Newcastle's station history


Thirty Medals for gallantry have been awarded, four Gold, 19 Silver and seven Bronze, the last being voted in 1942.

A station was established in 1825 at Rossglass under the auspices of the Co Down District Association of the Institution. The lifeboat was moved to St John’s Point Coastguard Station where it remained until 1843. There was no lifeboat then in Dundrum Bay until the Institution placed one at Newcastle in 1854 following numerous wrecks (including the stranding of the Great Britian in 1846). The Earl of Annesley MP paid for the boathouse.


Silver Medal awarded to Thomas Foy, Master of the Rossglass lifeboat, for putting out in a fishing boat with four men and rescuing five of the 11 crew of the vessel Usk that was wrecked in a violent weather off Rossglass on 2 December 1825.

Gold Medal awarded to Captain Morris and Silver Medal to Alexander Douglas who swam through the surf in an effort to save life when the barque Richard Pope was driven ashore in a strong south-south-easterly gale with tremendous surf.  Led by Captain J R Morris RN, Coastguard Officer, an unsuccessful effort was made to reach the vessel.  Another boat also tried and failed.  A boat then put off from the vessel but was upset with the loss of four of her five occupants.  That morning two boats reached the vessel and rescued 10 men.


Silver Medals awarded to John Phillips and Michael Casey for the rescue of 15 people from the ship Sir James Kempt that was wrecked in Dundrum Bay on 4 December 1829.


Silver Medals awarded to John Strains, Chief Officer of Coastguard, William Hogg, William Adair, Captain P R Browne and Mr J Adam for the rescue of 25 of the crew of the ship Coeur de Lion of Liverpool that was driven ashore in stormy weather in Dundrum Bay on 11 September. Five seamen were drowned and also two boatmen, Patrick Goolaghan and George Starkey. Committee of Management granted £10 to the widow of Goolaghan and £5 to relatives of Starkey.


Gold Medal awarded to Captain Philip R Browne and monetary awards made to others who assisted in the rescue of three crew of the schooner Bloom which was wrecked at St John’s Point, Dundrum Bay, on 23 October. The rescue was effected by means of rope. Unfortunately the other three members of the crew were lost.


Gold Medal awarded to Lt H F Sewell RN, coastguard, and Silver Medal to George MacDonald for rescuing the crew of the smack Sarah that went aground and sank in Dundrum Bay on 21 September.


Silver Medal awarded to James Taylor for the rescue of six crew from the rigging of the brig Frolic that was wrecked in Dundrum Bay on 17 January.


Silver Medal awarded to Chief Boatman James McCarthy for rescuing the three crew of the schooner Martha Grace of Maryport, wrecked on Dundrum Bar, during easterly gale force winds on 12 November. Two attempts in different boats were made by the same men to save the crew.


Silver Medal awarded to Henry Boyd for rescuing, after three attempts in his fishing boat, the crew of eight of the brig Water Lily of Dublin, which was wrecked in Dundrum Bay on 9 December 1859.

Silver Medal awarded to Captain G A E Ridge RN, inspecting commander of coastguard, for wading into the surf at the risk of his life to the rescue of a man from an upset boat on 14 December 1859.


Silver Medals awarded to Captain C Grey Jones, second assistant inspector of lifeboats and Coxswain James Hill, for the rescue of four out of five of the crew of the schooner Rose wrecked in Dundrum Bay during a south-easterly gale and heavy seas on 26 February.


Silver Medal awarded to Commander O S Cameron RN for rescuing, at great personal risk, the crew of four of the brig Fame of Maryport that was wrecked off Newcastle during a stormy south-easterly wind and very heavy seas on 3 December 1876.


New lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £425.  A fence surround was provided at a cost of £45.


Set of launching poles supplied.


French Government awarded Coxswain Foland a Gold Medal in recognition of the services to French Barque Cannebiere on 15 March 1905 when 10 people were rescued.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Patrick Murphy for a service to the motor vessel Hoperidge in a blinding snowstorm, easterly gale and very rough sea, on 19 January, when a doctor and orderly were taken out.  This service was very skilfully carried out in very severe weather.

Bronze Medal Second-Service clasp awarded to Coxswain Patrick Murphy and Bronze Medal to Mechanic Robert Agnew for the rescue of 14 men from the motor vessel Sandhill which had been badly damaged by a mine off the English coast and had been carried across the Irish sea by the gale.  The rescue on 28 January was very difficult and was very skilfully carried out in severe weather.  


Gold Medal awarded to Coxswain Patrick Murphy, Silver Medals to Second Coxswain William Murphy and Mechanic Robert Agnew and Bronze Medals to William Leneghan, Thomas McClelland, Patrick McClelland and Patrick Rooney for the rescue of 39 people from the Browning, one of seven ships of a convoy, that had run ashore on 21 January in a south-easterly gale with very heavy sleet and rain. It was a service of the greatest hazards in which the coxswain showed reckless daring, great coolness, and superb seamanship. The British Empire Medal was also awarded to Coxswain Murphy for this service.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Patrick McClelland in recognition of his skill and seamanship when the lifeboat rescued the crew of four of the fishing boat Georgina Hutton which sank at the entrance to the Dundrum River in a fresh south-south-westerly wind and a rough sea in the darkness of the night of 10 November. The skipper of the fishing boat was French, and the French Consul in Belfast expressed thanks on his own behalf and on behalf of the French Government.


Royal Human Society bravery award made to Motor Mechanic Gerald Murphy for saving the life of a boy who fell into deep water in Newcastle Harbour in June.


A celebration 150th Anniversary Vellum awarded to the station.


New launching facilities, including a concrete slipway and ramp, were carried out by Sir M MacDonald Associates acting on behalf of Down District Council and to which the Institution made a contribution of £17,500.


A new boathouse and slipway was completed in August to accommodate the station’s new Mersey class lifeboat. This was built on the site of the tractor house and coastguard hut. The old boathouse was insufficient size to house both the new lifeboat and launching tractor.

The new Mersey class lifeboat ON1188 Eleanor and Bryant Girling was placed on service 11 August 1993. This lifeboat was funded by the bequest of Eleanor Bertha Girling. The Oakley class lifeboat has been withdrawn.


A D class lifeboat sent to station for one season’s operational evaluation as of 24 January.


Summer only D class lifeboat permanently established as of 8 April.

New D class lifeboat D-478 placed on service on 19 May.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Helmsman John Lowry and Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution were awarded to crew members Mark Poland and Brendan Rooney when four people who were fishing had slipped off rocks at Maggy’s Leap, approximately half a mile from the lifeboat station, in Force 6 to 7 winds and refracted swell on 16 August. There were in fact five people in the sea, as a Mr Ian Williamson had entered the water to assist one of the anglers who was drowning. Three people were taken on board the inshore lifeboat and carried to the Newcastle ALB, which had also launched and was stopped half a cable away. The ILB then returned for the last two people. Once ashore at the lifeboat station first aid was rendered until the casualties were evacuated to hospital. Mr Ian Williamson also received A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution for his part in this service.


Station temporarily closed 27 September. ALB went back on service on 30 October.


A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Admiral Sir Jock Slater was presented to the station in recognition of the efforts made to search for a teenage boy who had fallen into the sea at Killough on 11 January 2004. The letter recognised not only the search efforts by those who crewed the inshore lifeboat but also the support and assistance rendered over two days by shore helpers and station officials.

The new station D class lifeboat D-637 Aldergrove II was placed on service 11 April 2005. This lifeboat was funded by RAF Aldergrove.


Boathouse Manager Hugh Paul has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Years Honours List. Member, Order of the British Empire.


For services to the Institution, Coxswain John Francis Morgan has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen in the recent Birthday Honours; - Member, Order of the British Empire (MBE).


The new station D-class lifeboat D-775 Eliza was placed on station 3 December 2014. This lifeboat was funded by the generous bequest of Mrs Mary Olga Illingworth in memory of her mother.  Lifeboat D-637 Aldergrove II has been withdrawn.