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Retired Dover Coxswain Tony Hawkins on the 200 Voices podcast
200 Voices an RNLI podcast

‘People were still in their seats, and there was nothing underneath them’

Episode 135 – Dover Disaster: Tony Hawkins

When a cross-channel hovercraft with hundreds of passengers onboard crashed into the breakwater in Dover, the RNLI launched to the rescue

On the 30 March 1985, Dover RNLI Coxswain Tony Hawkins was in the bath when the maroons were fired. He leapt out of the bath to go to the aid of those aboard cross-channel hovercraft, the Princess Margaret, which had collided with the breakwater on entering the harbour.

Tony, now Boathouse Manager at Dover RNLI, recalls how the hovercraft had a hole ripped into its side and that hundreds of passengers needed to be urgently rescued. Some were seriously injured, others were pulled from the waves suffering from cold and shock, and others still were sadly missing.

The interview with Tony was recorded by photographer Jack Lowe, whose exhibition ‘Women of the RNLI’ will be open at the National Maritime Museum, London, 2 March–1 December 2024, to mark 200 years of the RNLI.

Interview by Jack Lowe of The Lifeboat Station Project