Fifty years ago this week Margate’s new RNLI inshore lifeboat carried out its first service call. The arrival of this new lifeboat was to greatly enhance the local rescue service and save over 500 lives over the next half-century.
In 1966 the RNLI was introducing fast rapid-response Inshore Rescue Boats (as they were known then) and given the town’s popularity with bathers and users of small recreational craft Margate was an obvious choice to receive what at the time was a revolutionary development for the RNLI. The IRB supplemented the larger offshore lifeboat and the provision of the two vessels has proved to be the ideal combination to serve the local seafaring community since.
The first call for ‘D99’ came on 19 June 1966 when early in the morning, while setting out for a day’s fishing the lifeboat coxswain Alf Manning sighted a yacht aground on the Nayland Rock. The two occupants stated they would need assistance refloating when the tide flooded and shortly after, the IRB set out on its first rescue mission, crewed by Alf Lacey (station mechanic) and Albert Scott (assistant mechanic). The lifeboat assisted the yacht in refloating on the rising tide.
Les Manning was one of the original members of the crew of the new lifeboat and remembers those early days which were a lot different to the modern set-up: “Compared to the modern inshore lifeboat, fifty-years ago things were a little more basic. The lifeboat carried a crew of just two [compared to three now] and the protective clothing was very basic. Comparing with the modern drysuits and PPE worn today we reminisce by telling today’s crew that we used to wear bin liners!
“There was also no radio on board in those days so we carried a supply of coins and would go ashore and ring the coastguard for updates if we could not locate the casualty.”
Paul Hodson, Margate Lifeboat Operations Manager said: “The arrival of the inshore lifeboat greatly enhanced the service the station was able to offer. The combination of the fast rapid-response ILB for calls close inshore along with the larger all-weather lifeboat for more difficult rescue missions has proved to be the ideal combination for the profile of the rescue requirement at Margate and one the RNLI has continued with for half a century and are planning to continue with into the future with the replacement of the Mersey class lifeboat with a new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat.”
Note: To date the four inshore lifeboats that have served at Margate have launched on 1,332 occasions, landed or brought in 980 people and saved the lives of 509 people.
RNLI media contacts
- Peter Barker, RNLI Margate Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer
- Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Oxley, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East)
For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.