VANDALS have wrecked a famous lifeboat which a former RNLI captain has been restoring in Harwich for the past five years.

Veteran Harwich sailor Rod Shaw was devastated to discover the ex-Penlee lifeboat he has spent hundred of hours repairing had been damaged by yobs on Tuesday.

The vandalism happened at about 6.30pm, and Mr Shaw believes the boat will cost £5,000 to repair.


The boat, built in 1930, saved more than 100 lives in its 40 years as an RNLI lifeboat and its coxswain and crew were awarded bravery medals.

The vessel is also recorded on the National Register of Heritage Boats.

Mr Shaw has spent five years trying to restore the vessel to her former glory after salvaging her from a field in Cornwall.

Mr Shaw, who ran Harwich Lifeboat Station for 35 years, said the restoration of the boat is his retirement project which is also keeping him linked to the RNLI.

He said: “It’s a project I have been working on for a long time.

“All of the parts which have been restored so far are bespoke, which is why it will cost so much money to repair.”

The boat is made of mahogany on oak frames and was specially strengthened to launch down the slipway at Penlee in Cornwall.


He added: “Hundreds and hundreds of hours have been spent on bringing this boat back to life.

“The vandalism will cost over £5,000 to repair because some of the damage is to original fixtures and fittings which are not readily available.”

The boat still holds the record of being the longest-serving lifeboat on a single lifeboat station.

When it was eventually changed, its replacement, Solomon Browne, was tragically lost with all its crew when trying to rescue the crew of the Union Star vessel on December 19, 1981, in what is now known as the Penlee Disaster.

Following the vandalism, witness statements are being collated and CCTV recordings are being viewed.

If you have any information call Essex Police on 101 quoting crime number 42/152701/20 or visit