LIFESAVERS in Dorset are to get a new multi-million pound base.

November will mark the start of one of the RNLI’s biggest construction projects when work begins on the new lifeboat station at Swanage.

The existing boathouse at Peveril Point will be demolished to make way for the new facility.

It will house one of the charity’s new state of the art Shannon class all weather lifeboats and serve the station for at least the next 80 years.

Both lifeboats will remain fully operational during the 18 month building project.

Christopher Refoy, RNLI Estates Construction Manager, said: “This project has its own particular characteristics, not least of which is the immensely constrained site.

“This is a huge challenge for both our contractor, BAM Nuttall, and for our volunteer crew who will maintain the lifeboat service without interruption throughout the duration of the works.”

The new boathouse will represent a £3.5 million investment, which will be met by donations from the public. More than £200,000 has been raised by local fundraisers.

Designed by Dorset-based team, consulting engineers Smith Foster and architects Morgan Design Studio Ltd, the new building will stand in the same place as the old station that was constructed in 1875. As well as housing the Shannon class lifeboat, it will co-house the station’s D Class inshore lifeboat and provide modern facilities for the crew.

Mr Refoy added: “Before building work can begin, the site for the temporary crew accommodation and contractors compound needs to be prepared.

“In November, work will begin in Swanage Boat Park to install the accommodation units that the lifeboat crew will use as temporary facilities, along with the contractors accommodation and a unit to temporarily house Swanage Angling Club.

“The lifeboat station will become operational from its temporary accommodation in December, and demolition of the current lifeboat station will start in January.”

Neil Hardy, Swanage RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “The demands on the coxswain and volunteer crew are going to be enormous and I thank them in advance for their patience and goodwill.

“But we will come out of the project with a superb new lifeboat station.”

Because of the need for space for the temporary facilities, Swanage Boat Park will be closed from the end of October 2014 to spring 2016. The public slipway will remain open subject to the on-going construction work. Periods of closure will be posted in advance via