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Cullercoats' station history

WAR RECORD 1939-1945

Launches on service – 15.  Lives rescued 95.

85 of the lives were from: -

23 November 1940 Minesweeper New Comet 20 lives rescued.

1 December 1940 Motor vessel Oslo Fjord of Oslo 40 lives rescued.

1 December 1940 SS British Officer of London 25 lives rescued.


Three Silver Medals have been awarded, the last being voted in 1898.  The silver Medal awarded in 1827 was stolen and re-issued in 1833.


Silver Medal awarded to Alexander Donkin when he rescue the master of the sloop James that was wrecked on shore near Cullercoats at 2100 in a heavy gale on 7 March 1827.  A boat manned by nine fishermen made two unsuccessful attempted to reach the wreck so Mr Donkin plunged in amongst the breakers and swam until he reached a rock some 40 yards from the wreck where he was able then, after much difficulty to save the master who had jumped off the wreck.  The two men were then taken off the rock by the nine men in the local boat that had been pulled over the rocks to launch from a new site.  The Medal for this service was stolen and re-issued as a new Medal in 1833.


A coble with seven local men going to put a pilot on ship bound for South Shields capsized and all drowned. As a result of this tragedy, the Duke of Northumberland made funds available to open a lifeboat station.


The station received its first lifeboat, a 30ft SR Peake class boat named Percy along with a newly designed launching carriage.


Medal awarded to Coxswain John Redford for a service on 26 February 1852, when a fishing boat endeavouring to enter Cullercoats Haven during a heavy gale, was dashed against the rocks and two out of three people drowned.  The third, a young boy, who had succeeded in retaining his hold of a rock was rescued by Coxswain Redford, who jumped into the surf with a rope and swam to his assistance enabling the boy to be hauled to safety.


A new 32ft Peake class lifeboat, also named Percy and built at a cost of £174 was placed on service including a new launching carriage, the previous boat being retired due to dry rot.


A new boathouse was built to accommodate the new lifeboat, a 33ft SR boat Palmerston, built at a cost of £275 along with a new launching carriage which was placed on service in February.


A new 37ft SR lifeboat Co-operative No 1 ON5, built at a cost of £388, again with a new launching carriage, was placed on service.


Co-operative Union, the donors of the lifeboat, raised local funds for a new lifeboat house and slipway.


System of enrolled crews abolished and all the fishermen between 21-55 who were considered suitable were enrolled.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Andrew Taylor on his retirement in recognition of his service in saving lives at sea.


A new 37ft SR lifeboat, also named Co-operative No 1 ON571, built at a cost of £879, was placed on service.


A new 35ft 6in Liverpool class lifeboat Richard Silver Oliver ON794, built at a cost of £3,685, was placed on service.


On 22 April, when the lifeboat was out on an exercise, launch in a moderate north east gale, the coxswain George Brunton, a most experienced seaman, took her close to Sharpness Point where there is a strong tide-rip and a confused backwash from the rocks and from Tynemouth Pier.  In that weather there was nothing to make the place exceptionally dangerous for the lifeboat, but the lifeboat was caught by a combination of several seas which built themselves up into a single sea of exceptional size, so suddenly and so near the lifeboat, that the coxswain had no time to luff up to meet it.  It struck the lifeboat on her beam and threw her right over.  Of the 10 people on board, four managed to struggle ashore but the other six, including the coxswain and the honorary secretary, were drowned.  Their names were J Leonard Abel, J Redford Armstrong, Kenneth L Biggar, Lt Cmdr Lionel E R Blakeney-Booth, George Brunton and John Heddon Scott.

The station was temporarily closed after this tragedy as the crew refused to use a non self-righting boat.


The station received a 35ft 6in motorised self-righting lifeboat, Westmorland ON727, previously on service at Berwick.


On 27 November the body of a man was seen in the sea.  Lifeboat grounded at bottom of slipway and three men were washed off breakwater trying to get afloat.  Raymond Oliver aged 18 youngest member of the lifeboat crew jumped overboard and though spraining his ankle brought the men ashore with the assistance of his uncle.  He then returned to the lifeboat.

On 30 May the lifeboat returned ashore after an engine trial and was being replaced on her carriage when she slipped back severely injuring a helper, Mr Thomas Stewart, aged 66.  As a result of this his leg was amputated and he died.  His widow was granted a pension.


A new 36ft 6in Liverpool class lifeboat Isaac and Mary Bolton ON880, built at a cost of £12,548, was placed on service 


A Centenary Vellum awarded.


A new Oakley class lifeboat Sir James Knott ON975, built at a cost of £33,000, was placed on service along with a new Case 1000 tractor, T71.


D class lifeboat D-50 sent to station in May.


ILB D-50 withdrawn and replaced by D-87.


The off-shore lifeboat station was closed and the Sir James Knott ON 975 transferred to the Relief fleet on 4 May.

A new ILB D-100 was placed on service and D-87 transferred to the Relief fleet.


A new ILB D-229 was placed on service and D-100 transferred to the Relief fleet.


D class lifeboat D-229 withdrawn and replaced with a C class D-512, later renumbered C-512, on 12 June, the station now becoming an “all year” station.


C class lifeboat C-512 withdrawn from station on 9 April and replaced by Atlantic 21 class lifeboat B-514 Guide Friendship 1 along with a new Talus tractor TW18H.


A new Atlantic 21 class ILB B-591 Edmund and Joan White, was placed on service and B-514 was transferred to the Relief fleet.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman Brian Gould in recognition of his seamanship and leadership when the lifeboat rescued five people from a speedboat which had capsized in breaking seas, in a Force 5 Fresh Breeze and heavy surf approximately 400 yards off Tynemouth beach north of Sharpness Point on 8 April.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman Robert Oliver in recognition of his courage, seamanship and leadership.  Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was accorded to crew members Mark Charlton and David Pendlington in recognition of the service to rescue a lifeguard trapped on a rocky ledge in a rising tide at the base of a 60ft cliff in a Force 7 Near Gale and 5m breaking seas and stood by while personnel from Caird Industrial Services and Northumbrian Water effected a cliff rescue on the afternoon of 29 August.


The Walter and Elizabeth Groombridge Award for the most meritorious service performed by an Atlantic 21 class lifeboat during 1996 was awarded to Helmsman Robert Oliver for the service on 29 August detailed above.


On 28 November 2001 the Committee of Management voted the award of Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum to Cullercoats to commemorate the completion of 150 years as a lifeboat station in 2002.


A boathouse extension completed at a cost of £354,575.


A boathouse extension to accommodate FIB1 was completed ion 7 February at a cost of £125,000.

The new class of lifeboat, the Atlantic 85, B-811 Hylton Burdon was placed on service on Tuesday 9 January.  This lifeboat was provided by the generous bequest of Mr Hylton Burdon.  Lifeboat B-591 has been withdrawn.


Framed Letters of Thanks were awarded to crew members Robert Oliver, Peter Clark, Graham Wood and Gary Hawksford for a service to rescue a man being washed up and down a sea wall at Whitely Bay in a four to five metre sea swell.


An Exceptional First Aid Certificate was awarded to crew members Ross Dun and Grahame Wood for their treatment of a seriously injured and unconscious man on 15 June 2011.  He had fallen amongst rocks in an inaccessible location and as well as his serious injuries, was at risk from the sea breaking over the rocks.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman Robert Oliver in recognition of his judgement, seamanship skill and leadership, framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution were awarded to crew members Grahame Wood and Stephen Potts in recognition of the service when the inshore lifeboat saved a boy who had been swept into the sea at Brown’s Bay, Cullercoats on the afternoon of 26 October 2011.   Access to the area was restricted by an off shore reef. Three to four metre seas reflected off the promenade wall were meeting the broken water coming over the reef.  There would only be one chance to succeed, and despite the severe risk the lifeboat recovered the boy and exited the bay through breaking seas in the narrows to the north. The boy was landed at the lifeboat station and airlifted to hospital.