriguing Dunkirk history. 

Each ticket includes one free drink - buy your tickets here!  

There will also be further maritime heritage short films, displays, a wooden crab boat, family activities and knowledgeable people to chat to.....

Maritime Heritage Event - 10.00 am - 5.00 pm, Saturday 12th August, at Creake Abbey, North Creake, Norfolk, NR21 9LF.


NEWS: Hot off the press!

The NEW Rescue Wooden Boat Calendars are now in stock at our Martime Heritage Centre in Stiffkey. Come and visit this Bank Holiday weekend and buy yours, £9. Available online soon.

NEWS: Hot off the press!

The NEW Rescue Wooden Boat Calenders are now in stock at our Maritime Heritage Centre in Stiffkey. Come and visit this Bank Holiday weekend and buy yours for £9. Available online soon!

 NEWS: Lucy Lavers is a winner at the Classic Boat Award 2016 in the "Powered Vessels Under 40ft" category - April 2016

Rescue Wooden Boats trustees Wendy Pritchard and Henry Faire were delighted to attend the Classic Boat Award 2016 to collect Lucy Lavers' award as winnder in the "Powered Vessels Under 40ft" category - April 2016.

The event was held at the exhibition of James Dodds paintings at Messums and the award was presented by Tom Cunliffe and Classic Boat editor, Rob Peake. 

Read more here.

 NEWS:  Lucy Lavers relaunched - May 2015

Following a four year restoration project, the historic former lifeboat Lucy Lavers was finally relaunched on 4 May 2015.  A crowd gathered at the East Quay, Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk to see the results of hard work by the restoration team at Rescue Wooden Boats. 

Watch this clip of the launch event.

NEWS:  Great progress as new displays added in the Visitor Centre – June 2014

The refurbishment of the Rescue Wooden Boats Visitor Centre at Skiffkey, entered a new phase recently.  A great many new displays of fishing, wooden boat building heritage and the Military Camp have been added.  A celebration event was held to mark this latest progress.  See this short clip for more details.

Visitor Centre opening information:

School holidays   Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays  10am - 4.00pm
Term time    Saturdays and Sundays  10am - 4.00pm

The Visitor Centre is just beyond the High Sands Campsite office in Greenway, Stiffkey NR23 1QF:


NEWS The Visitor Centre - Summer 2013

The former Officers' Mess at the Old Military Camp in Stiffkey to be Rescue Wooden Boats' Visitor Centre which is now open at weekends 10.30 - 16.30. This is Phase One. With your feedback they will develop a fuller Phase Two and update it with new material as time goes on.

There are displays, films, photos and artefacts as well as the opportunity to see work progressing in the boatyard workship a few yards away in Dunkirk veteran lifeboat Lucy Lavers.

The Visitor Centre is just beyond the High Sands Campsite office in Greenway, Stiffkey, NR33 1QF.

NEWS Online videos - Apr 2013

Rescue Wooden Boats has uploaded some 70 short films, many of them of old time fishermen talking about their work and lives - here are some of the examples.

The organisation also has a substantial online photo archive.

NEWS Grant award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - Dec 2012

Rescue Wooden Boats has secured £99,300 to restore the historic lifeboat Lucy Lavers.  The plan is that she is ready in time to return to Dunkirk in 2015 for the 75th anniversary celebrations of the evacuation of troops from the beaches in 1940.

When fully restored she will be returned to the water in Wells, where she once served, providing a living piece of history for the community to enjoy and learn from.

Rescue Wooden Boats, based at Stiffkey near Wells, aims to acquire, restore, maintain and use heritage maritime wooden craft.  The charity was founded by brothers David and George Hewitt, from Blakeney, who are boat builders, craftsmen and wooden working boat owners and Graham Peart, from Saxlingham and Wendy Pritchard from Burnham Norton who are wooden boat owners and enthusiasts.

Ms Pritchard said: "We are thrilled to have been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding.  The grant means a great deal to our charity and, more importantly, it means we can restore Lucy Lavers to her full potential and start to raise funds to take her back to Dunkirk in 2015."

After her trip in 2015, Lucy Lavers will be used for learning visits and trips over the summer and for maintenance and learning visits in the winter.

The fund-raising associated with her summer activities will support her winter maintenance.

Rescue Wooden Boats will continue to involve schools, history and adult education groups and the general public in understanding and learning from Lucy Lavers' history and construction.

Image top: 'North Norfolk Crabber' tryptych painting by James Dodds.




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Shipshape symbol Shipshape Network
Park Row, Greenwich
London SE10 9NF

tel: 0208 312 8558
fax: 0208 312 6632
email: info@shipshapenetwork.org.uk

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