The owner of a wartime search and rescue boat is making an urgent appeal to help save the WWII vessel, after it sank in the River Witham, Lincolnshire on 3 April.
David Bradford, of The Ermine, discovered that The Framer was sinking at Kirkstead Bridge near Woodhall Spa when he saw a photo of his boat on social media.

Both Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and the Nottingham-based National Fire Service and Auxiliary Fire Service tried to pump water from the Second World War vessel, but to no avail.  Volunteers used a Green Goddess pump and a 1930s Beresford Stork pump in an attempt to save the boat.

Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo, David Moore from the National Fire Service and Auxiliary Fire Service said the group had only managed to pump out an inch of water.

“We saw the boat was in trouble and we thought we had a chance of helping,” he says. “It must be a substantial hole. The pumps are able to move two tonnes of water but we could not even start to move it. There must be a big window open or a big hole under the boat. By the time the pump stopped we had reached equilibrium again. It needs diver support to go under the water.”

Bradford says he is “devastated” that “seven years of hard work (has) gone”.

“It was having engine trouble and I knew it needed work doing to it,” he says.

“Our vision was to use it as a floating museum from Boston to Lincoln and up to the Trent.

“It was due to be part of the river and railway heritage attraction on the Brayford next year,” he adds.

Bradford launched an appeal in 2013 to restore the 1937 Framer to its former glory. He bought it in 2012 without realising its importance and it is now registered with the National Historic Ships Association. The former Naval patrol boat was built by James Taylor and Bates Ltd in Chertsey as a gentleman’s river cruiser.

Bradford believes The Framer was used by MI5 to transport agents to meetings and to submarines.

“I’m not trying to save it for myself – it is for the history of the boat and to pass on knowledge about it. It is important it is saved,” adds Bradford.