PETERHEAD’s most famous lifeboat, the Julia Park Barry of Glasgow, made a triumphantreturn to her home port last week.
The vessel, which was purchased by Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie and gifted to the port, was transported from Fahan Marina in County Donegal, Ireland over to Peterhead via low-loader on Wednesday.
The lifeboat arrived in the Blue Toon at 8.30pm and was taken off the back of the transporter at 8am on Thursday morning to her new temporary ‘berth’ at the Smith Embankment, where she will be under CCTV surveillance until her restoration begins and a permanent home found.
Peterhead Port Authority has already pledged £30,000 towards the restoration project, and now fundraising will get underway in earnest in a bid to create the Peterhead Lifeboat Museum, which will house the 46ft, 24-tonne vessel.
During its 30-year service at Peterhead, the Julia Park Barry launched 162 times, saving 496 lives.
It also earned coxswain John B. McLean the RNLI’s highest honour of a gold medal - the first to be awarded by the institution in Scotland for 104 years.
Commenting on her arrival, Peterhead Port Authority chief executive, John Wallace, said it was a very special day.
“I’d like to thank the wonderful gift from Ms Julia Park Barry of Glasgow. This was a bequest from her will to the RNLI and I’d like to thank her and the RNLI and all those who served on her.
“I’d also like to recognise Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie for his vision in recognising the cultural and heritage value of this vessel to the people of Peterhead.
“The vessel’s legacy of saving almost 500 people over 30 years must be difficult to match and we want to build a fitting tribute to that service so that people who visit this area, and who live in this area can learn from the bravery and courage that has existed throughout this port’s history.”
He continued: “It must have been a wonderful sight to see this lady approaching in your most dire moment of need. She was the answer to many a prayer.
“We have a wonderful group of trustees who have joined together to form Peterhead Lifeboat Museum and they will be doing all they can to bring this wonderful project to fruition.”
It is hoped that the vessel will be sited within a building with toilets and a small workshop incorporated, and opened up to the public as testament to the great service provided by her.
The steering group involved in the restoration project includes, Peterhead Port Authority, architects McAdam Design Partnership, Masson & Glennie, representatives from Peterhead Business Forum, Peterhead Family History Society, Peterhead Community Council and thelocal RNLI station.
Draft plans for the site have been drawn up and possible sources of funding for the project - which is estimated at around £300,000 - are being investigated.
Mr Wallace added: “It is a very exciting project and something which I think the people of Peterhead will get enthusiastically behind.”
Anyone with any information or connection to the Julia Park Barry are requested to contact john@peterheadport,co.uk