William Riley


2009 Round Up

During the winter months the boat returned to the Magnay and Yates (now renamed Stanegate Restorations & Replica) workshop in Haltwhistle for a final top coat of paint, with a filler coat added to remove the weave effect from the fibre glass. The removal of the weave effect is to make the finish look as if it were just painted, a shame really as I liked the weave texture. The William Riley is destined to be used for display purposes, both static and practical aimed at raising much needed funding for the RNLI, from this aspect it is set for a very productive career, one perhaps longer than its RNLI service. Aside from the more generic fundraising events the William Riley was already committed to a number of fundraising efforts this year.

Courtesy of the RNLI

June heralded the start of the fundraising proper, when the boat appeared at the Bradford RNLI Branch special celebratory flag day. The event was arranged to mark 150 years of fundraising in the city for the lifeboat charity. The former lifeboat was located in the Centenary Square in the city centre, along with RNLI displays and collectors. There is a page dedicated to the Bradford RNLI Branch special celebratory flag day on the RNLI's own website with detailed information, the former lifeboat City of Bradford II seen here courtesy of the RNLI.

The boat's next appearance was at the annual lifeboat weekend here in Whitby on the 20th and 21st where it was prominently displayed close to the bandstand and lifeboat museum.

July was scheduled to be a rather busy month starting with the boat going off to Fleetwood around the 16th for a week where it was planned to be on display at the Great Eccleston Show on Saturday the 18th along with RNLI stalls. Its next arranged event was part of the Fleetwood Transport Festival on the 19th where it was very much part of a parade manually pulled through the town in the Mayoral procession. The highlight of the trip was no doubt the 150th Lifeboat Weekend , where a whole host of events with something for everyone was arranged.

The Mayoral procession
Lucky Passengers

Whitby To Scarborough Row

On Wednesday 29th July the boat was going to be rowed from Whitby to Scarborough to be part of its lifeboat weekend on the 1st August. The plan was for volunteers including some from our local rowing club (Fishermen's Amateur Rowing Club) to row the boat. The rowing club crew are practicing for a 22 mile long row on the Thames next year, when they hope to take the William Riley with them, rowing against the tidal flow, they expected to be on passage for 8 hours. As it was though the journey was cancelled due to poor weather, it had been raining most of the morning but it was the strong wind that prevented its departure.

Scarborough Departure

The return to Whitby took place on Saturday August 1st departing from Scarborough Harbour at 1330hrs, about ½ hour before high water with plans to arrive at Whitby 1830 hours. The weather forecast was for more rain but with less wind. The lifeboat required 10 rowers, a Bowman, one qualified coxswain and an assistant coxswain, and for safety reasons the boat had to be accompanied by a safety boat capable of pulling the 2.5 ton 34ft former lifeboat.

The rowers were drawn from the Scarborough Rowing Club, the Sub Aqua Club and some of the Scarborough Lifeboat crew. My wife and I went through to see the boat off on a day when the weather was constantly changing, we arrived to see the boat transfer to a pontoon nearer the pier where a small crowd had gathered. It was a pleasant day and we were pleased to see the boat off and then arrive back at Whitby later that day, which are reflected in four gallery pages associated with this event.

Swingbridge Celebrations

The 8th August marked Whitby's swingbridge centenary and posters throughout the town had the boat listed as being part of the celebrations, on the day however, there was no sign of the boat. With such a unique chance to present the boat to the public it seems inconceivable that the trust would not have met its obligations missing what was undoubtedly the perfect opportunity to maximise the boat's public relations presence. The swingbridge celebrations were presented allowing the trust ample time to plan this years events for the boat.

Another Ales Angls Triumph

August was quite possibly the busiest month for the William Riley with the main event listed being another ambitious 'Ales Angels' row, the newsletter reported the row as going from Fort William to Inverness. During the Scottish coast to coast fundraiser in aid of the RNLI and other charities, the Yorkshire drinking buddies and fundraising enthusiasts, Ales Angels, rowed across the 60 mile long Caledonian Canal to Inverness with help from volunteer RNLI crew members from Mallaig, Loch Ness and Kessock. The aim was to raise upwards of £5,000 with support through the three days from a group of cyclists from Whitby Rugby Club.

The Caledonain Canal is part of the Great Glen and to help the team raise money for the RNLI, local people were invited to take up the Great Glen Ways 'Boot, Bike and Boat' challenge by running, walking or cycling the route. I have added another page with more detailed information on the Caledonian Canal including a short video the RNLI has from the row as well as a page the Whitby Gazette produced in support of the event.

The boat was expected back in Whitby for a day down at Filey on the 16th. 2009 was without doubt one of the busiest periods for the boat. The boat was scheduled to visit the small fishing port of Seahouses on the east coast where it was expected to be rowed out to the Farne Islands as the penultimate event.

William Riley Centenary

2009 marked a significant milestone for the William Riley, her Centenary and with the boat failing to show for the swingbridge celebrations I expected the trust might have had other plans to commemorate the event, it did though pass without event? The boat was dedicated on the beach in 1909 and it was suggested when I was a trustee that it would be nice to do likewise this year.

A Missed Opportunity

It would have been nice to mark the re-dedication and perhaps see Mrs. Goodwill in action once again as the lifeboat was dedicated by the wife of the sitting MP in 1909.

It seems odd to me as the most popular events the town experiences have now taken place and as such the trust has potentially missed any opportunity to maximise public relations? I learnt that the trust was planning a 'talk' to mark the boats centenary after coming across a small A5 poster of the presentation. Given such little promotion there is no wonder there was but a handful of people present.

September saw a long double booking with a request for display at Poole open weekend on the 5th / 6th and the Southampton boat show on the 11th to the 20th.


The use of the boat for fundraising has continued unabated into 2010 and it has been as busy ever including the fruition of the 'sponsor an oar' scheme, follow the link below to access a William Riley 2010 round up page

Copyright © Colin Brittain 1999 - 2014