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Shipdham firm's iconic island contract

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 15:54 07 July 2010

Rob Garratt

A mid-Norfolk firm is nearing the completion of a £7.6m overhaul of a lifeboat station on the Isle of Wight.

Nuttall John Martin, a civil engineering contractor based in Shipdham, has built up a niche specialism in the reconstructions of RNLI bases up and down the country.

A mid-Norfolk firm is nearing the completion of a £7.6m overhaul of a lifeboat station on the Isle of Wight.

Nuttall John Martin, a civil engineering contractor based in Shipdham, has built up a niche specialism in the reconstructions of RNLI bases up and down the country.

The company's latest coup has seen them craft a state of the art of the facility at Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight.

The 18-month contract, which has brought around 15 employees from mid-Norfolk to the tourist island, is the most recent in a long line of lifeboat station projects the firm has tackled.

And the company have already secured a second contact on the island reconstructing the base of the memorable lighthouse at the island's iconic natural phenomenon, the Needles.

Work started in Bembridge in February last year, and is expected to finish this August. Thanks to the location of an underwater rock reef, the Bembridge Ledge, the boathouse is located 200m off from the shore.

The project sees the firm replacing the original, aging station, which dates back around 50 years, with a high-tech facility capable of housing the RNLI's latest class of offshore rescue boat, the Tamar.

Project agent Lloyd Wickens said: “As you can imagine, we are on one of the busiest sections of water in the world with ships going in and out of Portsmouth and Southampton as well as the area being incredibly popular with leisure craft. It is quite an important station.”

The company, which employees around 150 staff in total with 80pc based in mid-Norfolk, has an annual turnover of £38m and survived the recession without making a single redundancy.

The firm is known nationally for their limpet dam, a large steal platform which allows engineers to work underwater thanks to a patented seal, which works by maintaining pressure.

Other projects have seen the company overhaul lifeboat bases stations in Tenby in Wales, the Isle of Man, stations in Padstow and Sennen Cove in Cornwall and Brixham in Devon.

Closer to home the company oversaw an overhaul of Cromer life boat station and the recently constructed East Port Outer Harbour in Great Yarmouth.

“Rather than putting contracts out for competitive tender the RNLI get us involved very early which allows us to drive down costs,” said submissions manager Malcolm McAllister.

“We have a lot of specialist maritime engineering knowledge and it is a part of the industry we thrive in and know. There are lots of contractors that can go out and build roads, but we know all the risks of working underwater. ”

This month the company mobilised to start work on the reconstruction of the £8m lifeboat station on the most southerly point on mainland England, The Lizard in Cornwall. Two more RNLI projects have been secured further afield in Pwllheli, Wales and Baltimore in Ireland.

Framework manager Richard Hayman said: “We have had a very good relationship with the RNLI since 2001 which has enabled us to construct very prestigious projects on the UK shorelines.”


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