The Scarborough Lifeboat Station is one of the oldest stations in the British Isles and was founded in 1801. A lifeboat was built in 1801 at Scarborough from the plans and moulds of Henry Greathead and was supported by voluntary subscriptions and donations. The first service of this boat was on 2 November 1801 when she rescued the crew of seven from the Aurora of Newcastle. The original boathouse was situated near the Mill Beck which ran underneath the present Spa Bridge stands.
With the history of the Scarborough lifeboats, especially the Queensbury’s, one famous name will always be linked – that of John Owston who retired in 1911 after being coxswain for 41 years, 24 of which served in the Queensbury lifeboats. Altogether he took part in the rescue of 230 lives. He won the Silver Medal for gallantry in October 1880, when in the course of 24 hours in very heavy weather the lifeboat was launched five times and rescued every life in danger – 28 in all. In 1902 he was presented by King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, with two silver mounted pipes.
Silver Medals awarded to James Fowler and Smith Tindall for their gallant conduct in the lifeboat when she rescued the crew of seven from the ship Hebe of Sunderland, which was in distress off Scarborough on 11 October 1924.
The lifeboat house was removed to a site near the west pier.
Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Thomas Clayburn, and monetary awards to four other men for the rescue, by means of a small boat, of eight of the crew of the ship Centurion which was wrecked at Osgodby on 9 January 1928.
The second lifeboat built in 1822 by voluntary subscriptions capsized with the loss of 10 of her crew. They were Joseph Allen, Thomas Boyes, John Clayburn, Thomas Cross, John Owston Dale, James Day, Richard Marchman, James Maw, Thomas Walker, Joseph Waugh.
Silver Medal awarded to Henry Wyrill for putting off with five others in his boat and rescuing the crew of five of the brigantine Elizabeth of Sunderland, which was wrecked off Scarborough on 14 November 1856.
The station was taken over by the RNLI.
The first of the Institution’s lifeboats, the Amelia, was put on service. On her first launch on service on 2 November 1861, she was dashed against the Spa Wall while endeavouring to rescue the crew of the schooner Coupland, which was wrecked in the South Bay. Two of the lifeboat crew, John Burton and Thomas Brewster and three spectators, Lord Charles Beauclerk, W Tindall and J Iles, lost their lives attempting to save the lives of others. The Institution gave £25 to the local fund for each of the two members of the crew and awarded posthumous Silver Medals to the three spectators who lost their lives. Silver Medals were also awarded to Michael Hick, Joseph Rutter and Oliver Sarony for their efforts from the shore.
Lifeboat capsized whilst on exercise without loss of life.
Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain John Owston for going out five times in the lifeboat during a severe gale on 28/29 October 1880 and assisting to rescue the crews numbering 28 people, from five different wrecks.
Coxswain J Owston and a member of the crew named Plummer were washed out of the lifeboat whilst on service on 13 December, but were recovered without loss of life.
A Centenary Vellum awarded to station.
A 150th year commemorative Vellum awarded.
When the lifeboat was being hauled up after an exercise on 13 December, the carriage ran over the legs of George Bayes, a 17 year old helper and his right leg was broken.
Lifeboat capsized on service with the loss of three of her crew of eight, Coxswain J Sheader, Second Coxswain John H Cammish and signalman Frank Bayes. Their dependants were pensioned by the Institution. Local fund amounted to £3,900 of which the dependants received £2,100; the balance has been utilised for an insurance on the lives of the Scarborough lifeboat crews, if one or more of the crew lose their lives on service the insurance will pay £1,500 in total.
Memorial plaques were fitted to the window of the south side of the lifeboat house which can be seen from outside and inside and two teak seats, bearing suitable inscriptions, stand on a platform running along the south side of the lifeboat house.
Princess Alexandra paid a private visit to the lifeboathouse and was introduced at her own request to the next-of-kin of those men who lost their lives on service in 1954.
The first of the new 37ft self righting Oakley type lifeboat sent to station.
D class lifeboat sent to the station in April.
A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution sent to each member of the lifeboat crew for standing by the oil rig Neptune I throughout the night of 16/17 November in squalls of up to 90 knots in seas of up to 35 feet. The oil rig had requested a lifeboat in case the crew abandoned the rig.
A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution sent to C J Bean and R Swalwell, who manned the inshore lifeboat on 1 June, when she proceeded on service to the help of a child who had fallen over the cliffs at Gristhorpe. Mr Bean went over the side to clear the area of help while Mr Swalwell rowed the ILB towards the shore. Unfortunately the child was found to be dead on arrival.
Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain William Sheader for a remarkable service in taking the lifeboat in amongst dangerous outcrops of rock and saving a man from the sea after the capsize of the motor boat Sheena on 23 November 1969. The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was awarded to the other members of the crew.
The Maud Smith award for the bravest act of life-saving carried out by a member of a lifeboat crew in 1969 was won jointly by Coxswain Eric Offer of Dun Laoghaire and Coxswain William Sheader of Scarborough.
Boathouse adapted to accommodate the new Mersey class lifeboat. This included the heightening of the main door and the provision of a new fuel storage tank. A side extension to the boathouse was also constructed to provide a souvenir outlet, shore helpers store, a drying room and a workshop.
HRH The Duchess of Kent, named the station’s new Mersey class lifeboat ON1175, the Fanny Victoria Wilkinson and Frank Stubbs at West Pier car park on 9 September. This lifeboat was provided by the bequest of Frank Stubbs.
A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to Helmsman Paul Stonehouse for the way he kept control of the situation in conditions bordering on the operational limits of the D class lifeboat, on the 27 August when the lifeboat rescued four surfboarders in heavy breaking swell reflecting off the sea wall and a north westerly Force 6/7 wind in North Bay.
Relief D class lifeboat D488 capsized whilst on exercise on 9 January.
Bicentenary Vellum awarded to the station in celebration of 200 years of service.
Former Coxswain/Mechanic Richard Constantine awarded an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours in June.
The new lifeboathouse opens in November. The Shannon-class lifeboat Frederick William Plaxton is placed on service in December. It was funded by donations from the FW Plaxton Charitable Trust.
Seventeen medals have been awarded, 13 Silver and four Bronze, the last being voted in 1973.