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Survivor is back to her former glory

PUBLISHED: 17:53 21 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:25 06 July 2010

IT was Southwold's new sailing and rowing lifeboat in 1893, answering distress calls from stricken seamen on the Suffolk coast.

And now, after being abandoned, converted into a pleasure yacht and then restored to her original use, the lifeboat is nearly back to her 19th century glory.

IT was Southwold's new sailing and rowing lifeboat in 1893, answering distress calls from stricken seamen on the Suffolk coast.

And now, after being abandoned, converted into a pleasure yacht and then restored to her original use, the lifeboat is nearly back to her 19th century glory.

Thanks to a 10 year effort by a group of volunteers, the lifeboat just needs some internal work and a final coat of paint and varnish to finish the job.

The lifeboat is the centre piece of the Alfred Corry Museum, Southwold, and the other exhibits have also been revamped to give visitors information on the men who risked their lives saving others from the sea.

John Cragie donated the lifeboat after using it as a yacht and is the great-grandson of the first coxswain.

“The thing that strikes me about the whole thing is that she keeps coming back. She has always survived,” said Mr Cragie.

“Generations of my family have been on this boat and it's still going on.”

Mr Cragie said the cost of the restoration was so far at just £6,000 thanks to the time given by volunteers and donated materials.

Work carried out by the team of volunteers - who all have family connections to the Alfred Corry - during the last year include finishing the foremast and mizzen mast, fitting the bow fender and putting in place all the standing and running rigging.

A lot of the work was carried out by Richard Leon, a self-taught boat builder from Reydon,

The displays were updated by Frank Upcraft, with photographs and personal information provided by the families of the crew members - including the story of how one of them was captured by pirates.

Mr Upcraft, from Reydon, hopes the new exhibits will appeal to youngsters and get them interested in their heritage.

“I'm trying to show what life was like back then,” he said.

“Kids need to see that you can't do everything by yourself - you need friends and comrades if you're pulling in to shore in a storm. You can't survive on your own.”

The Alfred Corry Museum, Ferry Road, is open daily from 10.30am to midday and 2.30pm to 4.30pm, except Wednesdays and donations are welcome. To arrange a visit outside hours call 01502 723200.

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