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Appledore's station history


Thirty medals have been awarded, 23 Silver - seven Bronze, the last medal being voted in 2005.


The Spanish Society for Saving the Shipwrecked awarded a Silver Medal to the Appledore coxswain and diplomas to each of the crew for their assistance to the steamer Monte Gurugu on 13 November 1949.

Its early history is uncertain but at one time there were three lifeboat stations, one known as Braunton.  One of the three stations was closed in 1897 and another in 1919.  The station was taken over by the Institution in 1855.


Silver Medals awarded to Owen Smith, William Brinksmead and Philip Guy, for rescuing 11 passengers and the crew of the Bristol packet Daniel which went aground on the South Tail in Bideford Bay in a severe north-west gale on 11 September 1829.


North Devon Humane Society formed.


Number two lifeboat capsized with the loss of three of her crew whilst on service to Brig Mary Ann.  They were S Blackmore, J Peake and B  Pile.  The rest of the crew were rescued by the number one lifeboat.  Committee of Management voted £25 to local fund.

Silver Medal awarded to Captain W Chappell for the rescue in the number two lifeboat of the crew of eight of the ship Delabole stranded on Saunton Sands in Bideford Bay in a strong northerly gale on 6 March 1833.



Silver Medals awarded to Mr J Tuckfield, Mr J Chappell and Mr H Popham for their endeavours to rescue the crew of the brig Mary Ann that sunk on Northam Sands on 24 November 1833.  The Bideford lifeboat Assistance was launched and after searching the wreck, thought it to be deserted, later a movement in the rigging led the lifeboat to be launched again with a second crew, but while lying-to alongside the wreck the lifeboat was overturned by a big breaker and three of her crew were trapped, two being drowned.  The second lifeboat Volunteer launched and saved four men who had scrambled back on the upturned boat.  The crew of the brig were all lost.

Silver Medal awarded to Thomas Burnard for a service to the ship Elizabeth that went aground on Northam Sands in a violent storm on 17 December 1833.  Mr Burnham was first on board one of the two Bideford lifeboats that after launching had a strenuous pull through the surf.  One boat took off ten survivors the other rescued eight.


Silver Medal awarded to Mr Thomas Day for the rescue by lifeboat of the crew of six of the Schooner Henrietta wrecked off Bideford on 29 November 1836.


Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to Thomas Burnard on his retirement for services rendered.


Silver Medal awarded to Captain Joshua Williams for the rescue by lifeboat of the crew of the barque Ness that was wrecked near Bideford in heavy weather on 24 December 1845.


Silver Medal awarded to Captain John Marshall and Silver Second-Service Clasp to Captain Joshua Williams for the rescue of four men from the wreck of the Brig Dasher of St Ives just before she broke up on 23 March 1850.  One man of the Dasher’s crew died in the rigging from exhaustion and the other four men were rescued only just in time to save them from the same fate.


North Devon Human Society taken over by the Institution.  During the period of 24 years, their lifeboats were instrumental in saving 107 lives.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Joseph Cox (Snr), in testimony of his long and gallant service in the lifeboats in assisting to rescue shipwrecked crews.


A lifeboat house erected at a cost of £34 at Braunton.


Silver Medal awarded Captain Thomas Jones for the rescue of nine men from the Sloop Wool Packet wrecked on Bideford Bar in a heavy westerly gale on 21 September 1866.


Mr David Johns drowned when trying to save others on the barque Leopard when he swam with a rope and tried to board her.


Silver Medals awarded to Coxswain Joseph Cox Snr (Second, Third Clasp), Second Coxswain Joseph Cox Jnr and crew member J Kelly. for a service on 28 December 1868 to the Austrian barque Pace which had run aground and for rescuing nine crew just before a tremendous sea struck the lifeboat and drove her under the barques counter.  The lifeboat returned damaged and rudderless and with the coxswain injured.  The coxswain at once called for a second crew and although the boat was damaged, put out again.  The lifeboat was capsized near the wreck and all the crew flung into the surf.  She righted herself, all managed to get aboard and she returned to the shore with only three oars.  A third crew came forward at once and a horseman dashed off for spare oars.  By now however, the tide had turned and had already dropped two feet, it would soon be possible to reach the wreck by wading. “…those on the spot most rightly interfered and would not allow the boat to be launched again although there were four distinct crews of volunteers.” The emperor of Austria awarded the three men the Silver Cross of Merit and made awards to others involved in the rescue.

On the same day crew member Coastguard David Johns swam out with a rope to the barque Leopard which had been driven ashore near Westward Ho!  Whilst attempting to board her he was struck by a piece of wreckage and drowned.  Earlier that day he had crewed the lifeboat during her first launch to the Austrian Barque Pace (details above).  Committee of Management voted £20 to a local fund for his widow.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain James Smallridge for the rescue of the crew of seven of the Brig Nigretta that had stranded on Braunton Sands in a strong gale on 5 November 1871.


A cart was supplied to take crew across the Northam Burrows to the lifeboat as they normally arrived in a half exhausted state and unfit to man the lifeboat.


The lifeboat house erected in 1862 was, owing to the accumulation of sand in front of it, rebuilt on another site.


Lifeboat house and slipway erected at Badsteps and a roadway excavated through rocky foreshore at a cost of £800.


Gas service provided.


Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to J H Smallridge on his retirement as coxswain of the Braunton lifeboat.

Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to Joseph Cox Jnr, who had been coxswain of the Appledore lifeboats for 23 years.


New lifeboat house and slipway constructed (Braunton) at a cost of £760.


Braunton station was taken over by Appledore No 3.


Whilst proceeding on service on 6 December to the Brig Carrick of St Johns, the lifeboat capsized, fortunately without loss of life.


No 1 station closed and No 2 station renumbered No 1.


Acetylene beach light supplied.

No 2 lifeboat capsized on exercise without loss of life.


Decided that the old lifeboat house on Northam Burrows be pulled down.


It was reported that the sand had drifted so as to nearly cover the stables.


Station temporarily closed owing to difficulty in obtaining horses and horsemen.


No 3 station closed.


The original No 2 lifeboat house (renumbered in 1897 to No 1) sold for £25.  Approved scheme for adaptation of station for motor lifeboat at a cost of £7,500.


Station was provided with a motor lifeboat.


Centenary Vellum awarded to station.


Bronze Medal awarded to Second Coxswain G H E Pow, when he took command of the lifeboat in the coxswain’s absence and went out in a gale with a very heavy sea, to assist the fishing vessel Lee Bay of Ilfracombe in difficulties at the north end of Bideford Bay on the evening of 11 January 1935.  The tide was low and the seas so heavy that the lifeboat actually touched as she crossed the bar but she got safely across and coming alongside the coxswain veered down twice in the darkness and a disabled man was lifted on board, the other two men jumping to safety.  Shortly afterwards the fishing boat dragged was smashed to pieces on the cliffs.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for the rescue of the crew of seven of a concrete harbour unit that had broken from her tow some 10 miles off Morte Point on 18 October 1944.  This was a very fine service carried out in a west-south-west gale and a very rough sea and the coxswain deserved great praise for the way he navigated the lifeboat, having been given three different positions.


Bronze Second-Service Clasp to Coxswain Sidney Cann for a service to the Spanish steamer Monte Gurugu which sank south of Lundy Island in a full north-westerly gale and tremendous seas on 12 November 1949.  Ilfracombe and Clovelly lifeboats also took part in this service.  This was a long, arduous, and gallant service in tempestuous weather conditions.  Twenty-four lives were rescued by the lifeboats but 13 of the Monte Gurugu’s crew perished.


Robert Cann, aged 10, a grand nephew of Coxswain Sidney Cann, was granted a wrist watch for rescuing two boys in a shore boat incident on 16 August.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for the service to the Polish ship Gilwice on 13 November.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for a service to the RFA Tanker Green Ranger which broke loose from a tow off Hartland Point on 17/18 November 1962 in a northerly Force 9 Strong Gale and a very rough sea.


Bronze Medal awarded to Second Coxswain John Richard Bowden for rescuing the crew of four of the yacht Volunteer which stranded near the entrance to the River Taw on 11/9/1964.


On 1 January the lifeboat conveyed two doctors to Lundy Island to a woman who was seriously ill.  There was a westerly gale gusting to hurricane force with a rough sea but the two doctors could not be landed.  They were put ashore using the South Lighthouse stores hoist and both doctors showed courage and determination.  Their efforts were reported to the British Medical Association who recognised their efforts by entering the names of Dr Brook and Dr Ruddock in the Book of Valour of the British Medical Association.  The coxswain and crew were each awarded an additional monetary award.


On 10 January the lifeboat conveyed a doctor to the motor vessel Manchester Merit 40 miles south west of the Smalls lighthouse to attend an injured seaman.  The doctor had much difficulty in climbing the Jacob’s ladder to board the vessel due to a 15 feet rise and fall of the sea.  At one time a lifeboat crew member, J Pavitt, saved the doctor from being crushed.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to Dr D F Valentine and crew member J Pavitt.


Atlantic 21 class lifeboat sent to station.


A celebration 150th Anniversary Vellum awarded to station.


Bronze Medal awarded to Helmsman J Pavitt in recognition of the courage, determination and seamanship displayed by him when rescuing a board sailor and his board three cables to the south of Asp Rock in a strong southerly gale and very rough seas on 1 December 1985.


The new Tyne class lifeboat ON1140 George Gibson was place on service June 1988.  This lifeboat was provided by the generous gift of Mr George C Gibson OBE through the Gibson Charitable Trust.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Michael Bowden in recognition of his fine seamanship, leadership, skill and meritorious conduct when assisting in the rescue of crew of the fishing vessel Torridge Warrior, which suffered engine failure in the vicinity of Bideford Bar Buoy in a strong gale and very steep seas on 31 March 1994.


New Atlantic 75 lifeboat B742 Douglas Paley was placed on service on 11 December.


Temporary facilities in place to enable new boathouse to be built.  New boathouse and slip scheduled for completion early 2001.


Bronze Medal awarded to Helmsman Gary Stanbury in recognition of his courage, determination and leadership when the B class inshore lifeboat saved three men from the power boat Kasam, which was in difficulties in Bideford Bar on the evening of 22 January 2005.  The rescue took place in darkness amongst large unpredictable breaking waves caused by the wind over tide conditions.  The Walter and Elizabeth Groombridge Award for 2005 was made for this service.


At the Trustee Committee meeting on 1 April 2009 following recommendations of the visit on 17 September 2008 by the Coast Review delegation, it was resolved that a Tamar class lifeboat, currently in build, be allocated to Appledore Lifeboat Station.


The new Tamar class lifeboat ON1296 Mollie Hunt was placed on service on 29 March. Lifeboat ON1140 has been withdrawn. This lifeboat was funded by the generous legacy of Mrs Evelyn Mary Hunt together with other bequests and gifts.


New Atlantic 85 lifeboat, B861 Glanely was placed on service 9 July 2012. The lifeboat was provided by the generous gift of Mr Simon Gibson CBE DL who is the son and Trustee of the GC Gibson Charitable Trust that provided the funding for the Tyne class lifeboat ON1140 George Gibson in 1988. Lifeboat B742 Douglas Paley has been withdrawn.