Station history

The station was established in 1800 and taken over by the Institution in 1865.  Since then, owing to difficulty in obtaining a really suitable site, there have been at various times seven different stations.  Between 1873 and 1887 Sunderland had four stations at the same time, but the motor lifeboat station, established in 1912, is now the only existing one.

1856

Silver Medal awarded to Joseph Hodgson a carver of Sunderland, in testimony of his extraordinary exertions which extended over a period of 12 years in saving life.  He had personally rescued 10 people from drowning and had assisted in lifeboats and other boats in saving about 17 others.

1858

Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain W Davison for long service.

1865

Lifeboat supplied by the Institution at the request of the local seamen.

1871

Institution took over local lifeboat society.  The society had two serviceable and comparatively new lifeboats and a third lifeboat afloat in the South Dock and £150 in hand.

1875

In October the lifeboat was damaged by striking the rocks on returning from a service to the ss Altonia of Hamburg and only reached the shore with the greatest difficulty.

1882

An accidental gas explosion wrecked the watch house of the number three lifeboat house.  The coxswain had both legs broken and a Mr Briggs had to have a foot amputated.

1883

Watch house rebuilt at a cost of £80.

1891

The Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain R Thompson for general services.

1895

New slipway constructed at South Outlet Station.

1897

Committee of Management decided to form an additional station at Hendon Beach.

Gas service provided to South Outlet boathouse.

Crew received £50 for a service on 2 March to ss Jocinth when 11 people were rescued.  The money was given by the donor of the lifeboat Mr J Coppin, to the crew the first time life was saved at the imminent peril of their own lives.

1898

Local tug owners agreed to tow lifeboat to sea and back for £7 10 0d.

1899

New lifeboathouse and slipway constructed at a cost of £1,050.

1905

The South Outlet lifeboat house was destroyed by fire on 25 July.  The house had been built in 1871 at a cost of £450.

1910

A grant of £5 was made by the Finance Committee on 7 June 1910 following the death of John Davison (spelt in some documents as Davidson), after running to the lifeboat house in anticipation of a launch on 11 May.

1911

Sunderland's first motor lifeboat, the J McConnell Hussey which had previously been stationed at Folkestone and Tynemouth, is of historic interest, for she was the first experimental motor lifeboat in the Institution's fleet.  She was built originally in 1893 as a pulling and sailing lifeboat of the self-righting type, being a gift of Miss Curling of London.  The boat was 38ft x 8ft.  In 1904 she was converted into a motor lifeboat, being fitted with a 12 hp Fay & Bowen two-cycle motor.  This motor gave her a speed of six knots.  She served at Sunderland from 1911 to 1914, being launched on service six times and rescuing three lives.

1912

South Outlet and Hendon Beach Stations closed.

1915

New lifeboat house and slipway on a piled structure constructed at a cost of £2,000.

1928

1953

150th year commemorative Vellum presented to station.

1966

D class lifeboat sent to station in May.

1984

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman Michael A Tighe and a Vellum Service Certificate awarded to crew member Alan Dixon when they rescued a man together with sailboard in difficulties near Sunderland outer piers in a strong northerly gale and very rough sea on 4 November.

1987

A Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was sent  to Coxswain Anthony Lee for his vigilance and determination in cold, wet and rough conditions on the night of 6 March when he rescued two men from the missing fishing vessel Sea Fox after a four hour search.

1990

Watson class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Waveney.

1994

New D class lifeboat D470 placed on service on 7 September.

1995

Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Sir Michael Vernon were awarded to crew members David Graham, Gerard McGill and Ian Donkin for the service on 4 August when the D class lifeboat rescued three boys stranded on a ledge half way up the cliff in a small cove to the west of Marsden Rock.  Various methods of approach were attempted but were abandoned because of the heavy breaking swell.  The lifeboat was successfully beached around Marsden Rocks and the three boys were taken around the base of the cliff by the lifeboat crew and handed into the care of the coastguard and the cliff rescue team.

1997

New Trent class lifeboat placed on service on 28 March.

1998

New boathouse for D class lifeboat completed in May.

1999

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman was sent to Helmsman Michael Cowe and to crew members Martin Barry and Brian Clark-Barkess for a service on 20 December 1998.  The inshore lifeboat launched into a north westerly Force 6 wind and heavy breaking surf to search for a fisherman who had been swept into the sea at Hendon Tanks.  With the assistance of the all weather boat and a police helicopter, the man was located in a particularly difficult position less than half a cable from the curving sea wall, which resulted in the 16 feet north easterly swell being reflected back on to the lifeboat.  It took the combined efforts of all three lifeboat men to get the man into the boat and the successful outcome of this service was the result of exemplary teamwork, determination and seamanship.

2000

A Bi-centenary Vellum presented to station

2002

A new launching ramp completed in July at a cost of £8,807.

2004

At the Trustee Committee Meeting held on 7 July the recommendations from the recent Coast Review visits were discussed and it was resolved that the Trent class all weather lifeboat be withdrawn and replaced by a B class inshore lifeboat to work alongside the existing station D class inshore lifeboat.

The new station Atlantic 75, B class lifeboat, B-794 Vera Skilton was placed on service on 16 August.

2007

The new Atlantic 85, B class lifeboat, B-817 Wolseley was placed on service on Sunday 20 May.  Lifeboat B-762 has been withdrawn to the relief fleet.

2008

New FIB1 facilities completed in January at a cost of £242,000.

2011

The new D class lifeboat, D747 Myjo, funded by the legacy of Mrs Marjorie Florence Gallon named in memory of her late husband, was placed on service 8 November 2011.

MEDAL RECORD

Three Silver Medals have been awarded, the last being voted in 1891.