November will mark the start of one of the RNLI’s biggest construction projects when work begins on the new Swanage lifeboat station. Over an 18-month period, the existing boathouse at Peveril Point will be demolished and a new facility will then be erected in its place. This will house one of the charity’s new state of the art Shannon class all weather lifeboats and serve the station for at least the next 80 years.
Christopher Refoy, RNLI Estates Construction Manager, says the project will be an exciting challenge for everyone involved:
‘This project has taken some considerable time to come to fruition. Building construction in the maritime environment is always interesting, and at times extremely challenging for both the designers and our Contractors. This project has its own particular characteristics, not least of which is the immensely constrained site. This is a huge challenge for both our Contractor, BAM Nuttall, and for our volunteer crew who will maintain the lifeboat service at Swanage without interruption throughout the duration of the works.’
The new boathouse will represent a £3.5 million investment, which will be met by the many generous donations made to the charity by the public, including some that have been left in legacies specifically for building projects. Over £200,000 of which has been raised by local RNLI fundraisers through the community, money which has been raised through local events, personal challenges, and overwhelming support from other RNLI fundraising branches.
‘Before building work can begin, the site for the temporary crew accommodation and contractors compound needs to be prepared. In November, work will begin in Swanage Boat Park to install the accommodation units that the lifeboat crew will use as temporary facilities, along with the Contractors accommodation and a unit to temporarily house Swanage Angling club. It is currently planned that the lifeboat station will become operational from its temporary accommodation in December, and demolition of the current lifeboat station will start in January.’
Throughout the duration of the build, both of Swanage’s lifeboats will remain fully operational. Neil Hardy, Swanage RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, says:
‘There’s no pretending that the next 18 months are going to be easy. The demands on the Coxswain and volunteer crew are going to be enormous and I thank them in advance for their patience and goodwill. But we will come out of the project with a superb new lifeboat station that will be a delight to the RNLI team here and a vital investment for the future of the RNLI in Swanage.
We’re spending this month clearing out the current station of non-operational items and putting them into storage. Our temporary buildings arrive at the beginning of November and we’ll then spend time moving into these and transferring over our operational equipment ready for the start of the build.’
Because of the need for space for the temporary facilities, Swanage Boat Park will be closed from the end of October 2014 to Spring 2016 when the build is completed. The public slipway will remain open subject to the on-going construction work. Where possible these periods of closure will be posted in advance on a dedicated website www.swanageboatpark.co.uk. Via the website, boat users can also opt to be kept up to date by email or by following @swanageboatpark on twitter.