James Stevens No.14 Restoration: The world's oldest surviving motor lifeboat.


James Stevens Lifeboat circa 1900
James Stevens No.14 in 1900 outside the Life Boat House Walton (now Waltom Maritime Museum)

James Stevens No.14 in need of restoration as found at Maldon in 1998

The Frinton & Walton Heritage trust had a unique opportunity in 1998 to purchase James Stevens No.14, Walton`s second lifeboat. She was being used as a houseboat and moored in a mud berth in Maldon. She was instantly recognisable as a lifeboat despite a large superstructure. She was up for sale and who could tell what would happen to her if she passed into an unsympathetic pair of hands.

Walton's first lifeboat, Honourable Artillery Company no longer survives, so James Stevens No.14 is the oldest of Walton's surviving lifeboats. Many of her crew have relatives still living in the area. What better gift could Walton`s heritage receive than to have this historic vessel returned for restoration to seagoing condition for future pleasure trips. As a floating exhibit she will illustrate traditional boatbuilding methods, early lifeboat design and hands-on practical experience to the general public.

After ten years of hard work costing £250,000 the restoration project was completed in 2009. James Stevens No.14 is one of only two hundred vessels in the UK National Historic Fleet and is therefore permitted to fly a unique distressed ensign. Trips around local waters will take place during the summer months and it is now possible to book trips.