Bembridge Lifeboat

From Wightpedia
Bembridge Lifeboat pier and the old boathouse
Bembridge Lifeboat 'old' Concrete Pier and Boathouse

A Lifeboat Station was established by the RNLI at Bembridge in 1867 after local fishermen in an open boat went to the aid of the Norwegian Barque 'Egbert'. The first boat was 32ft long and had 10 oars, it was housed in a boathouse built at Lane End - the lifeboat had to be transported across the shore to launch it when necessary.

A new 34 ft lifeboat, the Queen Victoria, went into service in 1888; the RNLI had decided to build a new lifeboat in honour of Queen Victoria's Jubilee and had submitted a list of 200 stations she could be stationed at - Queen Victoria choose Bembridge[1]. (This lifeboat was restored in the 1990's and is now (2020) located at the Maritime Museum at Arreton).

In 1922, a lifeboat pier was built with a boathouse at the seaward end; this housed a new motor vessel, 'Langham' which could be launched down a ramp straight into the sea. Her cost was defrayed by a legacy from the estate of Mr. T. G. Langham, of London and Leicester[2]. The pier was constructed of concrete and could be used at all states of the tide; this led to the closure of the Ryde station.

RNLB Langham - 2016 at Arreton Maritime Museum
RNLB Langham - 2016 at Arreton Maritime Museum

The 'Langham' remained in service until 1939, during which time she saved 71 lives - she was replaced by the 'Jesse Lumb'.

The 'Jesse Lumb' was a Watson-class lifeboat, 46 foot overall with twin 40 h.p. engines installed in a water-tight engine room and was constructed by J. S. White of Cowes[2]. She was provided by a legacy of Miss Annie Lumb , of Huddersfield[3] in memory of her brother. The 'Jesse Lumb' is now (2020) in the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.

In 1964, the old boathouse was brought back into use to house a new inshore lifeboat.

In 1970 the 'Jack Shayler and the Lees', a 48ft 6in, Oakley self-righting lifeboat powered by two 110 h.p. marine diesel engines, built by Groves & Guttridge at East Cowes[4] and costing an estimated £67,000 replaced the 'Jesse Lumb' on the station. The name came from the amalgamation of two legacies received by the RNLI from the estates of Miss Annie Shayler and Mr. Arthur Lees. A legacy of £20,000 from Miss Shayer has been received in 1953 with a specific allocation for a new lifeboat at the Bembridge station. Mr. Lees, a native of Oldham, left £12,500 for a lifeboat but had not specified a station[5].

The 'Jack Shayler and the Lees' remained until the £537,000, 47 foot Tyne-class lifeboat built at Fairey Marine Cowes, 'Max Aitken III' named after the father of the then Lord Beaverbrook, arrived in 1987[6].

In September 2010, the Tamar Class lifeboat 'Alfred Albert Williams' was placed at Bembridge, necessitating another rebuild of the pier and boathouse. The cost of the new lifeboat was largely met by an anonymous Oxfordshire couple, keen sailors, who requested that the lifeboat be named after their lale friend, Gosport resident and former naval chief petty officer Alfred Albert Williams[7].

Bembridge new Lifeboat pier and boathouse
Bembridge Lifeboat New Concrete Pier and Boathouse (2021)
  1. Isle of Wight County Press - 26 March 1887
  2. 2.0 2.1 Isle of Wight County Press - 27 May 1939
  3. Isle of Wight County Press - 6 May 1939
  4. Isle of Wight County Press - 27 September 1969
  5. Isle of Wight County Press - 1 February 1969.
  6. Isle of Wight County Press - 29 July 1988
  7. Isle of Wight County Press - 12 August 2011