The RX Dorothy MelindaThe RX Dorothy Melinda
The RX Dorothy Melinda

Stay of execution for historic Sussex fishing boat ear-marked for demolition

The campaign to save an historic Sussex fishing boat from the scrap heap has gained momentum

The RX Dorothy Melinda is one of the few remaining examples of a wooden clinker built boat and has been on display outside Hastings railway station for more than 15 years.

She was due to be removed and demolished at the end of January, due to her deteriorating state, but local man Peter Carney is leading a campaign to have her restored and put on display in Hastings old Town.

Dorothy Melinda was originally built in Newhaven in 1958 for local fisherman, Jimmy 'Toller' Adams. He fished in her for 26 years, beach-launched from Hastings fishermen's beach, until 1984.

There is now only one wooden decked fishing boat working off Hastings beach.

Peter said: “I have contacted Hastings Borough Council to arrange to remove her for restoration at no cost to the council. Fundraising, sponsorship, and volunteers will be needed. She looks decidedly rough but can certainly be restored if the will is there.

"She wants tender loving care not a wrecking ball. After the destruction of RX134 Stacey Marie last year, Hastings now has only seven full-size wooden fishing boats left and it could very easily be only four before very long.”

Things are looking hopeful for the campaign in the latest development. Peter explained: “The railway want the boat moved at night to minimise disruption, but the crane company can only move it by day because loads wider than 2.4 metres are forbidden on the highway during the hours of darkness. I have therefore asked for the stay of execution to be extended until June, when it is light at 5am, so that it can be loaded without disruption and travel on the roads legally. I am waiting to hear from the council if that will be accepted.

The delay provides a longer window for the fund raising campaign to reach its target.

Former Hastings Council tourism chief Kevin Boorman confirmed last year that the boat was to be removed, saying: “It has been badly vandalised, unfortunately, and is beyond economic repair. It has been there for around 15 years, longer than we'd expected.”

East Hastings Sea Angling Club have agreed to accept the boat at its boatyard on the beach close to the Stade. Several old boats have been restored there in the past, including the two retired lifeboats that are on display in Hastings.