Published: February 29, 2012
Burnham lifeboat crew to re-enact historic Cheltenham launch of 1866

Burnham-On-Sea lifeboat crewmembers will this week be re-enacting a lifeboat launch of 146 years ago in Gloucestershire.

In 1866 the people of Cheltenham witnessed a rare event - the arrival and launching of an RNLI lifeboat into a local lake.

The residents had raised the money for a new lifeboat for Burnham and watched with awe as it was floated onto Pittville Lake - as pictured above - so they could see what they had achieved.

Now, 146 years later, the RNLI are launching another lifeboat onto the same lake in a ceremony at Pittville Lake, Cheltenham on Sunday 4th March at 2pm.

It will promote a play about the history of the charity that's being performed at the Parabola Arts Centre in Cheltenham in late March.

It was a special lifeboat fund organised in and around Cheltenham that paid for the lifeboat and carriage that was destined for Burnham.

Both were transported from London free of charge by the Great Western and Bristol and Exeter Railway companies, and on 10th October 1866 the lifeboat was launched onto the lake and named in a public ceremony.

When the lifeboat was launched into Pittville Lake it was, according to The Lifeboat Journal ‘amidst much enthusiasm’, and crowds gathered at the water’s edge to witness the event.

Now, the activities of 1866 are to be re-enacted using a modern day inshore lifeboat, similar to one of those now based at Burnham-On-Sea.

Lifeboat volunteers from today’s lifeboat station will crew the vessel and plan to demonstrate its ability to capsize and be righted.

Ricky Holmes, Burnham's Lifeboat Operations Manager, says it will be an unusual experience: "I'm sure the lifeboat team at Burnham 146 years ago were very grateful to the people of Cheltenham and now we have a chance to say thank you again as we support Alan Tyson, who has written an amazing live performance docudrama about the history of the RNLI."

"Out of the Mist explores the humour, sadness, triumph and disaster that lifesavers since 1771 and that RNLI volunteers have experienced over the last 188 years and we are honoured to have this rare opportunity to bring a modern day lifeboat to the town. We hope lots of people will come along to see the lifeboat, meet the crew volunteers and find out more about this extraordinary play."

Out of the Mist is being performed at the Parabola Arts Centre in Cheltenham on Thursday 29 March (with a matinee performance at 2.30pm and an evening performance at 7.30pm) and at 7.30pm on Friday 30 March 2012.


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