Lifeboat History

Lifeboat History illustrated

The Age of Pulling and Sailing Lifeboat History Part 1 of 3 Introduction 75 full illustrated, over 200 images.
(The Age of Steam, Petrol & Diesel Part 2, The Age of Air Sea Rescue Part 3 coming soon).

The islands of Britain and Ireland have always been at the mercy of the sea. In the early 19th century, there was an average of 1,800 shipwrecks a year around our coasts, and this danger was an accepted part of life onboard. Coastal communities often watched helplessly as vessels foundered.
Rescue services did exist in some places – there are records of a rescue boat stationed in Liverpool from 1730.
In Bamburgh, Northumberland, men from the local castle patrolled the shore on horseback, ready to go to sea in their ‘unimmergible’ coble – the first purpose-built lifeboat, designed by Lionel Lukin and patented in 1785.
A 1789 competition, run by a group of businessmen from Tyne and Wear, sought designs for rescue boats.
One of the entries, from William Wouldhave, was designed to selfright.
Boatbuilder Henry Greathead was asked to build a lifeboat combining the best features of Lukin’s and Wouldhave’s designs, and came up with a vessel called the Original.
Within 20 years, he had built more than 30 of these lifeboats, and they were saving lives around the UK and its islands, from St Andrews to St Peter Port.

Sir William Hillary is credited with founding the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, later renamed the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
After witnessing the destruction of dozens of ships from his home on the Isle of Man, and getting involved in rescue attempts himself, Hillary appealed to the Navy.
The government and other ‘eminent characters’ for help in forming ‘a national institution for the preservation of lives and property from shipwreck’.
With the support of London MP Thomas Wilson and West India Merchants Chairman George Hibbert, the Institution was founded as a charity on 4 March 1824.
The name was changed to RNLI in 1854. The RNLI rewards rescues of special merit with Medals for Gallantry in Bronze, Silver or Gold.
In 1824, Navy Captain Charles Fremantle was awarded the Institution’s first Gold Medal for his attempts to rescue the crew of the Carl Jean off the Hampshire coast.
The youngest medallist was Frederick Carter who was awarded a Silver Medal at the age of 11 for his part in an 1890 rescue in Dorset.
He and another boy, 16-year-old Frank Perry, rowed through heavy surf to save two men whose boat had capsized. Frank was also awarded a Silver Medal.

Many original antique prints illustrating Coastguard History, Dennett’s Rockets, Hale & Congreve Rockets, Manby’s Mortar 1809-1830, called a Lyle Gun in America.
From 1806 to the present day a Civilian Sea Rescue, with Air Sea Rescue from 1941, Volunteer Life Brigades, Breeches Buoys Rescues & Practice.
George Palmer designed a purpose-built Lifeboat in 1828. William Plenty’s Lifeboat 1817-29. James Beeching Lifeboats used Worldwide.
In 1849-50 only 96 Lifeboats with 681 vessels and 111 being wrecked in one Month of March.
James Peake master shipwright of Woolwich Dockyard designed the 1st Self-Righting Lifeboat.
Henry Richardson designed the 1st Tubular Lifeboat 1851 still using the basic design in 1891.
Today the Tubular Design is our Modern Inflatable for inshore rescue, we see worldwide.

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