The Chieftain comes to town

Whitstable residents Sue and Richard Judge have recently acquired ex-RNLI lifeboat The Chieftain. Richard has a lifelong connection with Whitstable Harbour through being crew on the RNLI lifeboat for nearly 40 years.

The Chieftain is a 35 ½ foot, Liverpool class lifeboat built by Groves and Gutteridge in Cowes, Isle of Wight in 1948 for the RNLI. She is twin-engined and built of double diagonal mahogany planking on oak frames with a two ton iron keel and lead ballast to provide stability.

In many ways this class of boat was very similar to the earlier pulling and sailing boats in appearance with just the addition of a cuddy for the engines.

The Chieftain served at Barmouth in Wales from 1949 to 1982 and was one of the last of this class of boat to serve on the coast. During her service she was credited with saving 132 lives along with assisting many hundreds of other people to safety.

After retiring she was initially taken over by a museum In Wales but she soon had to be sold and was then used as a trip boat. She was bought by Tony Gatt in 2002 from Wells at the point where she was needing major remedial work.

Tony then spent many years and much time and money in returning her to the condition she was in during her service with the RNLI but with updated mechanical and electrical systems to make her as safe and reliable as possible.

Looking forward to the next phase of Chieftain’s life, Richard says,

“My wife, Sue and I intend to maintain The Chieftain to the same high standard set by Tony Gatt. At the moment she is moored on Faversham Creek but we hope to bring her to Whitstable as often as possible for people to enjoy looking at her.”