Portsmouth Lifeboat Station
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Situated in the City of Portsmouth, England, the lifeboat station is located at Eastney Point, at the entrance to Langstone Harbour.
Portsmouth is the RNLI’s 10th busiest lifeboat station with around 100 launches a year.
The station is entirely managed and operated by volunteers. The crew are on a paging system providing standby cover 24 hours a day 365 days a year and will man the lifeboats when requested by HM Coastguard via the pagers (yes, we have been called out on Christmas Day too!).
A lifeboat station was first established in Portsmouth in 1886, located on Southsea seafront, and the fine tradition of our past lifeboatmen continues to be upheld by our present lifeboat crews at Eastney Point.
1902 lifeboat day southsea – heyland_small The RNLI’s first Lifeboat Station on Portsea Island, the ‘Southsea Lifeboat Station’, was completed in 1886, 62 years after the founding of the RNLI in 1824, after the need for an additional lifeboat in the Solent area was identified by the committees of Bembridge and Hayling Island Stations in 1884. The first of the station’s three lifeboats, ‘The Heyland’, was a ten-oared, wooden, self-righting vessel 37 feet in length and a beam of 9 feet. She served for 22 years, during which time she was launched on nine occasions saving six lives in dramatic rescues.
These were the days when boats were powered by strong arms, sheer determination and bravery! Her gallant lifeboat crews were highly regarded by those they rescued or stood by in their time of need. The exposed Southsea shore made it difficult to launch the boats in rough seas, and headwinds hampered progress of even the most hardened oarsmen.
Southsea lifeboat station was closed after thirty-two years of service because it was now considered that the Solent would be adequately served by the existing Hayling Island lifeboat and the proposed motor propelled lifeboat to be introduced at Bembridge in 1922. For the following 47 years Portsmouth lacked its own lifeboat.
1950’s and 1960’s
During the 1950’s and 1960’s there was a significant increase in the popularity of all forms of leisure pursuits on the waters of the South Coast and a corresponding increase in calls for assistance by the amateur sailor. At this period very few RNLI lifeboats exceeded 9 knots and they required a crew of 7 to 8 people to man them and a team of launchers.
The RNLI introduced its first inflatable rescue-boats, the ‘D’ Class, which required a crew of two and a light-weight launching trolley. They were propelled by a single 40hp engine that gave them a speed of 20 knots. The success of this revolutionary and altogether more effective inshore lifeboat, and its derivatives, led to the establishment of many new inshore lifeboat stations.
An inshore lifeboat station was established at Eastney Point, at the entrance to Langstone Harbour. The new station was supplied with its first D Class, ‘No. 48‘, and in May that year Dr McLachlan, who had campaigned for the reintroduction of a lifeboat station at Portsmouth, was appointed its Honorary Secretary.
li8495aerial view of portsmout On 27 October, 1991 the present building, built to accommodate a ‘D’ class and an Atlantic 21 lifeboat, was officially opened by Rear Admiral Wilfred Graham, an ex-director of the RNLI. The £90,000 building was funded by a special appeal started in the 1980’s by the then Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Alderman Wyn Sutcliffe.
The name of the station was changed to ‘Portsmouth Lifeboat Station‘ on 1 September, 1995.
An extension to the boathouse was completed, providing a separate crew changing room, improved toilet facilities, a mechanics store, fuel storage bunker, and an operations control room.
The fine tradition of our past lifeboatmen continues to be upheld by our present lifeboat crews.