For our March meeting members of the Brockenhurst and District Probus
Club welcomed David Richmond-Coggan,the Honorary Chairman of
Christchurch &Bournemouth Fundraising Branch for the Royal National
Lifeboat Institution, who presented a history of the RNLI with a local focus.
In the early 19th century 1800 ships were wrecked annually on the UK
coastline.The first lifeboat station was at Bamburgh Castle in 1876,where a local coble was adapted for service as a lifeboat. However,the earliest record of a boat being kept specifically for rescuing those shipwrecked was at Formby, Lancashire in 1777.
In 1823, Sir William Hillary made an impassioned appeal to the nation, calling for a service dedicated to saving lives at sea. After support from the more philanthropic members of London society, the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Lives and Property from Shipwreck was founded on 4 March 1824.
The early "pulling lifeboats"were hauled overland by locals and horses, then rowed from shore to stricken vessels. Lifeboats grew larger with built in air lockers for buoyancy and the option of sail power. In 1851 the first self righting lifeboat was launched followed by the issue of cork lifejackets for the crew.A steam powered lifeboat in 1890 was followed by petrol propulsion in 1905, and eventually diesel.The greater range gave better efficiency and resulted in the merging of many lifeboat stations. The RNLI has continued to innovate the design of lifeboats from the small inshore lifeboats to the large all weather vessels we see today.
The RNLI is based in Poole and has 238 lifeboat stations and operates 431 lifeboats manned by a largely part-time volunteer crews. The RNLI also operates, equips and trains lifeguards on more than 200 beaches in the UK.
The Poole headquarters provides lifeboat maintenance and repair facilities, the Lifeboat Support Centre and the RNLI College.
The first Poole lifeboat station was established in 1865 and required the crew to be taken by coach from the Antelope Hotel in the High Street,to Sandbanks where the lifeboat house had been built.Not surprisingly it relocated to Poole quay in 1882 and currently operates two inshore lifeboats from a floating station.There has been a lifeboat at Mudeford since 1963.Today the B class inshore lifeboat carries out 60 rescues each year. Lymington lifeboat station celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and operates an Atlantic 85 inshore boat.