25 June 2012

Pier work starts with new £9.5m boathouse for Mumbles

The RNLI is setting the foundation for the future of The Mumbles RNLI Lifeboat Station, as enabling works for the station’s new boathouse get underway.  The ambitious project to provide a home for the new Tamar class lifeboat is estimated to take 18 months to complete.

The new boathouse, which is to be sited at the head of Mumbles Pier, is a key feature of a joint regeneration and restoration project for the 113 year-old structure. Construction of the new boathouse and slipway will present the RNLI with some significant challenges. The boathouse will sit in a unique position within the footprint of the pier, which has listed status.

Howard Richings, Head of Estates Management for the RNLI explains:

'The Mumbles is an iconic lifeboat station and, in common with the other Tamar stations completed in recent years, presents significant technical and logistical challenges.  The delicate nature of the historic pier means that the materials and construction plant will be brought in by sea to a jack-up barge that will provide the craneage for the piling and building work.  An additional challenge unique to this project is the extreme tidal range - one of the biggest in the world - this will significantly affect construction of the slipway much of which lies in the inter-tidal zone and will be subjected to strong currents and rapidly changing water levels.

'Our appointed contractor, BAM Nuttall, has considerable experience on similar projects for the RNLI and is looking forward to embarking on this exciting project and bringing the plans off the drawing board and turning them into reality.  We all have our fingers crossed for fair weather for the next 18 months.'

Pier owners, AMECO Ltd are thrilled that this important milestone had been reached.

John Bollom Managing Director of AMECO Ltd said:

There has been overwhelming public support for plans to restore the pier. The ability to work in partnership with the RNLI towards this end has been very much appreciated. We are looking forward to announcing a schedule for a series of foreshore developments, including a new boardwalk, in the near future.’

The Mumbles has been allocated a Tamar class lifeboat which is faster and more advanced than their current Tyne class. A fundraising drive to help raise £150,000 towards the £2.7M lifeboat was launched locally in 2009 by the late Steve Wood, from Plasmarl, Swansea. Steve, a long time RNLI supporter sadly passed away in 2010.

Cash flowed in towards the local appeal which smashed its target. RNLI fundraisers will soon be hard at work to meet the cost of the remainder of the total to ensure the lifeboat arrives at its new home once building work is complete.

Last month, representatives from The Mumbles RNLI travelled to Plymouth to watch a Tamar being capsized under controlled conditions. The trip to Plymouth has created a renewed air of excitement amongst crew.

RNLI Divisional Inspector for Wales and the West Colin Williams says:

‘The Tamar is the most technologically advanced lifeboat ever produced by the RNLI, we owe it to our volunteer crews to provide them with the very best lifeboats.  Being able to provide this fantastic new lifeboat is thanks to the continued generosity of the public for which we are continuously grateful. 

 ‘We are delighted that work to the new boathouse at The Mumbles is getting underway and thank the public for their continued patience and support as we provide the necessary base for 21st century lifeboating. We thank AMECO for their close co-operation throughout the project which will contribute to the overall restoration of the pier.’

The Tamar features modern technology to enhance its lifesaving capabilities. Compared to the Tyne class lifeboat, the Tamar is bigger – 16 metres as opposed to 14 – and has a faster response time, with a speed of 25, rather than 17 knots.

The Tamar includes the computerised Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) that enables crew to control many of the lifeboat's functions remotely from the safety of their seats. Other features include advanced ergonomics, that reduce the impact on the crew as the lifeboat crashes through waves, and a powered Y boat stored behind a transom door to allow immediate deployment.

The first Tamar went on station at Tenby in Wales in 2006, followed by Angle in 2009.