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What am I commemorating today?

January 30, 2014

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Today is Lifeboat Day – the day the first purpose-built lifeboat was launched in England on the River Tyne.  More below from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

1790: The first shore-based boat designed specifically for use as a lifeboat is tested on the River Tyne in northern England.

Christened the Original, she was a 30-foot-long, double-ended, 10-oar longboat built by Henry Greathead of South Shields. She carried 7 hundredweight (784 pounds or 356 kilograms) of cork for added buoyancy and was designed to be self-righting.

Although smaller craft had been pressed into service as lifeboats in the past, Original was the first boat built specifically for sea rescue. She was stationed at the mouth of the Tyne and launched from a shore station. In a career spanning 40 years, she was responsible for saving hundreds of lives.

By 1839, there were 30 lifeboat shore stations operating in the British Isles.

Original was built as the result of an incident in 1789, when a crew was lost after its ship ran aground in stormy seas off the mouth of the river. Although the eight men were in sight of the shore, no one could be persuaded to attempt a rescue that was viewed as suicidal.

Local businessmen upset by the tragedy offered a prize to anyone who could design a true rescue boat. A local parish clerk named William Wouldhave was the winner, and Greathead built Original using Wouldhave’s design.

The first lifeboat association, Britain’s National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck (later renamed the Royal National Lifeboat Institution), was organized in 1824. By 1860, the RNLI could claim to have saved more than 12,000 lives at sea.

Shipboard lifeboats — carried on davits aboard larger ships and generally associated with this type of craft — did not appear until later in the 19th century.

(Source: Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI)

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A British postage stamp was issued in 1974 to mark the 150th anniversary of the RNLI. This depiction of the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Lightship by the Ballycotton lifeboat Mary Stanford was chosen as the image to be represented on that postage stamp.  (source-Wiki)

This is a reposting, but I think it bears the repetition.

Raise a glass to the members of the Lifeboat Service.

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4 comments

  1. and think we just take life boats for granted… here’s a place you might like http://www.nps.gov/safr/index.htm the SF maritime museum.


    • Carol, what a great place! I want to go there. Thank you for the link and the wonderful idea!


  2. Very nice. Did I mention that I like boats? 🙂


    • Thanks. Me, too.



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