'Dining terrace' plan for remodelled lifeboat shed
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011
A "bold" remodelling of a lifeboat shed set to create "a major tourist destination" is in the hands of planners.
Caister Lifeboat says the changes are needed to accommodate a new all-weather boat and will create "first-class visitor facilities."
The independent lifeboat charity - which operates the only all-weather lifeboat independently of the RNLI - is due to make an announcement in the near future about a successor to the Bernard Matthews II.
Coxswain Guy Gibson and the charity's senior crew have spent two years assessing designs to replace the 17-year-old boat with a larger, more modern vessel.
As a result of the increased size and capability of the new boat, alterations are required to the shed and slipway.
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Mr Gibson said the new boat would be longer, wider, and much more suitable to today's rescue needs.
"That means we need more space," he said.
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Under the plans the ground floor will be for operational crew only, but upstairs will have first-class visitor facilities.
Meanwhile a new cafe/restaurant will be built on the mezzanine inside the shed, with "wings" extending around the hull of the lifeboat to give visitors a close-up view.
It would also feature a dining terrace - all fully accessible - giving views of the beach and dunes towards Great Yarmouth Race Course.
The crew room and coxswain's office would relocate to the ground floor, and outside a new ice-cream and snack kiosk and shop selling Caister Lifeboat souvenirs would be built.
Paul Garrod, the chairman of Caister Lifeboat, said: "These are bold plans, but they would make Caister Lifeboat a major tourist destination.
"Improving the shed, with a better cafe, shop and the ability for visitors to get up close to the lifeboat, would greatly improve our ability to raise more money on site.
"It's that support from our visitors which is the lifeblood our our charity, allowing us to continue to provide lifesaving services on our coast and beaches."
The Skipper Woodhouse Boat Shed was built in 2004 to house the Bernard Matthews II, a Dutch-built Valentijn 2000 class vessel, which was named by HRH Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.