Askam near Barrow in Furnace gets a new lifeboat
17th February 2016
Askam Gets a new Type 1B1 D class inshore lifeboat
The edge of the Duddon estuary is where our lifeboat station is based in the village of Askam. The local people built the boathouse with their bare hands with money and materials donated after local people were drowned in our estuary.It was decided that we needed our own station and boat to respond quickly to anyone in trouble in the fast flowing tides of our estuary. We realised that we could be better served than the RNLI boat stationed several miles away in Barrow if we had our own boat on our doorstep. Our Askam lifeboat was started long ago in1969 and since then had over four hundred call outs, some ending tragically and some heart warming where lives have been saved. Our lifeboat station was built on land donated free to us, the tractor and boat loaned by local lads, petrol and money for the outboard motor was even given by our chairman the late Bernard Mcnamee in the early days, he was eventually awarded the MBE for his dedication and constant fund raising. Bernards family still work tirelessly today helping to keep the station going strong. Many local people leave money in their wills and church collections are common. It is getting even harder with ever more health and safety laws and regulations as our friends in the fishing industry can attest too. Hence we can finally buy a brand new Type 1B1 D- Class inshore lifeboat and motor which arrived into our village to much joy and celebration and something to be proud of. It gives us piece of mind to know that the volunteer crew have the best training and equipment that money can buy when risking their lives for others in the treacherous tides of our estuary.
The Duddon has been the graveyard of many fine ships and crews over the centuries, a constantly changing sandbar at the entrance moves almost daily making it very difficult to find a safe channel. Many fine sailing ships have foundered trying to cross the bar, being rolled over and dismasted, the wreckage and cargo being washed up around the shoreline. Many huge schooner anchors have been trawled up by fishing boats hunting for the huge plaice and Dover sole which abound around the bar. I myself have caught several schooner anchors over the years whilst trawling the bar in calm weather, donating several to Barrow Dock museum This excellent museum is a must if visiting the famous submarine builder at Barrow, the museum is built over a huge graving dock and is full of interesting items also having a lovely cafe to sit in whilst watching the tide roll up Walney channel.
The Duddon estuary is used for mussel/cockle collecting and bank lining for flatfish. Drift netting for bass, trawling and shrimping. The extensive shoreline and mudflats are also used by local wildfowlers in season. Some shallow draught boats are still launched using tractors the most sought after being Cheetah cats perfect for the shallow water in our estuary.They have great carrying capacity, are very fast to get to the distant grounds quickly and the outboards are economical to run. Our grand daughter's husband is on his third new Cheetah which he uses for potting and netting. At one time five Cheetah cats were netting and potting full time from Barrow and Askam landing large quantities of crabs and lobsters, now a huge wind farm has been built off our coast and the skippers and crews work on the wind farm boats. It is left to a few part timers now.
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