Calls to bring old White Rose back home

The White Rose of Yorkshire standing unused in Canada
The White Rose of Yorkshire standing unused in Canada

A former Whitby lifeboat is languishing beside a river in Canada, amid calls the boat should be returned home.

The White Rose of Yorkshire was Whitby’s all-weather lifeboat from 1974 until 1988, when it was replaced by the new City of Sheffield rescue vessel.

Following its retirement, the Waverney class lifeboat served with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, before finally being sold to a private buyer in 2008.

Since then the vessel has been berthed by the Westham Island Bridge in Canada’s British Columbia region, where Gazette reader Mairi Maxwell was able to take the above image.

Mrs Maxwell said: “We see her often and I am always so sad she is unused and unloved. She was sold to a private party who had great plans, which obviously did not work out.”

The RNLI itself would be unable to purchase the vessel as their funds are strictly reserved for saving lives at sea. However, the Whitby Historic Lifeboats Trust was established following the purchase of the William Riley and chairman Pete Thomson said he would embrace the opportunity to save the lifeboat.

He added: “I believe we should preserve them as much as we can. We must not ever lose them all, either to the scrap yard or private ownership.”

However, before the boat could be returned, a private benefactor would need to be found to purchase the vessel and pay for its transportation. The historic trust itself does not have the funds to do this.

Barry Snedden, owner of the other Mary Ann Hepworth, has experience of bringing a former lifeboat back to the port and creating a private income to fund its maintenance.

The first RNLI vessel former lifeboat crew member Mr Snedden served upon was the White Rose of Yorkshire, and so it holds a special place in his heart.

“It’s lovely, a good sea boat, and it would be marvellous to get it back,” he said.

When purchasing the Mary Ann Hepworth in 1985, Mr Sneddon spent £15,000 on the boat itself, and another £6,000 on transporting the vessel.

Additional costs include staff wages and regular repair work - just this week the 75-year-old vessel required extensive engine maintenance.

Yet Mr Sneddon said the preservation of a piece of Whitby’s history would make the monetary outlay worthwhile. He added: “These things disappear forever if they are not looked after. Whitby is a heritage town and it’s important to keep these things alive.”