Dungeness' station history

Lives rescued during the 1939-1945 war: 9


Sixteen medals have been awarded, one Gold, 12 Silver and three Bronze.  The last was voted in 2012.


In November 1891, the Dungeness and New Romney lifeboats were launched to the Brig Aeolus of Arendal.  Two Dungeness lifeboat men were lost.  The King of Sweden awarded Silver Medals to the crew of both lifeboats.

This station guards the Channel from Rye Bay to Folkestone.

The early history of the station is complicated by the fact that there does not appear to have been any clear distinction made between Dungeness, Lydd, Littlestone and New Romney.  There is no doubt however, that a lifeboat was placed at Dungeness by the Institution in 1826.  It appears that the station lapsed between 1839 and 1854 but there is a continuous history since 1854.  A No 2 station was established in 1892.  Original No 1 station closed in 1939 when the former No 2 station became No 1.

Dungeness was the last station where women help to launch the lifeboat.  Two women launchers, Miss Madge Tart and her sister-in-law, Mrs Ellen Tart, members of a family whose men folk and women folk have helped to man and launch the Dungeness lifeboat for more than a century were each awarded the Institutions Gold Badge in 1953.  In 1979 Mrs Tart’s daughter Doris, and Mrs Joan Bates, were each awarded Gold Badges in recognition of 44 years’ and 37 years’ service respectively as shore helpers.

In a church situated quite near the lifeboat house there is a cross that was made from a broken skid from the station.


Silver Medal awarded to Lieut Henslow RN for saving the crew of 10 from the Brig Osiris on 27 August 1832.


Gold Medal awarded to Lieut George Snell RN on 29 January for saving the crew of six from the Brig Pioneer on 24 January 1834.


Silver Medal awarded to Lieut W Pedder RN on 11 February when he saved by boat the Master and nine men from the Brig Lord Exmouth on 18 January 1835.


Silver Medal awarded to Lieut Matthew Combe RN on 12 March for saving the crew from the William Harrington on 31 January 1845.


Two Silver Medals awarded to Thomas Rivers and J Willcox on 12 June for saving the crew of the Greek Brig Melpomene on 21 March 1851.


Coastguard boat capsized with the loss of four of her crew of seven on 29 April when on service to the vessel Alice Maud.  Their names were T Fletcher, P Light, T Noble and another whose name is unknown.


Silver Medals awarded to John Sims and Arthur Brooks for saving 39 people by means of life buoys and a hawser, from the Dutch emigrant Brig Louise Emelie that came ashore in gale force winds on 27 December 1852.

Lifeboat capsized whilst on service on 19 October.  No lives were lost.


Silver Medal awarded to Peter Smith for saving the Master and crew of the Norwegian Brig Caroline which was wrecked during a heavy gale off Lydd on 25 October 1859.


Dungeness lifeboat moved to Littlestone, which later became a separate station known as New Romney.


New lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £211.


Old lifeboat sold for use by Coastguards for £20.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Richard Billett for putting out in a boat to take off the Master and his wife from the barge Ilmatar of Finland, which had stranded off Dungeness on 18 May 1876.


Lifeboat launched to assist the Schooner Elizabeth Alice of Cardiff on 10 February, but after two attempts was forced to return to her station.  Later the coastguard galley was launched but after reaching the vessel she filled with water and one man, George Hamblin, who had also been out in the Institution’s lifeboat, was washed out and drowned.  The Committee of Management voted £100 to his widow.


Lifeboat, when out on service to the Brig Aeolus in a severe gale on 11 November, capsized and two of the crew, Henry Reeves and Daniel Nicholls, were drowned,  Committee of Management voted £600 to the local fund for dependants.  Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain James Lucas on the occasion of the accident.


Second lifeboat stationed at Dungeness (number 2 station).


Lifeboat launched to assist the barque Joanne Marie of Christiania on 20 November, but was struck by heavy seas and capsized, and Second Coxswain John Jarratt, was drowned.  The Committee of Management voted £50 to his parents.  The lifeboat was beached and the crew volunteered to go out again but the Dover lifeboat came up and rescued the crew of seven of the barque.


George Campbell died as a result of exposure whilst manning the lifeboat on 19 December 1898.


On 4 November one member of the crew was washed out of the lifeboat whilst on service but was rescued.


On 19 March, when the lifeboat was launched on service she was thrown broadside to the beach, and eight of her crew were thrown into the water.  All the men regained the lifeboat which proceeded to the assistance of the stranded vessel.


Centenary Vellum awarded to station.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Douglas Oiller in recognition of the way in which the lifeboat was launched in the face of a terrific gale, and the dogged courage with which he held the seas until he found the barge Marie May.  The service took place on 11 November 1929 and was reported to be very difficult and dangerous, considering that both the lifeboat which went out were pulling and sailing boats.


The Charles Cooper Henderson was one of the 19 lifeboats of the Institution’s fleet which took part in the evacuation of the BEF form Dunkirk.  She was manned by naval ratings and the Institution has no records of what she did at Dunkirk but she came back damaged.


In July the lifeboat was launched to an American ship and landed injured men from her.  She made two trips and her launchers, many of them women, waited on the exposed beach for four hours, during which time an intense barrage of flying bombs were going over.

On 31 August, and again on 2 September, the lifeboat went out to a Phoenix, one of the concrete caissons out of which the invasion harbour was built in Normandy.  The caisson was at anchor waiting on the weather.  Her food and water were gone and the lifeboat took out fresh supplies and a relief crew.  Two days later the Phoenix’s anchors began to drag.  A sixty mile an hour gale was now blowing and the lifeboat went out again and rescued the crew of four.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain George Tart for the rescue of the crew of nine of the motor vessel Teeswood on 29 July 1956.  When the lifeboat arrived at the scene the vessel had capsized and the men were rescued from the water.  The height of the waves, together with flying spray and rain, made it extremely difficult to locate the survivors, none of whom was capable of helping themselves.  The wind was of hurricane force with gusts of up to 80 knots.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain George Tart in recognition of his determination and good judgement and excellent seamanship when the lifeboat rescued the crew of five of the catamaran Nimble Eve in a south west by west gale and a heavy sea, on 7 August.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Tom Tart and Bronze Medal to Assistant Mechanic Peter Thomas for the landing of an injured man from the motor vessel Merc Texco on 11 February 1974.  The lifeboat was launched into very dangerous surf conditions and was manoeuvred alongside the vessel on two occasions before the injured man, with the help of the assistant mechanic who boarded the vessel, could be taken off.  Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to the other five members of the lifeboat crew and to the launchers and the shore helpers.  For this service Coxswain Tart received the Maud Smith Award for the bravest act of lifesaving in 1974.


 Anniversary Vellum awarded to station to commemorate its 150th anniversary.


New lifeboat house constructed for approximately £45,000.

The lifeboat Mable E Holland kept at station following arrival of new lifeboat Alice Upjohn until the winch could be re-sited at the new lifeboat house.


Lifeboat Mabel E Holland withdrawn from station 27 January.

The country’s last two lady lifeboat launchers, Mrs Doris Tart and Mrs Joan Bates of Dungeness, awarded the Institution’s Gold Badge for their outstanding services.  Mrs Tart had been a shore helper for 44 years and Mrs Bates for 37 years.  Mrs Tart’s mother and her aunt were awarded Gold Badges in 1953 in recognition of 50 years service as shore helpers.


Framed Letters of Appreciation signed by the Chairman of the Institution awarded to Coxswain William Richardson and tractor driver Kenneth Coleman for a service carried out on 14 April, which involved all lifeboats between Dover and Newhaven.  The letter to Coxswain Richardson recognised his skill in initially launching the lifeboat at 0045 in very arduous conditions, followed by a 12 hour search in which the Dungeness lifeboat rescued three people.  Kenneth Coleman, driving the tractor, displayed a great skill during the initial launch with his quick reactions, which were the main reasons no injuries were sustained by the crew and no damage was caused to the lifeboat during this difficult launch from the beach.


A collective framed letter of appreciation signed by the Chairman on the Institution was awarded to Coxswain William Richardson and crew members; head launcher Mr Frederick Voller and shore helpers in recognition of their tireless efforts on 4 October to launch the lifeboat to the yacht Emma.  Difficulty was experienced when a heavy swell swept under the lifeboat and jammed it in the carriage.  Although the lifeboat was freed and recovered by the tractor, the carriage was still in the water and submerged by a rising tide.  The crew and shore helpers entered the water, and despite being buffeted by rough seas managed to secure the carriage.  Once pulled clear by the tractor, the lifeboat was prepared for another launch, which went ahead without incident.


Silver Medal awarded to Crew Member Gary Clark in recognition of his courage, determination and endurance when he boarded a yacht in south westerly force 10 winds and nine metre seas during the early morning of 3 January 2012.  He established, and re-established numerous tows in storm force conditions, took charge of the yacht, rendered first aid and thereby enabled the lives of the seven crew on the yacht to be saved, as well as the vessel itself.  Deputy Second Coxswain Mark Richardson and Mechanic/Deputy Second Coxswain Trevor Bunney were both accorded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum for their seamanship, professionalism and significant contribution to the service.


Dungeness RNLI became the first lifeboat station to receive a Shannon class lifeboat. Now found at many stations across the UK and Ireland, the Shannon is the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI fleet. She is powered by waterjets instead of traditional propellers and has a top speed of 25 knots.

Dungeness Lifeboat Station's Shannon is called The Morrell. She was named on 31 May 2014 by HRH The Princess Royal. The Morrell is named after the family of Barbara Morrell, who asked that her legacy of more than £6M to the RNLI would be used to fund a lifeboat in Kent.