Plans to restore Dundee's historic lightship North Carr have taken a big step forward with the removal of her two lifeboats for refurbishment.  The restoration of the lifeboats is the first step in a long-term project to fully restore the vessel in time for her centenary in 2033. 

Taymara, the local charity which owns the vessel, bought North Carr in 2010 for just £1 and has already spent £70,000 conserving her.  It is expected that funding of approximately £1.5 to £3million pounds will be needed to complete the completed project, including all planning and securing of specialist skills and equipment required to accomplish the task.  The refurbished vessel will act as an HQ for the Taymara charity as well as providing an additional attraction to the historical Dundee Waterfront and in time acting as a training school for water borne activities within the regenerated Victoria Harbour.  

The ultimate aim is for North Carr to join HMS Unicorn in Dundee's Eastern Graving Dock, where they will form a double maritime attraction.

Derek Taylor, director of Taymara, told the Dundee Courier: “They (the lifeboats) are so fragile we were concerned they might collapse in on themselves.  But we put a bit of wood inside the frames and there was no damage done. They held perfectly.  We think the hulls are quite sound, It’s more about the sides and the top.  They need to be inspected once they’ve dried out a bit.”

The next stage is to get local volunteers from Perth Men’s Shed to restore the lifeboats, as they have shipwrights amongst their team. 

I said I wanted to start with the lifeboats and we’re doing that,” Derek Taylor told the Courier.  “We’ll do it bit by bit and this is a big, big step."

The biggest challenge for the team of volunteers involved in the project is keeping the integrity of the main boat intact until she can move to the dry dock - last year she began taking in water and her condition was described as "critical". 

“We’ve got pumps on board in case she springs a leak,” said Derek.  “We’ve done a fair bit of the refurbishment inside but in the Scottish climate she deteriorates quickly.  It’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge.”

Light Vessel North Carr cost £15,430 to build and was on station at North Carr from 1933-1975.  During World War II, the station was moved between the Mull of Kintyre and the Mull of Galloway as a convoy guide for ships entering Clyde.  In 1952, a major refit was undertaken, installing new diesels and generators.  A radio beacon was installed in 1954 and two years later the Watch House was built.  On 8 December 1958, she was involved in a terrible maritime tragedy when she broke her moorings and the Broughty Ferry Lifeboat and all eight of her crew were lost in the attempted rescue. 

North Carr was sold out of service in 1975 and laid up at Leith.  She operated as a floating museum in Anstruther from 1977 and through the 1980s, but in 1989 financial and technical problems resulted in closure.  She reopened in 1992, then sold in 1995 to Dundee City Council and again in 2010 to Taymara, her current owners. North Carr is now on display in Victoria Dock, Dundee. 

Source: Dundee Courier 

North Carr Region Scotland