150 years – Lifeboats then and now

Over the past 150 years Poole Lifeboat Station has had 18 lifeboats, ranging from the early pulling (rowing) and sailing lifeboats, through to the first motor lifeboats, the introduction of inshore lifeboats, and today’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats.

Pulling and sailing lifeboats

Originally launched by horses pulling the lifeboat into the sea on a carriage, the pulling and sailing lifeboats had no navigational aids but relied on the local knowledge and seamanship of the lifeboat crews to avoid rocks, sandbanks and find their way in fog and gales.

The first Poole lifeboat was Manley Wood, which was renamed Joseph and Mary, followed by Boy’s Own No 2, City Masonic Club and Harmar, which was the last sailing lifeboat at Poole. The last launch of the sailing era by Harmar  was on 1 June 1938 to the yacht Zaire.

Motor lifeboats (all-weather and intermediate lifeboats)

On 12 January 1939, Poole’s first motor lifeboat arrived at the station. Thomas Kirk Wright was named on 7 June 1939 after TH Kirk Wright of Bournemouth who provided a legacy for the lifeboat.

She served for 23 years until she was replaced by the Liverpool class Bassett Green, which was the first lifeboat at the station to have a radio, MF and VHF, although few other boats at that time had VHF to speak to them.

Bassett Green was then replaced by a succession of relief Liverpool class lifeboats until the new Waveney class lifeboat Augustine Courtauld – one of the first Fast Afloat Boats with a top speed of 15 knots – arrived in 1974.

In 1984, the Waveney class was replaced by the Brede class lifeboat – an intermediate class rather than an all-weather lifeboat. Inner Wheel served the station until 2001 when another all-weather lifeboat, the Tyne class City of Sheffield, arrived at the station on 5 September.

Inshore lifeboats

An inshore lifeboat station was first established alongside the all-weather lifeboat in 1964. The D class was originally provided as a Summer-season-only lifeboat but became an all-year-round lifeboat the following year, but daytime only.

Other inshore lifeboats followed. Alongside the D class, an experimental Hatch class lifeboat was sent to the station but withdrawn a year later. When the Dell Quay Dory arrived, the D class was withdrawn.

After 15 years, the Dell Quay Dory was replaced by an A class Boston Whaler, Sam & Iris Coles, for the next 10 years. Then followed the B class era, firstly with an Atlantic 21 for 12 months, and then the Atlantic 75 Friendly Forester II and the current Atlantic 85 Sgt Bob Martin (Civil Service No 50).

New technologies been used in the development of lifeboats, which has seen the pulling and sailing lifeboats of yesteryear replaced by the more technologically advanced lifeboats of today.

For more detail about the individual lifeboats – the facts and figures, and the number of launches and lives saved – please check out the Past lifeboats page.