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28 October 2014

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The RYDER Lifeboat
The Ryder lifeboat
The Ryder lifeboat around 1930

The RYDER lifeboat served Looe for 28 years.

She is now restored and on display in Polperro harbour.

This is her story.

Polperro Website
Find out more about The RYDER at the Polperro website which is packed with news and features about the area.

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+ The RYDER saved a total of 37 lives during its 28 year service.

+ She was built in London at a cost of £835, funded by a legacy from Mr William Ryder

+ In September 1987 she was about to be burned
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The RYDER lifeboat, now restored and on display in Polperro Harbour, was built in 1902 and served as the Looe lifeboat until 1930.

During her 28 years at Looe, the RYDER was launched on 12 occasions, saving a total of 37 lives in the process.

She was built in London at a cost of £835, funded by a legacy from Mr William Ryder of Brixton, London and went on station at Looe in May 1902.

She was crewed by a coxswain, second coxswain, bowman and ten oarsmen, and fitted with a lugsail and mizzen. Her first coxswain was Edward Toms, succeeded in 1912 by his brother Thomas Toms.

In September 1987 she was about to be burned by a party of Royal Engineers helping with a beach clean up when she was spotted by the Secretary of the Weymouth RNLI, Barney Morris, who had her identified her as the old Looe boat RYDER.

The RYDER stranded on a beach in 1987
By the mid 80s the future looked bleak

The local Royal Engineers commandant, Lt. Col. Ron Overd, who happened to be a Looe man, organised her recovery to premises at Brewers Quay, Weymouth where she was restored and eventually put on display.

In 1995 the Polperro Harbour Trustees, aware of her existence, considered how the RYDER might be recovered for, if a new owner could not be found, she was again due to be burned.

Agreement was reached for the boat to be gifted to the Polperro Heritage Museum and on 5th April 1995 she was transported to the yard of C.Toms & Son at Polruan for restoration.

'Project Ryder' was formed with the intention of fund raising and restoring the RYDER to her original seaworthy condition.

Grants and donations from public bodies, local businesses and individuals enabled restoration work to be completed in 1998.

The RYDER today
Fully restored - The RYDER in 2000

On 1st August that year the boat was re-dedicated by Dick Jolliff, a retired fisherman and lay preacher in Polperro and the inaugural celebrations were led by round-the-world yachtsman Tony Bullimore.

The RYDER is the only surviving Standard Self-Righting Lifeboat - the mainstay of the RNLI for over 80 years around the shores of Britain - to be displayed afloat, and one of only three to have been restored to its original condition. Now 100 years old, the RYDER can be seen at her mooring in Polperro harbour outside the Heritage Museum in the Warren.

Following the tragic loss of Daniel Kebble of Polperro while out fishing on January 8 2000, his father Terry, with Trustees Fr. William Braviner and Chris Curtis, Harbour Master, have set up the Harbour Lights Trust Fund.

Polperro Heritage Museum
The local museum houses many historic artefacts

This will take the form of very low interest loans, with easy repayment terms to help local fishermen to purchase safety equipment.

The French family whose trawler was wrecked in Talland Bay in 1922 returned to Polperro in June for the Looe Festival of the Sea at which Pierre-Adrien Fourny was presented with the safety valve from the Marguerite's boiler - still visible at low tide - mounted on a piece of the oak keel of the Ryder lifeboat that rescued the crew.

The safety valve had been picked up in 1922 by the young Martin Picken, later to become the rector at St Martins by Looe, and upholding the best of Cornish traditions, 'liberated' the safety valve.

In addition, Pierre and his family were re-united with the Ryder lifeboat that rescued the crew of a trawler when it was driven ashore near Polperro.

The Ryder is now a floating exhibit at the Polperro Heritage Museum but took part in the Looe Festival of the Sea and Pierre Fourny joined the crew for the occasion.

For more information visit the Polperro website

Meet the local vicar
Chris Curtis is the local harbourmaster

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