Weymouth RNLI launches its 150th anniversary celebrations

Lifeboats News Release

Weymouth RNLI is celebrating 150 years of lifesaving in 2019 with a host of events to mark the momentous occasion.

RNLI/Ken Francis

Old Weymouth lifeboat

The lifeboat station first opened on 26th January 1869 and the town’s first lifeboat the Agnes Harriet, was named at a ceremony held on the sands in front of a large crowd. A total of 10 lifeboats have since followed and in the station’s 150 year history the lifeboats have launched some 1,700 times and have saved over 800 lives.

The station is holding several events to mark this milestone - the first of which is a crew dinner which is being held on the 26th January 2019, 150 years to the day from when the station opened. This dinner is only for current and past members of the crew and station personnel and will be held at the Crown Hotel.

Members of the public are invited to join the volunteers of Weymouth RNLI at a 150th anniversary party at the Weymouth Pavilion on 22nd March. This is a ticketed event, with the ticket price kept low at £11.50, to open the celebrations up to as many people from the community as possible. Live music will be provided by the popular 10 piece band Soulside who specialise in music from the 60's, 70's and 80's with some contemporary music as well.

As part of the veterans parade on June 23rd there will be a parade of RNLI volunteer crew, station personnel, family, friends and supporters. It is hoped that anyone from the town who has ever had a family member involved with the lifeboat or lifeboat station will come and join in this parade.

Weymouth RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Ken Francis said, 'So for instance, if your Granddad or Great Granddad was on the crew or your Great Uncle or any other relation was one of the volunteers, then they and therefore you, are part of our history and we would love to see you on the parade to help us celebrate all of the 150 years of our existence.’

Then on 28th July, to kick start Lifeboat Week, there will be a Parade of Sail open to all boats of all sizes. Led by Weymouth RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Ernest and Mabel and inshore lifeboat Braemar, the Parade will form near the Pier Bandstand at 10.55am and enter the Harbour at 11am, signalled by the Nothe Fort cannons. The salute will be taken at the landing stage before the Parade turns to port at a pin buoy laid in the Cove; heading back to sea before dispersing. A number of historic lifeboats will be among the huge number of craft from the town and further afield that are expected to join in the parade. After the parade of sail at 3pm there will be a quayside service in which the lifeboats will be blessed.

Clive Edwards, volunteer community safety officer who is coordinating the anniversary celebrations, says he hopes the community will turn out to celebrate their town’s lifeboat history: ‘

History of Weymouth RNLI

In 1868, the Earl of Strafford offered to fund a lifeboat to replace the one that had been at Portland between 1826 and 1851. The offer was accepted and on the 26 January 1869 the lifeboat station was opened and the town's first lifeboat, the Agnes Harriet, was named at a ceremony held on the sands in front of a large crowd.

Ten lifeboats have followed;

1887 Friern Watch

1903 Friern Watch

1924 Samuel Oakes (1st motor lifeboat)

1929 LadyKylsant

1930 William & Clara Ryland

1957 Frank Spiller-Locke

1979 TonyVandervell

1998 Phyl Clare III (1st station ILB)

1999 Robert Edgar

2002 Ernest & Mabel

The early lifeboats at Weymouth were kept in the lifeboat house and launched down a slipway into the harbour when required. In 1924, the Centenary Year of the RNLI, Weymouth received its first motor lifeboat and the lifeboat house was re-built.

The arrival of the motor lifeboat also meant that a mechanic was required for the station. Prior to 1890 the crew were called by ringing a bell; this was replaced by a mortar in 1895. During 1897 arrangements were made locally for a tug to tow the lifeboat out of the harbour when answering a distress call, minimum charge £3 by day, £6 by night.


The RNLI, when considered appropriate, awards medals for outstanding achievements in saving life at sea.

Seven medals have been awarded to members of the Weymouth lifeboat crew, and a further seven to non lifeboat personnel.

The first crew member to be rewarded with a medal was coxswain Fred Palmer in 1948; the next year he, and mechanic James McDermott, were awarded medals.


Crew Member

Medal / Award



Coxswain Fred Palmer


Yacht Mite


Coxswain Fred Palmer


Tug HLS 161


Mechanic James McDermot


Tug HLS 161


Crewman Donald Laker


Yacht Dehra


Coxswain Alfred Pavey


Yacht Nomis


2nd Coxswain Victor Pitman


Yacht Latifa


Coxswain/Mechanic Derek Sargent


Catamaran Sunbeam Chaser

Weymouth RNLI lifeboats are ready 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with a doctor if required, to go to the aid of those who find themselves in danger at sea.

The lifeboats work closely with the coastguards and their helicopter as and when the need arises. Since the lifeboat station opened in 1869 Weymouth lifeboats have launched some 1700 times and have saved over 800 lives.

RNLI/Ken Francis

Old Weymouth lifeboat

RNLI/Ken Francis

Old Weymouth crew photo

RNLI/Ken Francis

Latest Weymouth crew photo

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, in a normal year, 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.