The Humber Lifeboat station stands on the extreme tip of Spurn Point, the most southerly fragment of Yorkshire, where the fast flowing Humber unites with the turbulent North Sea.
The Humber Lifeboat Station at Spurn Point was established in 1810 and until 1908 was maintained by the Hull Trinity House. In that year it passed under the charge of the Humber Conservancy Board and in 1911 was taken over by the Institution. No complete record of its work before that date exists but it is stated in the record book of Hull Trinity House that nearly 800 lives had been rescued between 1810 and 1854.
The most outstanding figure at this station was Coxswain Robert Cross. When Coxswain Cross retired in November 1943 at the age of 67, he had been coxswain of the Humber Station for 31 years. He had taken part in the rescue of 403 lives, had won the Gold Medal twice, the Silver Medal three times, the Bronze Medal twice, the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and the George Medal. During the six years in which he served as a member of the crew before the Institution took the station over in 1911 and appointed him coxswain, he took part in the rescue of 50 lives so that his grand total of lives is 453.
There is no honorary secretary at this station as the Superintendent Coxswain is in charge.
The crew are full-time employees and live in the Institutions houses at Spurn Point.
Silver Medal awarded to James Norris, Master of the Smack Waterloo for rescuing five men from the wrecked brig Manly on 5 October. Two others died on the wreck.
Silver Medal to J M Williams, Mate of the quarantine cutter Bee for rescuing six men from the Andromache wrecked at Hull on 23 October.
Lifeboat capsized on service on 24 October, J Branton, died.
The death of Captain Michael Hansley Welburn in 13 April 1853 was caused by exposure whilst undertaking the duties as Coxswain of the Spurn Point lifeboat.
Lifeboat capsized on service on 19 November, J Combes and H Holmes, died.
Silver Medal to Edward Weldrake, one of the crew of the Hull Trinity lifeboat stationed at Spurn Point, in acknowledgement of his gallant conduct in jumping into the sea from the lifeboat and saving the master of the sloop Grace Darling which was wrecked on the middle banks off Spurn Point, during a strong easterly gale, on 24 December 1976.
Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain R Cross for the service on 9 December 1915, when the lifeboat launched to ss Florence which had stranded on the middle banks. It was a very dark night blowing a strong southerly gale with very heavy breakers and a terrible sea running over the Binks. As the lifeboat was unable to go alongside in the shallow looking water, no-one would volunteer to jump overboard and try to get a line to the ship. The coxswain himself went with a line round his body but was unsuccessful. He then asked for a volunteer to stand on the sandbanks and pay out a line to him whilst he made another attempt and P Martin jumped overboard and did so; by this means communication was effected and the crew of eight rescued.
Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain R Cross in recognition of his great efforts to save the crew of an unknown smack which was wrecked on the Binks during a moderately easterly gale with a heavy sea on 18 October. The Committee of Management considered this a most dangerous and difficult service.
On 29 August the first actual life-saving service with a line-throwing gun was carried out when the sloop Spring was saved and the crew of three rescued.
The name of the station was changed from Spurn to Humber. There were two lifeboats at Humber between 1930 and 1932.
Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain R Cross for the rescue of the ss Whinstone which was in distress near Saltfleet during a whole northerly gale with a very heavy sea on 25 November 1925.
A tablet on the lifeboat house was unveiled to the memory of the late S Crabtree Helm of Bradford whose legacy was used to defray the cost of the slipway.
Centenary Vellum was awarded to station.
Coxswain R Cross awarded Silver Third-Service Clasp and Motor Mechanic John Major the Bronze Medal for the rescue of seven from the steam trawler Saltaire which ran aground on the Inner Binks on 10 October. The only way to rescue the crew was to haul them through the water by breeches buoy.
Gold Medal of the Institution and the George Medal awarded to Coxswain Robert Cross and Silver Medals awarded to his crew, John Sanderson Major, William Jenkinson, William Hood, Samuel Cross and Samuel Hoopell for rescuing the crew of nine from the grounded trawler Gurth on 12 February 1940. This service was carried out on a very cold, pitch dark night, in a strong westerly wind with heavy, continuous snow and with two crew short due to illness. As there were only six men on the lifeboat the coxswain could not spare anyone to work the searchlight. The crew, who were repeatedly knocked down by heavy seas: shaken and bruised, were only saved from being washed overboard by clinging to the handrails. A rope that was washed overboard fouled a propeller and for part of the time the lifeboat had only one working engine. With co-ordinated use of the engines, helm, cable and line, Coxswain Cross worked the lifeboat with her battered crew, and after more than 20 approaches alongside the trawler they rescued the whole of her crew.
Bronze Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain R Cross for a skilful and very courageous rescue, in circumstances of great danger to rescue the crew of eight men of the air raid balloon ship Thora that had gone aground on the edge of Trinity Sands just inside the mouth of the Humber on 27 February, where it was known that many mines had been dropped by enemy aircraft only a day or two before.
Gold Second Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain R Cross, Silver Medal to Reserve Mechanic George Richards and Bronze Medals to crewmembers George Stephenson, Samuel Cross, Sidney Harman, William Major and George Shakesby for the rescue of 19 persons from HM trawler Almondine on 6/7 January. The rescue was only made possible by fine seamanship and great determination. The Almondine was lying on her side in the sands, the night was very dark and there were heavy snow showers. A strong spring flood tide was swirling over the Binks and the seas were breaking from all directions. In a succession of runs 19 men were taken off before the trawler floated away and disappeared with her Captain and officers still on board.
Second Mechanic C Alcock was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s testimonial on Vellum for the rescue of a man from the sea alongside the Military Jerry on 3 February.
150th Anniversary Vellum awarded to station.
D class lifeboat sent to station – withdrawn October 1964.
Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain R Buchan in recognition of his courage and skill in approaching close to the wreck of the motor vessel Anzio I in appalling weather conditions on 3 April in search of possible survivors.
A special doctor’s Vellum was awarded to Dr James Duncan Busfield who displayed great determination and complete disregard for personal well-being when, after an arduous journey to the lifeboat station due to very heavy rain and adverse road conditions, he proceeded in the Humber lifeboat City of Bradford III on 1 October to attend two injured men on board the Belgian trawler Marbi which involved him in a prolonged period at sea, both in the lifeboat and trawler.
Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan was one of eight guests from various walks of life at an informal luncheon given by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on 18 May.
Silver Medal awarded to Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan in recognition of the courage, skill and initiative displayed by him when the lifeboat rescued six of the crew of the coaster Diana V which was in distress approximately 25 miles east of Spurn Point in a violent easterly storm with driving snow and heavy sea on 30/31 December 1978. His crew was each accorded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum.
Gold Medal awarded to Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan in recognition of the outstanding courage, initiative, expertise and leadership displayed by him when the lifeboat rescued the crew of four of the Panamanian cargo vessel Revi which was listing and making water approximately four miles north by east of the Humber Light Vessel in a violent north easterly storm and a very heavy sea on 14 February. Bronze Medals were awarded to Second Coxswain Dennis Bailey, Mechanic Barry Sayers, Assistant Mechanic Ronald Sayers and crew members Michael B Storey, Peter Jordan, Sydney Rollinson and Dennis Bailey (Jnr).
Bronze Medal awarded to Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan in recognition of the courage, skill and tenacity displayed by him when the lifeboat escorted to the River Humber the Rumanian cargo vessel Savinesti which had broken down and lost both her anchors 37½ miles south east by east of Spurn Point in an east-north-vbeasterly hurricane with extremely poor visibility due to heavy snow, sub zero temperatures and a very rough sea on 15/16 February.
Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to crew members Peter Jordan and Dennis Bailey Jnr when they launched the Y class dinghy to a small boat aground on Foul Holme Sands in freezing conditions on 6 December.
Bronze Medal Second-Service Clasp awarded to Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan in recognition of the courage, determination and seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat rescued three of the crew of the motor vessel Harry Mitchell which had developed a list of 30º to port when her cargo of timber shifted four and a half miles north-north-east of the Humber Light Vessel in a south easterly violent storm with snow and heavy breaking seas on 13/14 December 1981.
The crew of the Humber lifeboat, their families and Paul Berriff who filmed the popular BBC television documentary series Lifeboat were presented with RNLI public relations awards by the Deputy Director at Spurn Point lifeboat station on 9 February. The PR awards are given in recognition of valuable service in the field of public relations.
A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan, Second Coxswain Dennis Bailey, Mechanic Richard White, Assistant Mechanic Peter Thorpe and crew members Jack Essex and David Cape for the service on 15 January, when a seriously ill man was transferred to the lifeboat from the Greek Tanker Kithnos, 14 miles north east of Spurn Point in sub-zero temperatures, snow showers, a north-easterly gale and rough seas and took him to the shelter of Spurn Bight where a helicopter conveyed him to hospital.
Second Coxswain Dennis Bailey was also awarded a Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution in recognition of his actions when boarding the tanker and administering morphine to the sick man who was suffering from severe nasal bleeding.
A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institutition was awarded to Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan, Second Coxswain Robert White, Mechanic Peter Thorpe, Assistant Mechanic Leslie Roberts and crew members Sydney Rollinson, David Steenvoorden and Christopher Barnes for the service on 15 February when the lifeboat Kenneth Thelwall rescued the crew of four and saved the fishing vessel Eventide, which had suffered steering failure 12 miles east of Spurn Point in a Force 8-9 Gale, very rough seas and a swell of 6-7 metres.
The stations new Severn class lifeboat ON1216 Pride of Humber was placed on service April 1997. The Lifeboat was provided by Humber Lifeboat Appeal 1994 and 1995, the fundraising activities of North East region volunteers and the bequests of Miss Lucy Chandley, Miss Margery Ivory Hooton, Mrs Mary Elizabeth Self together with other legacies.
Superintendent Coxswain Brian Bevan was awarded the MBE in the Birthday Honours List. It was formally presented at Buckingham Palace.
Coxswain Superintendent Brian Bevan retired on 22 November after 35 Years as a lifeboat man, 26 of which as Coxswain Superintendent at Humber.
The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Acting Coxswain Superintendent David Steenvoorden for his leadership and seamanship when the fishing vessel Dolland and her crew of two were saved on 26 February 2004. This was a joint service with the Cleethorpes D class ILB and was carried out in north westerly Force 8 winds, often gusting higher, and heavy snow squalls. The D class crew received one Silver and three Bronze Medals for their actions.
A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to Superintendent Coxswain David Steenvoorden in recognition of his seamanship and leadership when the relief Severn class lifeboat The Will saved three people and the fishing vessel Sorrento in appalling weather condition on 11 January 2005.
The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Superintendant Coxswain David Steenvoorden in recognition of his leadership, exemplary boathandling and determination during a service on 12 August 2006 when the yacht Molly Louise and one of her crew were saved. A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Admiral Sir Jock Slater was awarded to Assistant Mechanic Daniel Atkinson who was one of two lifeboat crew members who were put aboard the yacht, to establish a tow. This was a long service conducted in poor sea and weather conditions.
The Trustees voted the award of a 200 year anniversary Vellum to the station in 2010.
A collective framed letter of appreciation signed by the Chairman on the Institution was awarded to both Coxswain David Steenvoorden and crew member Stephen Purvis for their swift actions on the evening of 27 November 2011. Using the station Land Rover they saved a woman’s life. She was stranded in her car on the road to Spurn Point in force 6 winds and waves which were breaking up the road surface. Having parked, they battled the extreme weather and were struck several times by breaking waves to reach the car and pull her free. By this time the Land Rover, which had been parked next to a sand dune for protection, was now stuck in the collapsed sand dune. After many attempts David, who was driving, managed to break free and drove them to safety.
WAR RECORD 1939-1945
Launches on service 73
The men of Humber have been awarded 33 medals, three Gold, 13 Silver, 17 Bronze and a George Medal. Of these medals two Gold, three Silver and two Bronze were won by the Coxswain, Robert Cross together with the George Medal. The last medal was voted in 1982.