Little Ship Lady Cable in Paignton garden 'an absolute tragedy'

Lady Cable
Image caption The Lady Cable has been laid up in the back garden of trustee Charmaine Foreman since 2017

A Little Ship that saved hundreds of Allied soldiers in World War Two is still in a back garden, five years after plans to save it were scuppered.

Plans to restore the Lady Cable, one of hundreds drafted in to save soldiers from Dunkirk, fell through in 2015.

Trustee Charmaine Foreman said the situation was frustrating but the ship was "safe and where she belongs".

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships said the "missed opportunity" was an "absolute tragedy".

Image caption Plans to restore the Lady Cable were scuppered when trustees said she should remain in Torbay

The Lady Cable, which rescued 630 soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940, was rescued by the Turning Point Trust after sinking in Torbay harbour in 2003.

It was stored at a boatyard in Totnes, Devon, when a row erupted over its future and is now resting on a number of containers in the back garden of Ms Foreman, whose late father Peter bought it in 2003.

Lady Cable timeline

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lady Cable was one of about 800 vessels that saved thousands of Allied troops
  • 1923: Built in Teignmouth by Morgan Giles and ferries holidaymakers around the coast off Teignmouth and Torbay
  • 1940: Sails from Torbay to Dunkirk and rescues 630 soldiers
  • Returns to pleasure boat use after war
  • 2003: Lady Cable is bought for £1 by Peter Foreman of Turning Point Trust after sinking in Torbay Harbour
  • 2009: Turning Point Trust hands the ship to Lady Cable Trust after failed attempts to get National Lottery funding to restore it
  • 2015: Lady Cable Trust announces it will take up offer to have it restored by National Maritime Museum in Falmouth
  • 2015: Restoration stalls after Turning Point says Lady Cable Trust did not have authority to remove the ship
  • 2017: Turning Point brings Lady Cable to Charmaine Foreman's back garden in Paignton

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships said it was an "absolute tragedy if there was an opportunity to restore her that was not taken advantage of".

Spokesman Jason Carley said: "These are the last remaining sign and memory of what occurred in Dunkirk.

"They can be restored even if they are at a fairly advanced stage of decay.

"But they are wood and the longer they are left, the higher the cost and once it is lost, that's it.

"It is a shame that it was not saved when it could have been."

Image copyright Lady Cable Trust
Image caption Tourists were taken around Torbay by Lady Cable before and after the war

Mrs Foreman said The Lady Cable's "home" was in Torbay.

"At first yes we felt we could still negotiate about her going to Falmouth, but then we thought no, she has to stay in Torquay," she said.

"That is her home ground."

She and husband Trevor have been working on plans to raise money through crowdfunding to save the ship.

They have also approached the local council with plans to turn the Lady Cable into a museum in the harbour.

Image caption Trevor and Charmaine Foreman say they still hope the Lady Cable can be restored

"It's frustrating but at least she's safe and looked after," said Mrs Foreman.

"So many of these little boats are unloved, they are in a field somewhere rotting.

"And as far as we know she is not going rotten.

"You've got to be positive about this, there's no giving up on this one."

Dunkirk evacuation

26 May to 4 June 1940


Allied troops rescued from Dunkirk in France as Germans advanced

  • 800 civilian ships dubbed the Little Ships were called in to help


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