The station was established in 1875, mainly for helping the fishing boats which often had to incur great risk in making land in stormy weather. In 1922 the Institution was compelled to close the station as there was considerable difficulty in launching the lifeboat and in finding a crew, owing to the decline of fishing and the shortage of men. When the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries built breakwaters and made a harbour, the fishing industry revived and in 1928 the station was re-opened. The station was closed again in 1938.
In January 1978 an Atlantic 21 Class lifeboat was sent to Staithes for evaluation trials. These trials were successful and it was decided to establish an inshore lifeboat station which became operational from 31 March 1978 and the all weather lifeboat at Runswick Station was withdrawn on 30 June 1978. The station was renamed Staithes and Runswick on the re-opening of the station in March 1978.
In November the lifeboat went out in an unusually heavy sea to help a fishing coble. She was driven back by the seas three times. On the fourth time she reached the coble and rescued her crew of three men. As she was returning to the shore she was struck by a very heavy sea and thrown on her beam ends. Most of the crew in the boat were thrown out of her. Twelve of the men in the water succeeded in regaining the boat and two others swam ashore. Unfortunately one of the lifeboat's own crew, John Crookes, was thrown onto the rocks and killed. The Institution voted £250 to the local fund for the dependant relatives.
The lifeboat stood by some fishing vessels and was beached at Runswick in a bad place, the beach being steep and the tide up. The lifeboat was thrown broadside on by the heavy surf and her crew were washed out, happily without loss of life.
All-weather lifeboat withdrawn and station closed.
The Runswick Head Launcher, George Hanson died after saving a school boy and attempting to save a man in the harbour at Staithes on the evening of 28 August 1957. Mr Hanson had gone into the sea fully clothed from the shore in his rescue attempts. The RNLI made a grant to his widow.
Inshore lifeboat station established in March with the placing on service of an Atlantic 21 lifeboat.
At breakfast time on 2 April the coastguard reported that the 21 foot fishing vessel Nicola Jane with one man on board had broken down off Skinningrove and the pagers were activated. Suddenly, as preparations were being made to launch the Atlantic 21, senior tractor driver John Baxter collapsed and died as a result of a heart attack.
The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman Sean Baxter in recognition of his skill, seamanship and leadership when the lifeboat rescued two people cut off by the tide at the base of Penny Nab in a 2/4 metre swell, a 4 knot tidal stream and shallow water producing confused breaking seas on 10 September 1995. The two people were located on one of a series of rock strewn ledges worn into the base of the 50 metre high cliff. A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman, Sir Michael Vernon was awarded to crew members Iain Baxter, Jason Edison, Martin Hopkinson, David Porritt, Lee Porritt, David Springett and Michael Verrill for the support they gave to the helmsman during this rescue.
The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman David Porritt in recognition of his leadership, seamanship and determination when the lifeboat in darkness rescued two anglers who were trapped at the end of the western breakwater and in danger of being swept away by the heavy breaking seas and winds gusting to Force 7 in the early hours of 3 November 1995. A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Sir Michael Vernon was awarded to crew member Martin Hopkinson in recognition of his courage and determination during this service, when he transferred to the breakwater and despite being knocked over by the seas he reached the two anglers who were sheltering beneath a redundant lighting structure, and guided them back along the breakwater where they were taken off by lifeboat.
Bronze Medal was awarded to Helmsman Stephen Iredale for the rescue of an elderly man from a trimaran on 20 September 2000, at night in breaking seas. The Walter and Elizabeths Groombridge award for 2000, for the most meritorious service by an Atlantic class inshore lifeboat was awarded for this service.
New station B-class B788 Pride of Leicester was placed on service.
Improved facilities completed at a cost of £146,926.