Coming back from an 'open day' for crew's families?

By Andy Gilbert and John Hills

Photo:Kathleen Mary

Kathleen Mary

John Hills

A great photo, with lots of interest.

Prime focus is, of course, the 47' Watson Class Newhaven Lifeboat "Kathleen Mary". With members of the public, including children, on board, it's clear that this is a special occasion. What we're looking at is the boat being carefully guided back to the slipway, ready for the bridle to be hooked up to allow her to be winched back into the boathouse. "Kathleen Mary" was the last of the more 'traditional' Newhaven lifeboats to launch down the slipway from the boathouse. Reserve lifeboats would use the boathouse after "Kathleen Mary" was replaced with the Waveney Class "Louis Marchesi of Round Table".

In those days, well before Health and Safety rules became much more strict, the only people on board wearing lifejackets are the crew! And I'd imagine that this was either a trip around the harbour or perhaps out to the pier if there was no swell at all!

What else do we see? Well, "Meeching" is at her usual spot at No.5 Stage and the dredger "Testside" is lying at the Railway Quay. No life on "Meeching" and no steam from the dredger suggests that the photo was taken on a Saturday or Sunday.

Just upriver from "Testside" is the curious work barge with a tall derrick mast. I never knew what that was, so if anyone does know, please comment!

Back on the West Quay, immediately up river from "Meeching" is the fuel barge "Esso Seaford Bay", the smallest vessel to bear the Esso name.

And upriver from her, at the RAF 'Crash Boats' stage is a vessel that has the distinction of having operated for three of the armed forces. Originally the minesweeper HMS Hailsham for the Royal Navy, she became Fleet Auxiliary Vessel 5012 for the RAF but in this photo she's been transferred to the Royal Corps of Engineers. So she's flying the Army's Blue Ensign, and bears the name "R G Masters V.C".


You have Bob Holden standing in the slipway with the checked shirt and Martin Hills in white waders and purple jumper.


Probably a Sunday trip round the bay for a local Womens Institute, in thanks for their fund raising efforts for the lifeboat.

John - Editor


This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 27/10/2017.

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