Wells' Station history


Three Medals have been awarded to the station, one Silver and two Bronze.

In 1830 the station was established by the Norfolk Shipwreck Association and a boathouse was built at the west side of the entrance to wells harbour. This lifeboat station was taken over in 1869 by the Institution, as vessels frequently ran aground on the outlying sands which surrounded the port.


Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £300. Eliza Adams begins service.


In August 1872 the lifeboat rescued the Hon T Walpole MP for North Norfolk, and seven others, when their yacht got into difficulties.


Slipway constructed at a cost of £30.

On 29 October the lifeboat Eliza Adams capsized when returning to shore after a service launch. Eleven out of her crew of 13 were drowned, leaving 10 widows and 27 children. They were Francis Abel, John Elsdon, Robert William Elsdon, William Field, Williams Green, Charles Hines, George Jay, Charles Smith, Samuel Smith, John Stacey and William Wordingham. The Institution voted £1,000 towards a fund, raised locally for the dependants and paid the funeral expenses of the men.


Charlotte Nicholls comes into service until 1888.


Baltic (ON198) at a cost of £563 begins service.


Lifeboat house and slipway constructed at a cost of £550 by Mr T Platten. A second Baltic (ON375) begins service.


Wells U.D.C purchased old lifeboat house at a cost of £75.


Committee of Management voted £40 to Benjamin Taylor, a member of the crew who was totally blind caused, it was stated, by a blow to the head received in the lifeboat service in 1884 and two further payments of £20, one in 1900 and the other in 1903.


James Stevens No.8 (ON425) comes to Wells.


Horse launching poles fitted to the carriage.


A third Baltic (ON665) begins service, costing £2,233.


The stations first motor lifeboat was sent to the station; Royal Silver Jubilee (ON780).


Thank of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Coxswain T Neilsen for his gallantry in going aboard a crashed Lancaster bomber on 14 July to search for survivors. One airman was rescued but there was no sign of any other member of the crew as the coxswain hoisted himself on to the edge of the wing and walked along the fuselage. Its top had been blown away and he climbed inside. At any moment the aircraft might have turned and sank and the coxswain would have been trapped inside her.


When the lifeboat was launched on 5 May, it was the first occasion when a motor boat was dropped by an Air Sea Rescue aircraft to aid an air crew in a dinghy.


Cecil Paine (ON850) begins service.


On the night of 5 January, seven German prisoners of war stole a lorry and drove to the lifeboat house, broke open a window and tried to start the engine of the lifeboat but gave up the attempt. The men were arrested when they returned to the lorry.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Coxswain W Cox for the rescue of five of the crew from the SS Zor of Istanbul on 18 May. The wind was northerly, strong to gale with squalls of sleet and hail. The Zor was loaded with timber and as each successive sea hit her the baulks of wood fell from her deck into the sea.


The US Air Force entertained the crew of Wells lifeboat to a dinner in gratitude for the part played in the search for American airmen. A plaque was also presented and fixed in the boathouse.


Bronze Medal awarded to Second Coxswain F Taylor for the rescue of two people from the cabin cruiser Seamu on 18/19 May 1963 in a strong west-north-westerly breeze and rough sea.

An Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) station was established and a D class lifeboat sent to station in June, where it was placed alongside the all weather lifeboat.



Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Coxswain D J Cox for the determination and courage he displayed in attempting to carry out a service to the yacht Kiskadee on 29/30 August. The yacht was aground on a sandbank about half a mile west of Blakeney Point, lying beam on to a confused sea that was washing over her. There was heavy breaking surf and it was a very dark night and, although four attempts were made, the lifeboat was unable to reach the yacht and she stood by while a shore boat took the Kiskadee in tow.


On 28 December the lifeboat was launched to stand by the oil rig Sea Gem and was on service for 21 hours in very severe weather conditions. There was a northerly wind of gale force, a very heavy swell and sleet and rain were falling intermittently during the whole service, which was recognised by the Committee of Management by the granting of additional monetary awards to the coxswain and crew. Ernest Tom Neathercoat (ON982) begins service.


A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to the coxswain and crew for the rescue of a man and a dog from the yacht Kalin on 15 September in a west-north-westerly gale.


Centenary Vellum awarded to station.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Motor Mechanic Albert Court, when on 4 July while ferrying visitors across the harbour channel in his own boat, he went to the aid of five people who were attempting to walk across the channel mouth in a fast flowing flood tide. One of the group, an 11 year old boy who was unable to swim, fell into the water and Mr Court dived into the water fully clothed and wearing sea boots to rescue the boy.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain David Cox in recognition of the determination and excellent seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat proceeded to the help of the motor fishing vessel Pilgrim in tow of the tug Superman when the Pilgrim was in danger of breaking up in a north easterly storm and a very rough sea on 21 October.


The inshore lifeboat house was destroyed in the East Coast gales in January and was rebuilt to form an integral part of the all weather lifeboat house.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain David Cox in recognition of his courage, determination and seamanship when the lifeboat under his command stood by the Rumanian cargo vessel Savinesti which had broken down and lost both her anchors north of the South Race Buoy in an east-north-easterly hurricane, extremely poor visibility due to heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures and a very rough sea on 15 February 1979.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain David Cox in recognition of the courage, determination and seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of four of the motor fishing vessel Sarah-K which was in difficulties with her engine room flooded off Woolpack Buoy in a strong north westerly gale with rough short seas on 20 November 1981.


A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, awarded to Coxswain David Cox BEM in recognition of his resourcefulness during the service on 11 April when the lifeboat stood by inside the bar while the motor fishing vessel Isabelle Kathleen entered harbour and then escorted the tug Dockman, whose radar and compass were unserviceable, to Brancaster in a north easterly storm and heavy seas.


A crew room was built above the inshore lifeboat house with access stairs also forming a boarding and viewing platform for the offshore lifeboat house. The cost of £14,570 was covered by generous donations from the estate of the late Mrs Annie Newson of Bury St Edmunds and Miss M H Mayne of Burnham Market and many other supporters of the Wells station branch.


Major alterations costing £204,000 made to the boathouse to accommodate the new Mersey class lifeboat, Doris M Mann of Ampthill (ON1161).This included the installation of a new main door, the construction of a covered store for the lifeboat refuelling bowser, a new workshop and general store, a souvenir sales outlet and a new concrete slipway.


Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution were awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Graham Walker and Crew Member James Case in recognition of their efforts on 16 October when the lifeboat Doris M Mann of Ampthill rescued the crew of two of the fishing vessel Cerealia and saved the vessel. The vessel was taking in water 6 ½ miles north of the station in winds gusting up to gale force and rough breaking seas.


Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, were awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Graham Walker and Second Coxswain Allen Frary, when the lifeboat Doris M Mann of Ampthill rescued the crew of five and saved the yacht Starlight Speshull on 25 July. The lifeboat was on passage to Wells, when she was diverted to the yacht which had lost her rudder in winds gusting to Force 9, heavy rain squalls and rough seas in the North Hewitt Gas Field. The lifeboat was on service for nearly 14 hours.


New D class lifeboat D-512 was placed on service on 13 November.

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, was awarded to the all-weather lifeboat crew and shore helpers for the service to the fishing vessel Remus with a crew of two that was reported in difficulties on the west bar. The lifeboat proceeded in rough seas and Force 7/8 winds. An attempt to float a line to Remus was unsuccessful. The coxswain decided to drop anchor and called for the station tractor to be brought to the waters edge where Remus had now grounded. A rocket line was fired and hauled in by the shore helpers. Two crew members in the shore party boarded the Remus and secured a tow which was passed by use of the rocket line and illumination from the helicopter. The fishing vessel was taken in tow and the coxswain headed to the west to a gap through the west bar, which was safely negotiated into deeper waters. This service was carried out in darkness, shallow waters and near Gale Force winds on 17 November.

A groyne for the station was completed in February.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to both Coxswain Allen Frary and Second Coxswain Robert Smith for the rescue of the an adult and two children from the yacht “Candy” on 2 September 2000. Coxswain Frary was in command of the all weather lifeboat and Second Coxswain Smith was at the helm of the D class inshore lifeboat in a joint service conducted in rough and difficult waters at the entrance to Wells Harbour.


A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Mr Peter Nicholson, was awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Allen Frary, in recognition of his seamanship, leadership and determination when the lifeboat brought in the Dutch registered sailing vessel Albatros on 26 April 2002, enabling her crew of 11 to be landed. The service was conducted in squally Force 6/7 winds in rough and difficult conditions off the entrance to Wells Harbour, and involved several attempts to establish a tow whilst avoiding the Albatros’ anchor cable.


On 29th October, 125 years after 11 crew members lost their lives when the lifeboat Eliza Adams capsized, eleven roses were laid from the current Wells lifeboat Doris M Mann of Ampthill (ON1161) near the spot where the tragedy occurred. Among those attending the commemoration were families and descendants of those involved.


The new class of lifeboat IB1, D661 Jane Ann III was placed on service on Tuesday 9 January. This lifeboat was generously funded by Mrs J Branford. Lifeboat D-512 has been withdrawn to ILC.

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