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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 19:11 GMT
Bon voyage for old Tenby lifeboat
Simon Evans on board the John R Webb
Mr Evans rescued the boat from a mud bank at Southend-on-Sea
A lifeboat enthusiast living near Paris is offering to return an old Tenby lifeboat to Pembrokeshire if the town's former RNLI station becomes a museum.

A decision is expected soon on whether to demolish the famous old building after a replacement was sited nearby.

Simon Evans is the current owner of the John R Webb, Tenby's first motorised lifeboat which was launched in 1923.

One of the suggestions put forward to try to save the old station was to turn it into a museum.

Mr Evans has 19 lifeboats in his collection at a boatyard in Sans, about 80 miles south of Paris.

These also include the Charlie Medlan, which was based at Mumbles from 1905 and was one of the RNLI's former boats from Anglesey.

Mr Evans rescued the John R Webb - which saved 32 lives during its seven years of service - from a mud flat at Southend-on-Sea about 20 years ago.

He said: "When I first walked on she was warm and welcoming - she has a very specially feeling to her.

"An awful lot of people reckoned she was not safe but I looked at her and thought she was of very fine quality. The hull was more sound than people thought."

He admitted the vessel had seen better days and there was still a lot of work needed to make it ship shape.

The John R Webb in action (Photo RNLI)
The John R Webb was used in Tenby between 1923 and 1930

But he said if the old station were to become a museum then it would be fitting that one of its original boats was returned.

"I would be sorry to see her go from my collection, but one has to be realistic and the reality is she has probably got more of a place at home in Tenby than she has in the middle of France," he added.

Since the old Tenby lifeboat station was built in 1905 the listed building has featured on thousands of postcards sent around the world from the Pembrokeshire resort.

A modern replacement station opened two years ago and the RNLI says it cannot afford to pay for the upkeep of both.

It has put forward plans to demolish it, which have divided opinion.

Tenby's civic society is supporting the demolition, but the Victorian Society hopes the building will be retained.

The Welsh Assembly Government's historic environment division Cadw will have the final say.


SEE ALSO
Split over lifeboat station plan
24 Jan 07 |  South West Wales
Lifeboat completes first rescue
18 Apr 06 |  South West Wales
Lifeboat first for Tenby station
02 Mar 06 |  South West Wales
New 5.5m home for Tenby lifeboat
01 Mar 05 |  South West Wales

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