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Windmill & Lifeboat Museum

Mills, Lifeboats and Local History



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The Old Lytham Lifeboat House

Lifeboat House

Next door to the Windmill is The Old Lytham Lifeboat House constructed largely of cobblestones, these being a feature of many Lytham buildings. The Shipwrecked Mariners Society, later replaced by the  RNLI, first  stationed a lifeboat  at Lytham in 1851 and the twelve lifeboats that have been stationed in Lytham over the years have saved hundreds of lives.

Lytham lifeboat is synonymous with the 'Mexico disaster' of 9 December 1886, along with the St Annes and Southport lifeboats. In heavy gales, the 400 ton German barque 'Mexico' went aground on the sand banks of the Ribble Estuary near Southport. All three lifeboats were launched. After shattering 3 oars and being filled numerous times with water, the Lytham crew, in their new vessel the Charles Biggs ,miraculously managed to rescue all the Mexico's crew of 12, who had lashed themselves to the ships rigging. Tragically the Southport and the St Annes lifeboats were capsized by huge waves. Only two Southport crew members survived and the entire St Annes crew perished. In all 27 crew members lost their lives in what is still regarded as the worst disaster in RNLI history.

For many years the Old Lifeboat House was a museum, telling the story of Lytham lifeboats from 1851 to the present day. It is hoped that the Grade II listed building, which closed in 2004, will reopen to the public in 2010, with a new exhibition.

Alan Ashton, Chairman of The Group said:

"There is still a little bit of work required to the building before we set up the inside. We are trying to re-create the type of situation that existed in the lifeboat stations 150 years ago. The funding for a lot of the project will come from The Group's finances and from individuals who have already come forward offering their support. We don't know how much it will cost yet. We are hoping to be open soon but there is a lot of work to be done."
"We want to make it as authentic as possible and the lifeboat service has offered us support. It is an extremely exciting project, because nowadays it is possible to create sounds and smells for people. I'm quite confident it will give a boost to tourism in the area. Lytham has a history of terrific lifeboat support."

The project has received the backing of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Andy Fallow, spokesman for the RNLI, said:

"I'm sure the historians in the RNLI lifeboat station would help out any way they could, as they originally set up the Museum. Our head office keeps archives and they would be available to aid a project like this. The Museum which was there before was an excellent exhibit. If we could reopen another one it would be great."







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