The hovercraft station which today houses the Burnham-On-Sea hovercrafts was built in a matter of hours in 1994 during a flying visit by Anneka Rice and the crew from the popular BBC TV show Challenge Anneka.
The group behind the Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) had been formed in 1992 when it began fundraising for its own boat house. In June 1994 Anneka Rice came to the rescue, building a station on Burnham seafront in just 72 hours!
The BBC’s TV crew were on hand to record every part of the rapid construction and the final TV show was broadcast on BBC1 a few months later in the prime-time Challenge Anneka show.
The series Challenge Anneka was devised by Anneka Rice herself and actually started as a one-off for the BBC’s Children In Need appeal.
The BBC were so impressed that they gave her a prime-time Saturday slot on BBC1 which was shown between 1989 and 1994. A special show was also aired on ITV1 on Boxing Day 2006. The show instantly became a hit and followed up her earlier success in Channel Four’s Treasure Hunt.
While the Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft house has had minor work done on it in recent years, it still remains in place today and serves as the HQ for Burnham-On-Sea’s lifesaving hovercraft rescue service.
BARB President Neville Jones explained to Anneka Rice how the BARB rescue boat was launched from Burnham jetty
Anneka Rice cut a ribbon at the front of the newly-built BARB station to officially open it in front of the Challenge Anneka TV cameras
The BBC team’s construction work had begun on Monday June 13th, 1994…
Once the foundations had been laid, the building started to take shape…
… and sprung up in just 72 hours, with every step of the process being recorded by the Challenge Anneka TV cameras.
Huge crowds flocked to the seafront to watch Anneka Rice open the new building from a specially-built wooden stage.