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Newport Jolly Boat in jolly good condition

Following an enquiry from Newport West MP Paul Flynn about the condition of the Jolly Boat currently displayed in the Imperial War Museum, the Director of Collections has given an assurance that it is still in good condition.

Paul Flynn said following a recent visit:

“I was concerned to see that there appear to be signs that the boat may be drying out and showing signs of distress as a result. It had the appearance of a boat which might be in the process of “breaking up”. I sought assurances from the Museum. I presume now that the problems observed are the result of previous drying out that occurred some years ago. It is the hope of many Newportonians that the boat might be on display in Newport at some time in the future and it is good to know that its condition is being properly monitored.”


SS Anglo Saxon

On 6 August 1940 the merchant ship SS Anglo Saxon took on a fresh crew and left Newport, Wales, carrying a cargo of coal to Bahia Blanca, Argentina. The Anglo Saxon (5,596 tons) was one of four ships owned by the Nitrate Producers Steamship Company. Her new crew numbered 41 officers and men, and she was armed with one deck gun. On 7 August she called at Milford Haven, and on 8 August joined the outward-bound Liverpool Convoy OB 195.

Anglo Saxon's jolly boat was 18 feet long and its maximum beam was 6.5 feet. A jolly boat, smaller than a cutter, was a clinker-built ship's boat that was used chiefly as a hack boat for small work. In this instance it also functioned as a lifeboat.

Thanks to the commitment of the members of the Newport SS Anglo Saxon Jolly Boat Association, especially their Secretary , Bert Bale, who did so much to keep the return a live issue in the media; and the Association's Presidents, first Mrs Norma Tapscott, the widow of one of the two survivors, who has been indefatigable in her efforts to ensure the appropriate display of the boat and who was succeeded by the author Leslie Thomas, whose strong interest in the Second World War ensured his support pressue was contoniued to bring hte boat ack to the UK. This was helped by the desire of the Imperial War Museum to ensure the Jolly Boat came home.

Three museums, besides the IWM, had been suggested as a suitable place for the display of the jolly boat: Newport County Borough Council's Museum and Art Gallery (as the port from which the Anglo Saxon began her last voyage); Merseyside Maritime Museum, with its fine exhibition on the Battle of the Atlantic; and the Welsh Industrial & Maritime Museum. When the jolly boat became a practicable possibility, all three museums gave their support to the IWM's proposal, which considerably assisted its case.

The jolly boat was returned to the UK in the container ship Sea-Land Atlantic and landed at Felixstowe on 15 November 1997. After conservation the jolly boat was put on display in May 1998 as the central exhibit of 'Survival at Sea: stories of the Merchant Navy in the Second World War'."

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