Second World War survivor RML 497 bids farewell to south coast

After a week of preparation and careful manoeuvre onto a barge at Williams Shipping, Southampton Port, a unique Second World War survivor, Rescue Motor Launch RML 497, bid farewell to the south coast yesterday morning as she embarked on her 420-nautical-mile journey here to Hartlepool.

Following her arrival at PD Ports, Hartlepool, she will be transferred by road and carefully craned into place alongside the msueum and placed into a temporary building.

Yesterday, Monday 21 January, she had a very special visit by motor launch veteran Norman Fowler (94). Norman served on another Fairmile Class B vessel ML 304 as a 19-year-old Sub Lieutenant from May 1944 to July 1945. He also recalls travelling on 497 when she was renamed Western Lady III on her entry to civilian service, as a passenger motor vessel for Western Lady Ferry Service ferry in the South West.

Norman was accompanied by his son Mark Fowler and Sally Weston, Group Engineer for Robert Wynn and Sons Ltd, whose barge Terra Marique will be transporting the valuable load up the east coast.

It is anticipated 497 will arrive in Hartlepool in time for her to be carried, via low loader, through the town, this weekend (subject to weather and tbc.)

Her relocation is in anticipation of a conservation programme to get her on permanent display here at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool telling the rich naval story of the coastal forces in the North Sea.

The exciting move has been made possible by a Tees Valley Combined Authority grant of £499,250 which combined with an investment by the National Museum forms part of a larger regeneration project to the value of £1.1 million. If you would like to support the project, visit our Just Giving page - every pound counts!

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