There have been two stations at Douglas, the first was established in 1802 and closed in 1895. The second station established in 1874 is now the present one. The first station would appear to have lapsed about 1851 and was re-opened in 1868.
Douglas was one of the earliest places in the British Isles to be provided with a lifeboat. One was sent there in 1802. It was one of the 31 boats built by Henry Greathead, builder of the first lifeboat stationed on the mouth of the Tyne in 1789. The Douglas boat was ordered by the Duke of Atholl.
On 10 September 1824 the Institution received a request from Sir William Hillary, the founder of the Institution, for a lifeboat for Douglas “…on account of the frequent gales and wrecks in Douglas Bay”. The boat, built by Pellew Plenty of Newbury, Berkshire, was sent in October 1825. Two years later a larger boat was built by Cato of Liverpool, 29 feet long with 10 oars, and the two boats seem to have been working together.
During the years 1824 to 1851 it is reported that 91 lives were rescued by the Douglas lifeboat (not included in lives rescued figures). Sir William Hillary was awarded the Gold Medal as founder of the RNLI and won three other Gold Medals for gallantry. His son Augustus won the Silver Medal. One other Gold medal and 14 Silver medals were awarded.
Gold Medal awarded to Sir William Hillary, Bart as founder of the Institution.
Gold Medal awarded to Sir William Hillary, Bart and Silver Medals to Augustus Hillary, Lt Robson RN and to Lt Stragnell RN for the rescue of 15 people from the Swedish ship Fortroendert and five sailors on 10 December 1827.
Silver Medals awarded to George Quirke, Thomas Brine and William H Carrington for a service to the Steam Packet Earl of Roden which went aground on 7/8 December 1828.
Gold Medal awarded to Sir William Hillary, Bart in connection with the service to the sloop Eclips which went aground in Douglas Bay on 14 January 1830.
Gold Medal awarded to Sir William Hillary, Bart and Lt R Robinson RN and Silver Medals to Coxswain Isaac Vondy, and Mr William Corbett for the rescue of 22 people from the Royal Mail Steam Packet St George which was driven onto rocks on 20 November 1830.
Silver Medal awarded to Captain Edward Quayle for the rescue of the crew of three by the lifeboat of the Sloop Nanny which went aground on 19 July 1839.
Silver Medal awarded to William Cain for the rescue of the crew of four from a sloop which went aground on 16 September 1840.
Silver Medal Second-Service clasp awarded to Captain Edward Quayle and Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Thomas Cannell for the rescue of the crew of four from the smack New Volunteer on 6 February 1841.
It was decided that a coxswain should be appointed who would take charge of both lifeboats.
Coxswain T Freet died after a short illness attributed to a severe cold caught whilst waiting on the pier on a stormy night in anticipation that the services of the lifeboat would be required.
The No 2 lifeboat with a crew of 13 capsized after having rescued 14 men and two women from the Barge Lebu of Liverpool in a heavy gale. Unfortunately in the darkness four members of the crew and seven of the rescued seamen were drowned. Committee of Management voted £400 to the local fund for the relief of the dependants. The lifeboat crew were John Campbell, Thomas Clucas, George Elliot and Thomas Kelly.
Committee of Management voted £100 to widow of helper W Gordon, who was injured whilst assisting to take lifeboat to launching slip on service on 13 October and who died from the effects of an operation for the amputation of his right leg.
Douglas Council paid £453 to the Institution for the lifeboat house and site.
Committee of Management voted £100 to the widow of Second Coxswain John David Hay, whose death was attributed to catching a cold on exercise on 21 July. The widow was left with three children. She was formerly married to one of the crew of the lifeboat who was lost on service in 1881. She was then left with four children.
On 12 January the No 2 lifeboat was damaged on the rocks beyond repair owing to her moorings breaking. The lifeboat was not replaced and it was decided to abolish the No 1 station.
No 1 station closed.
When the lifeboat was being hauled up the slipway the slip chain was carried away and the lifeboat ran down and struck a yacht which was lying at moorings. Only minor repairs were necessary to the yacht.
Tomb of Sir William Hillary in St George’s Parish Church renovated.
Centenary Vellum awarded.
Celebration 150th Commemorative Vellum awarded.
Thanks of the Institution accorded to Captain J L Robertson, Honorary Secretary for his valuable service over the past ten years.
The new Tyne class lifeboat ON1147 Sir William Hillary was placed on service 25 November 1988. This lifeboat was funded by the Woolfenden legacy. Watson motor class lifeboat has been withdrawn.
Boathouse adapted to accommodate the new Tyne class lifeboat. Alterations included the replacement of all the slipway rollers in the Keelway, provision of external bilgeways, the installation of a Keelway liner and replacement of the transverse slipway ribs.
On 5 January a service was held to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the death of Sir William Hillary. A Vellum was presented to record the occasion.
Coxswain Robert Corran awarded MBE in The Queens Birthday Honours.
On 28 November 2001 the Committee of Management voted the award of a Vellum to Douglas to commemorate the completion of 200 years as a lifeboat station in 2002.
The RSPCA awarded their commendation for the rescue of a heifer stranded on a rocky outcrop in the dark on the evening of 31 October 2001. The heifer jumped into the sea where it was lassoed and gently towed to Port Sodenick beach, one and a half miles away.
Maintenance carried out, Asbestos removal/roof replacement at a cost of £53,157.
Repairs to slipway completed in April at a cost of £75,820.
Boathouse repair completed in December at a cost of £200,000.
Twenty medals have been awarded, five Gold and 15 Silver, the last being voted in 1841. Hillary’s first Gold Medal was an Honorary Award.