Station history

The first lifeboat was built by Greathead.  Apparently the station ceased to exist for some years until it was re-established by the Institution in 1858.

1831

Silver Medal awarded to Chief Officer of Coastguard Lt John Sergeant.  On 6 December 1830 the brig Unity was driven ashore near Exmouth during a violent storm.  The Manby rock apparatus failed because the line broke.  Lieutenant Sergeant went into the surf with a rope and with the assistance of two of his crew and several inhabitants succeeded in saving the whole crew of seven.

1851

Silver Medal awarded to Thomas Pincomb Jnr, a pilot, who was upset from his boat while putting off with the intention of rescuing the crew of the brig Maria wrecked at Exmouth on 5 January 1851.

1859

Lifeboat house constructed.

1867

Lifeboat capsized on exercise.  No lives lost.

1882

On 1 November the lifeboat was launched on service to schooner Lady Elizabeth but was unable to find her.  The crew then tried to beach but just before dusk in a strong gale and heavy rain the boat was struck by an unusually heavy sea and capsized.  Fortunately all the crew regained the boat.  They then made for the station, which they reached after 5½ hours of severe toil at rowing.

1884

Gas service provided to lifeboat house.

1894

Silver Medals awarded to John Bradford, Uriah Bradford and George Prowse, for gallantly launching a small boat and, at considerable risk, rescuing the crew of six of the schooner John Gronsind of Svendborg, which had been driven on the Pole Sands in a strong south easterly gale and a very heavy sea on 4 January 1894.

1903

New lifeboat house constructed on site of existing one at a cost of over £700.

1905

Signalman Frederick Hayman Horne fired the signals for an exercise on 9 August and went home.  He was however found dead later from a heart attack amongst some trees near the lifeboat house.  Committee of Management voted £15 to local fund.

1907

Whilst lifeboat was being launched for exercise on 14 March, Coxswain Henry Christopher Squire, who was assisting, collapsed and died.  Committee of Management voted £150 to dependants.

1916

The lifeboat was launched on service on 5 November during a whole south east gale and very heavy sea to the ship St Paul.  The crew was composed of elderly men and the Committee of Management granted them an additional award and sent them a special letter of thanks.

1930

Centenary Vellum awarded.

1938

Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Thomas Horne for the launch on 15 January.  At 0530 a report that rockets had been seen off Lyme Regis and it was decided to launch the motor lifeboat Catherine Harriet Eaton.  A gale was blowing from the southwest against the spring ebb tide, making a very heavy sea in the bay.  A big bank of sand had formed on the beach and this and the heavy seas made the work of launching extremely difficult.  Thirty-two launchers took part, the Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer of the station wading out to encourage them, and it was not until the fourth attempt that the launchers succeeded in getting the lifeboat underway.  For six hours the lifeboat searched in the gale, but could find no vessel in distress.  She returned to station at 1345.

1952

Lifeboat signalman Samuel Gifford fell from his bicycle when answering a service call on 6 July and sustained severe bruising and abrasions.  He went on service but on returning was taken to hospital and later had a stroke.  He died on 25 December 1953.  His wife received an allowance from the Institution until she died April 1980.

1953

Crew member P S Gifford was fatally injured en route to a launch.

Commemorative Vellum awarded for 150 years.

1954

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Harold Bradford for the rescue of the crew of five of the cabin cruiser Nicky which was in distress some 50 yards inside a rocky ledge at the approach to the estuary of the River Exe on 19 September 1954.  The rescue was carried out with courage and determination under difficult conditions of darkness in shallow breaking water with heavy rain squalls.

1956

On 25 December the lifeboat was on service to the motor vessel Minerva when she was struck by heavy seas and Second Coxswain Phillips and crew member William Carder were washed overboard.  The shore was informed by radio and a search of the beach was organised and both men were found.  Unfortunately William Carder could not be revived.  An allowance was paid to his father by the Institution.

Following this tragedy Trinity House asked those members of the lifeboat crew who were members of the Pilot staff to resign from the lifeboat and Coxswain H J Bradford, a Bronze Medallist, and two others left the service.

1966

D class lifeboat sent to station in May.

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to Coxswain Brian Rowsell and crew member Peter Rowsell in recognition of their service in the inflatable lifeboat on 29 May when three bathers were rescued in a heavy sea two miles south west of Exmouth.

1977

Motor Mechanic Bernard Bradford was awarded the Queens Silver Jubilee Medal.

1981

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, The Duke of Atholl, awarded to Coxswain Brian Rowsell in recognition of the service carried out by him in the station's boarding boat on 19 December, when the crew of two of the yacht Michelle were landed.  This service was performed in very difficult conditions with a strong south south easterly gale and very rough, short seas.  Leaving and entering the dock entrance were hazardous operations.  Mr M Clifton, a former crew member of the inflatable lifeboat who accompanied Coxswain Rowsell, was sent a Letter of Appreciation signed by the Director, Rear Admiral W J Graham.

1985

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to crew member Geoffrey Ingram in recognition of his meritorious action on 7 April when he entered the sea from the lifeboat Caroline Finch to give support to two girls who were in considerable difficulty after a speedboat sank one and a half miles east by south of Exmouth.

1994

Refurbishment of the crewroom and repairs to tractor house.

Brede class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Waveney.

1996

Waveney class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Trent class, 6 July 1997.

1997

New D class lifeboat D516 placed on service on 27 May.

2002

Following the visit on 24 October 2001 by the Coast Review delegation, led by Admiral Sir Jock Slater, it was agreed by the Search and Rescue Committee on 6 February 2002 and resolved by the Executive Committee at their meeting on 10 April 2002 that there be no change to the lifeboat cover provided at Exmouth Lifeboat Station but that every effort be made to reduce the existing launching limitation for the all-weather lifeboat.

The Trustee Meeting held on 27 November decided that Exmouth Lifeboat Station be awarded a Vellum to commemorate the completion of 200 years service in 2003.

2006

The new class of lifeboat IB1, D669 George Bearman was placed on service on Wednesday 27 September.  D516 has been withdrawn to the Relief Fleet.

2008

A new class of lifeboat, a Mersey, ON 1178 Margaret Jean was placed on service on 20 May.  This was to minimise the service restriction due to the depth of water in the river at low tide. 

2009

A new station and FCB2 and D Class boathouse was built at a total cost of £1,750,000.

2010

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Admiral the Lord Boyce was awarded to Helmsman Giles White in recognition of his tenacity, judgement and seamanship skills when the inshore lifeboat rescued two teenage girls close to the sea wall of Dawlish.  The girls had been swept into the sea on the evening of 9 October 2010.  The service was conducted in confused breaking seas in near darkness.

2012

Bronze Medal awarded to Helmsman Roger Jackson in recognition of his courage, seamanship, leadership and tenacity when the lifeboat saved the lives of four young men whose RIB had capsized on the afternoon of 23 October 2011.  The service was conducted in the most hazardous part of the river estuary, in south easterly force 7/8 winds and steep, breaking four metre waves. Unable to approach the upturned RIB because of copious amounts of flotsam and wreckage, he made four separate approaches to recover the casualties, timing his calls for them to swim to the lifeboat one at a time at moments when both boats were positioned between the waves’ crests.  Crew members Mark Champion and Andrew Williams were both accorded the Thanks of the Institute inscribed on Vellum for their courage, professionalism and commitment to the service.

2014

The new Shannon class lifeboat ON1310 R & J Welburn was placed on service 22 May 2014. The lifeboat ON 1178 Margaret Jean has been withdrawn.

MEDAL RECORD

Seven medals have been awarded, five Silver and two Bronze the last being voted in 2012.