150 year Anniversary celebration for RNLI New Brighton lifeboat station

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Author: Bob Warwick

New Brighton lifeboat station celebrates the anniversary of its founding and subsequent impressive 150 year history with many notable rescues and the saving of 1235 lives by its volunteers to its credit.

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On the 24th January 1863 a brand new lifeboat named ‘Rescue’ funded by the RNLI, 42 foot long and built of iron with a tubular construction was inaugurated at a ceremony in Liverpool watched by a gathering of 50,000. The lifeboat was launched and showed her paces for the cheering crowds before being towed to her new station at New Brighton.

As the first event to celebrate the 150 years the volunteers of the station organised a Dinner Dance at the Leasowe Castle Hotel attended by 140 dignitaries, lifeboat and fundraising volunteers from New Brighton and Hoylake, supporters and guests.

The evening commenced by RNLI New Brighton Chairman Frank Brereton who introduced to the assembly Dame Lorna Muirhead D.B.E., Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside and Mr Ronald Muirhead, The Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral Councillor Gerry Ellis and Mrs Margaret Ellis. Following introductions he described the events of the inauguration of ‘Rescue’ 150 years before. This set the format for the evening with short excerpts from our history in between courses.

Senior helmsman Dave Lowe told the story of one of our significant rescues that of the French steamer the ‘Emile Delmas’ in the early hours the 24th November 1928. In violent seas the lifeboat crew of the the ‘William & Kate Johnston’ saved 24 lives, the lifeboat sustained damage and 2 lifeboat crew and the chief engineer of the steamer were were washed overboard. The lifeboat crew were recovered but unfortunately the chief engineer was lost. The RNLI and the French government acknowledged the bravery and skill of the lifeboat crew by the award of medals to those involved.

Senior Hovercraft Commander Graham Lowe explained that New Brighton had always been in the forefront of technical developments with the early iron lifeboat, the great innovation of the introduction off the Atlantic series of high performance inshore lifeboat boats 40 year ago and more recently our hovercraft ‘Hurley Spirit’ which is ideal for rescues on the extensive sand and mud flats in the area and compliments the work of our Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat ‘ Charles Dibdin’.

To complete the evening RNLI Council member Mr Anthony Hannay presented a Vellum to the station Lifeboat Operations Manager Graham Sale. The vellum, signed by the President of the RNLI, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, states ‘The Royal National Lifeboat Institution Gratefully Recognises 150 years Services of New Brighton Lifeboat Station from 1863 to 2013. In the great cause of life saving from disaster at sea and desires to acknowledge with warm appreciation the voluntary commitment of the local lifeboat community and the dedication and courage of the coxwains, helmsmen and crews who have never failed to maintain the proud traditions of the lifeboat service.’

Graham Sale responded to the presentation with a vote of thanks to the RNLI and the volunteers of the station and its supporters without who’s dedication we could not carry out the charities role to Save Lives at Sea.

This is the first event of the year to celebrate the 150 years of the station, St Georges School in Wallasey are having a uniform free day on Friday 25th January to raise funds for the station’s SOS day and to coincide with a visit by crew members to give advice on sea and beach safety to the pupils.

Further events are planned and details will appear in due course on the stations website www.newbrightonlifeboat.org.uk

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