Beach becomes film set for lifeboat restoration project

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110258001
Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110258001

People walking along the beach at Hastings on Saturday may have been surprised to encounter a troop of World War II soldiers.

Some of the soldiers were wrapped in blankets, others appeared to be bloodied and wounded.

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110350001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110350001

Just yards away a folk band with a group of singers were giving voice to a new song, using as a stage the famous old Hastings lifeboat The Cyril and Lillian Bishop.

The scenes were being filmed as part of an ongoing project to restore the lifeboat, which earned the name The Ghost of Dunkirk, for the part she played in evacuating stranded troops from the war-torn beach in France.

The band, Jiggery Pokery, have recorded a special song to commemorate the boat’s war-time exploits and filming was taking place on the beach.

The resulting film footage will be screened on Friday January 20 at a special fund-raising concert which takes place at St Mary in the Castle, on Hastings seafront, from 7pm.

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110456001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110456001

The historic lifeboat is currently being renovated in a boat yard just a short distance from where she would have been launched hundreds of times 85 years ago. The renovation work is being carried out by Dee Day White, Tush Hamilton, Adrian Lindsay and Phil Hornsby.

Dee Day White spoke of the great co-operation he has received from local businesses and individuals who are keen to see the lifeboat restored to its former glory.

He said: “A lady was looking at the openings on the side of the boat and asked why it had gun ports. I explained that these were not gun ports but scuppers, which allowed water to flow from the decks and were vital for the boat’s stability.

“The coverings for these would have been made from brass and we were having real problems in replacing them. Then local engineering company Quadmost Ltd, based at Ivyhouse Lane, said they could do the work and when I asked how much it would cost they generously said there would be no charge.

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110335001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110335001

“I have been amazed at the generosity people have shown to get this grand old lady back to her best.

Concert organisors, Mike Raxworthy, Garry Fellows and Shaun Taberer had the idea to get a special song written about the boat, then started to make a film with the song as a soundtrack.

The concert, on Friday, includes The RX Shanty Men, Acapella harmony group Now and Then, Harmony One, Jiggery Pokery (who wrote and performed the ‘Ghost’ song) and headliners, award winning festival band The Salts performing close four part harmony shanties.

Tickets are available at The Hastings Information Centre in Aquila House, or on the door, priced £10.

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110322001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110322001

Restoration work is ongoing and the aim is to have the boat on permanent display in the Old Town sometime this summer.

If you would like to support the project donations can be made via the Treasurer at 4 All Saints Crescent, Hastings TN35 3PD or at Santander bank in Hastings - sort code 09-01-28, account number 49444310. There are also collecting boxes around the Old Town.

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Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110245001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110245001

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Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110418001

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Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110404001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110437001

Ghost of Dunkirk filming SUS-170117-110437001