A 137-year-old historic lifeboat rescued from the rafters of an old farm shed is now restored and in need of a public home.

The lifeboat, which had hung in the rafters of the shed for decades, was from the Maid of Lincoln which was wrecked and sank off Jurien Bay in west-central Western Australia in 1891.

He caught the attention of archaeologist Bob Sheppard who organized his rescue in March last year.

Once it was safely removed from the rafters, Jurien Bay resident Ron Snook set about lovingly restoring it.

Now that the job is done, the lifeboat needs a home.

Ian McCann examining the lifeboat before its rescue in March last year. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Samille Mitchell)

Wreckage and escape

The Maid of Lincoln was carrying guano from the Abrolhos Islands when it was wrecked off Hill River, about 220 kilometers from Perth.

The captain, five or six crew and a stowaway escaped from their sinking ship in the 3.6 meter long lifeboat.

Upon reaching shore, the crew walked to a nearby farm where the Grigson family helped organize their rescue.

The captain gave the lifeboat to the Grigsons as a thank you.

They used the boat to fish for several years before wood rot set in and relegated it to the rafters of their hay shed where it hung, largely forgotten, for perhaps 70 years.

Restored artifact

After a team of volunteers salvaged the lifeboat, former fisherman Mr Snook consulted with restoration experts before embarking on restoring the historic artifact.

The bow of a historic lifeboat with a spool of rope on the front.
The bow of the Maid of Lincoln lifeboat after its restoration.(ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Samille Mitchell)

As a former fisherman, he had worked on wooden boats himself and had also been involved in the construction of the replica Duyfken Dutch East Indies sailboat.

It took days to clean up decades of accumulated dust and cobwebs before the real work began.

“The white ants jumped from the beam into the boat and chewed on wood.

“But that was the only major structural thing I had to do.

“The rest blocked the holes and made the boards more secure with epoxy resin.”

An old man bent over an old boat painting it, in a shed.
Ron Snook has lovingly restored the historic lifeboat to its stern shelter. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Samille Mitchell)

Looking for a home

When donating the lifeboat, the Grigson family insisted that the boat remain in Jurien Bay.

But with no dedicated museum and no one raising a hand to house it, its fans are looking for a public establishment.

They had hoped to display it in a museum planned for a yet-to-be-built RSL facility that recently received funding for construction.

But, as construction costs have skyrocketed since the grant application was made, the RSL building has stalled.

“They’re still short on money, so they’ll have to apply for another grant,” Snook said.

“And I hope it won’t take another three years to [receive the funding] if not, it will be in my cabin for the next three years.”

An elderly man in a shed with his hands resting on the corner of an old boat.
Mr. Snook enjoyed restoring the historic lifeboat to its former glory. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Samille Mitchell)

Archaeologist Bob Sheppard said the boat has the potential to be a major attraction in the township.

“It’s a very, very special gift to the community.”