RNLI shops, museums and the College will open as Government guidance allows. Lifeboat stations remain operational but are not open to visitors.

Station history

In 1825 the first lifeboat was placed at Great Yarmouth by the Norfolk Association for Saving the Lives of Shipwrecked Mariners.  All the Associations stations were taken over by the RNLI in December 1857.  There were two boats at Great Yarmouth.  The station was closed in 1919 after the decision was made to place a motor lifeboat at Gorleston.


On 23 April a shoreboat capsized whilst on service to the vessel Jessie with the loss of five men they were W Brown, J Church, J Page, S Woods and W Woods.


The yawl Phoenix capsized with the loss of seven men whilst going to the aid of several vessels in distress on 16 January their names were G Barney, J Boulton, J George, G Hilling, J Shreeve, W Warner and A Wetherall.


The lifeboat Abraham Thomas capsized when on service to the schooner Guiding Star on 18 January, she was struck by a heavy sea; and lost six out of a crew of 10 They were C Beckett, J Ditcham, W Green, H Masterson, J Sherwood and R Symonds.  The survivor from the schooner was also lost.  Committee of Management voted £700 to local fund.


The larger of the two boats was moved to Gorleston due to manning difficulties.


The first station was opened by the RNLI in 1866, with a second boat in 1883.  A third lifeboat was on station from 1892 to 1904, whilst steam lifeboats were operational from 1897 to 1898 and 1903 to 1908.  The No2 station was closed in 1924.

The station was renamed Great Yarmouth and Gorleston in 1926.


Silver Medal awarded to Captain Chaplin, master of the Royal William steam packet who rescued the master and seven crew by boat from the brig Shipwright on 2 September 1833.


Silver Medals awarded to Charles Salmon and George Fleming in testimony of their services in a Gorleston yawl to nine people of the brig Ann Moor on the night of 16 February 1855.

Silver Medal awarded to Cdr Thomas Kisbee RN “…in testimony of his services in saving 87 people who had been wrecked at different periods from 10 wrecks on the coast of Norfolk”.


Great Yarmouth station was taken over by the Institution.


Silver Medal awarded to William Johnson who, with four men, rescued four of the seven crew of the sloop Queen, wrecked off Yarmouth during a gale on the night of 18 October 1858.


New lifeboat house built on a new site at Great Yarmouth at a cost of £375.


Owing to local jealousies the local Committee at Great Yarmouth decided that the appointment of a permanent coxswain be discontinued, that a boat keeper be appointed and that the boats be in the uncontrolled power of the Companies of Beachmen for the time being, who would be responsible for them.

Silver Medals awarded to Captain Thomas Davies RN and Coxswain George Milligan, for putting off and rescuing, during a heavy gale five men from the smack John Bull on the night of 17 February 1860.


On 13 January, one of the two lifeboats belonging to the Gorleston boatman named Rescuer, capsized with the loss of 13 of the crew of 16, they were W Dawkins, J Fleming, B Harris, W Manthorpe, A Newson, C Parker, R Spillings, E Welton, C Whiley, C Woods, E Woods Snr and J Woods Jnr.

The Gorleston station was established by the RNLI


The Rescuer was returning to harbour in an easterly gale after a service to the brig George Kendall, when the fishing lugger James and Ellen collided with her.  She capsized and six of her crew and 19 people were drowned, they were C Hannent, J Leggett, T Moreley, W Moss, J Sheen and N Spurgeon.


Silver Medal awarded to Captain David Robertson RN in acknowledgement of his gallant services on 13 February 1870 to the brig Giovannina A and on 14 February 1870 to the schooner Favorite.


New brick house by the side of the harbour at Gorleston built by J N Bray for £329.


New lifeboat house (Gorleston No 2) constructed at a cost of £495 alongside the 1881 house.


The Refuge (private lifeboat belonging to the Gorleston boatmen) had been out to a steamer on Hammonds Knoll and was being towed to port by a tug when the rope parted and the Refuge was driven on to the North Bank where she capsized.  Four of her crew of seven were drowned, they were A George, S George, W Whiley, and A Woods.  Committee of Management voted £400 to local fund.


A lifeboat, the Elizabeth Simpson was presented to Gorleston by Miss Elizabeth Simpson Stone of Norwich and manned by a company of boatmen known as the Gorleston Rangers.  She was administered by a local committee and between 1889 and 1939 she was launched on service 119 times and rescued 441 lives from shipwreck.


A new corrugated iron boathouse with a short slipway on a pile foundation constructed for Gorleston No 3 station.

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain E W Woods in recognition of his general gallant services, particularly on the occasion of the rescue of the crew of the ketch Ada on 13 October 1891.


Whilst assisting to transfer equipment from No 2 old lifeboat to new lifeboat on 22 August 1894, a member of the crew, James Adams, aged 69, died suddenly.  The Institution defrayed funeral expenses and voted £5.


Gas service provided to No 1 and No 2 lifeboat houses.  Boathouse of the late Gorleston volunteer lifeboat purchased for £50.


Arrangements made for tug to tow lifeboat.

Gorleston No.4 station opened - Steam lifeboat City of Glasgow


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain William Todd, on his retirement and for past services.


Committee of Management voted £50 to local fund for the benefit of the dependants of three members of the lifeboat crew, Joseph Sutton, George Shreeve and Arthur Beckett, who lost their lives in the pleasure boat New Skylark which was run down off Yarmouth by a steamer on 1 September.


Steam lifeboat James Stevens No 3 on station at Gorleston No 4.

Gorleston station No.3 closed.


Silver Medals awarded to Coxswain Sidney Harris and to James Sclanders, chief engineer of the steam lifeboat, for the rescue of six from the brig Celerity of Lowestoft on 15 January 1905 in a whole south east gale, very heavy sea and very cold weather.


Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Sidney Harris, for gallantly swimming out and establishing communications with the drifter Fruitful of Wick, by which means the crew of eight were rescued on 11 November 1905.


Steam lifeboat transferred to Angle.  No 4 station closed.


Silver Third-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Sidney Harris and a Silver Medal to second Coxswain Ellery Harris, for the rescue of nine people from the ss Clunie of Aberdeen in severe weather on 28 October 1909.


Silver Medal awarded to James Cowie for plunging into the sea and at great risk rescuing one of the crew of the steam drifter Mistletoe of Banff on 15 October 1910.


Silver Fourth-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Sidney Harris, for the rescue of 33 people from the Egyptian of Glasgow on 26 August 1912 in a west-north-west wind of hurricane force and torrential rain.  The rescue was a gallant one due to the indomitable pluck displayed by the coxswain and by his zeal and dogged perseverance.


Committee of Management approved the use of horses being abolished at Yarmouth and manual labour being employed instead.


Silver Fifth-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Sidney Harris and Silver Medal to Edward Bensley for a fine service on 29 March 1916 when the crew of four of the schooner Dart were rescued.

Reported that as gunfire broke all the windows in the lifeboat house it was no use having them repaired at present.


Great Yarmouth station closed.


Gorleston supplied with its first motor lifeboat.


The outstanding service of 1922 and one of the finest in the annals of the Institution was carried out on 19/21 October 1922 by the Lowestoft motor lifeboat and the Gorleston pulling and sailing lifeboat when, after a struggle lasting two nights and a day in a fierce north east gale with a very heavy sea, the whole crew of 24 of the ss Hopelyn of Newcastle was safely brought ashore.  The following awards were made to the Gorleston men:-

Gold Medal awarded to Coxswain William Fleming and Bronze Medals to Second Coxswain S B Parker (Jnr), Bowman C W Chilvers and crew members J Fleming, W Gosling, G Harris, E Harris, A Harris, W Halfnight, C A Johnson, H Leggett, T Morley, A Newson, W Newson, J Stubbs, E Stubbs.


Gorleston Station No.2 closed.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain William Fleming for the rescue of the crew of four of the ketch Henrietta on 22 December 1925 in a full north easterly gale and very heavy sea.  Great risk was incurred in this service.

Gorleston station renamed Great Yarmouth and Gorleston


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain William Fleming for his part in an exceptional service in which the lifeboats from Cromer, Gorleston and Lowestoft took part in the service to the Dutch oil tanker Georgia which stranded on the Haisborough Sands on 21 November 1927 and which broke completely in two in terrible weather conditions.  This service ranks as one of the greatest in the history of the service.


Two men washed out of lifeboat whilst on service.  No lives lost.


Bronze Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Charles A Johnson for a series of difficult services on 23 November 1938 when the lifeboat was launched to the help of no fewer than seven barges.  She was out almost continuously for over eleven hours, saved two barges with their crew of four men, rescued the crew of three more barges, six men in all and stood by two other barges.  A gale was blowing from the south east with a very rough sea and heavy rain.


Bronze Third-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Charles A Johnson for a service to HM trawler Resolvo on 2 December 1939 when the crew of 10 were rescued.  It was a service in which very fine seamanship was shown and it was only the skill of the coxswain that saved the lifeboat from being much more severely damaged than it was.

The lifeboat Louise Stephens took part, with 18 other lifeboats, in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk.  She was taken over by a naval crew.  What she did there is not known but an officer of the RNVR wrote afterwards to the Institution:

I took the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat across to Dunkirk on two nights.
Her performance was a revelation and a delight.

She came back with a hole in her after endbox.



Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Charles A Johnson and Bronze Medal to motor Mechanic G F Mobbs for a service of great difficulty and danger carried out with splendid skill and courage when six ships of a convey were wrecked on 6 August 1941.  A gale was blowing from north-north-west with a rough sea and squalls of rain and very poor visibility.  In this service 119 lives were rescued by Cromer, Gorleston, Sheringham and Lowestoft lifeboats.

Bronze Fourth-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Charles A Johnson for a service on 26/27 October 1941 to the ss English Trader ashore on Hammond Knoll.  A full gale was blowing from the north-north-east with heavy squalls of rain, hail and sleet.  The sea was very rough and the weather very cold.  The Cromer lifeboat rescued the crew.


Coxswain Charles A Johnson retired.   He was coxswain from 1934 to 1946 and holder of a Silver Medal and four Bronze Medals.  During his period of office Gorleston lifeboat were launched on 169 occasions and rescued 192 lives.


A plaque was erected in 1954 in the lifeboat house in memory of Coxswain William George Fleming, who was coxswain of Gorleston lifeboat station from 1922 to 1934.  Altogether he served 50 years in the lifeboats of the Institution and in the volunteer lifeboats that used to serve Gorleston, during which period 1,188 lives were rescued from shipwreck.  For his part in this great achievement he was decorated with the OBE, which decoration was later changed to the George Cross and also awarded the Institution’s Gold Medal for conspicuous gallantry and also its Silver Medal and three Bronze Medals.  He died in 1954 at the age of 89.


A Centenary Vellum awarded to Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, taking into account service of Great Yarmouth station, taken over by the RNLI in 1857.


Inshore lifeboat station established with the placing on service of a D class lifeboat in May.


A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was sent to the coxswain and crew following the service to the auxiliary cutter Theodora on 5/6 September.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic John Bryan in recognition of his courage, determination and seamanship when in a westerly gale with a very rough sea and heavy rain squalls the lifeboat under his command took off five members of the crew of the motor vessel Karen Bravo which was in distress and listing heavily five miles south east at the Cross Sand Light Vessel on the night of 9/10 November 1969.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Acting Coxswain David Bennington in recognition of his determination and seamanship when the crew of two were rescued from the fishing vessel My Doris eight miles north-north-east of the lifeboat station on 21 October 1973.


Bronze Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic John Bryan for the service on 13 December 1974, when the lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of five of the motor vessel Biscaya and a member of the crew of the tug Titan who had boarded the Biscaya.

Atlantic 21 class lifeboat sent to station.


D class lifeboat withdrawn on 21 March.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Richard Hawkins in recognition of his courage and seamanship when the lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of two of the fishing vessel St Margarite which had stranded on Scroby Sands in a strong north easterly wind and a short steep sea on 22 December 1979.


Two RSPCA certificates of merit were presented to the station for the rescue of two dogs.  The first was rescued by the Barham lifeboat on 31 August 1980 off the lower promenade café whilst the lifeboat was on exercise.  The second dog was rescued by the Atlantic 21 lifeboat after it had fallen from the North Pier on 4 January.

Institution paid for the refurbishing of the 1881 Lifeboat Disaster Memorial in the Kitchener Road North Cemetery for the centenary of the disaster on 18 January 1881.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain/Mechanic Richard Hawkins in recognition of the skill and determination he displayed when the lifeboat saved the yacht Seamist of Rhu and rescued her crew of two in a north-north-easterly gale and rough sea on 3 May.  A framed letter of thanks signed by the Chairman was awarded to crew member Paul Carter for his part in the service.


More than 100 lifeboatmen and one woman received the Freedom of the Borough of Great Yarmouth.  The past and present crews of the Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Caister lifeboat stations assembled for the ceremony which was held on 2 September.  The oldest lifeboatman present was Mr Charles Knights, aged 95, and the woman was Kim Edwards who was a member of the inshore lifeboat crew at Gorleston.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain/Mechanic Richard J Hawkins in recognition of the skill and determination displayed by him when the lifeboat rescued two crew from the Rig Support Vessel Seaforth Conquerer which was aground on North Scroby Sands in a south-westerly storm and very rough seas in the darkness of the night of 18/19 November 1986.  The Caister Volunteer Lifeboat Shirley Jean Adye, which also went out under the command of Coxswain Roland Read, rescued 10 of the crew.  In recognition of the skill and determination displayed by Coxswain Read, he also received the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain/Mechanic Richard J Hawkins in recognition of his boat handling skills and exemplary manner when on 19/20 August 1990 he rescued the two crew of the yacht Southern Cross and saved the vessel, six miles south-west-by-west of Smith’s Knoll Light Vessel in a gale force wind and rough seas.

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to second Coxswain David V Mason for his part in this service when he jumped onto the yacht and took over control of the Southen Cross.


Major refurbishment works have been carried out on the Atlantic 21 boathouse at a cost of £121,000.  As well as providing more spacious accommodation, the rejuvenated boathouse includes changing and drying rooms, toilet, crew meeting/training room, workshop, fuel store, gift shop and display area, including the restored former Gorleston Lifeboat John and Mary Meiklam of Gladswood.

Work was also carried out on the construction of a new pen for the all weather Waveney class lifeboat, costing a further £226,000.  It also includes the construction of a brick building adjacent to the berth, to provide housing for the new fuel storage tank.


Work was carried out on the construction of a new refuelling gangway at the lifeboat berth.


A collective Famed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman, Sir Michael Vernon, was awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Richard Hawkins, Second Coxswain David Mason, Assistant Mechanic Patrick Lee and crew members David Beale, Ian Everson and Geoffrey Wing in recognition of their fine display of teamwork and determination when on 26 July 1995 the relief lifeboat Khami rescued the three crew from the yacht Poule D’Eau.  The Paule D’Eau was aground on the east side of Holm Sand, down by the head and listing slightly with a rough confused sea breaking over her.  The three crew were clinging to the mast and rigging.

HRH Princess Alexandra officially named the station’s new Trent class lifeboat RNLB ON1208 Samarbeta on 24 July (the name Samarbeta meaning working together in Swedish was suggested by a 13 year old boy, winner of a competition run by Volvo dealers).

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain David Mason in recognition of the seamanship, skill and determination he displayed when the lifeboat Samarbeta rescued six people and saved the yacht Olline by taking it in tow 29 miles east-south-east of Lowestoft in a violent storm force wind, rough seas, and a very heavy swell during an 11 hour service on 29 August 1996.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Assistant Mechanic Stephen Bartram who boarded the yacht Olline and remained onboard throughout the service.

This was the first Medal award service by a Trent class lifeboat.


Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, David Ackland, was awarded to Bob Keegan, Steve Gowing and Simon Phillips from the Great Yarmouth Port Authority for their vigilance, initiative and prompt response when it became apparent that there were people in the water, in need of assistance, at East Quay on 14 November 1997.


A new boathouse extension completed and a new Davit installed in September at a cost of £195,085.


Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Admiral Sir Jock Slater awarded to Coxswain Stephen Bartram and crew member Kevin Bennington, in recognition of their actions during a service on the night of 13 May 2005.  The all weather lifeboat saved the lives of the four crew and the yacht Twister.  The yacht had suffered steering problems and despite north easterly gale force winds, breaking seas and 4 ½ metre waves, Coxswain Bartram succeeded in locating the yacht and putting crew member Bennington aboard.  A tow was established and the Twister was safely brought into Great Yarmouth.


The Trustees of the RNLI at their meeting on 22 November 2006 voted that the station be awarded a Vellum to mark it’s 150th anniversary in 2007.


On the closure of South Broads lifeboat station the 4x4 rescue vehicle based there was transferred to this station.  An Arancia IRB will also be allocated here.


Forty-five Medals have been awarded, one Gold, 21 Silver and 24 Bronze, the last Medals voted in 1996.


In 1912 Coxswain S J Harris awarded the American Cross of Honour for the rescue of 33 people from ss Egyptian of Glasgow.

In 1927 a silver watch was awarded to Coxswain William Fleming and a letter of thanks to the crew by the Queen of Holland for standing by the oil tanker Georgia of Amsterdam, when she was stranded on Haisborough Sands on 21 November.

In 1952 the Institution and the crew of the lifeboat were awarded the Thanks of the Royal Danish Navy for service to the patrol boat Havoermen of the Royal Danish Navy.