History of Poole Lifeboat Station: 1939–65


The station’s first motor lifeboat, Thomas Kirk Wright, arrived at the station on 12 January.

Poole Lifeboat  (11)    The lifeboat’s first launch was on 22 January to the motor launch Snapper.

The naming ceremony took place on 17 June 1939.

TKW naming ceremony programme 2 Poole Lifeboat  (18)

She was provided from part of a legacy of TH Kirk Wright of Bournemouth.


The Poole lifeboat Thomas Kirk Wright was one of the Dunkirk Little Ships and was one of 19 lifeboats that went to Dunkirk on 30 May 1940 to rescue the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from the beaches.

She sailed from Poole to Dover with lifeboat crew to join the rescue flotilla. The crew were then asked to return to Poole as there were many naval ratings to do the boathandling.

Photo: Charles Cundall RA - Crown Copyright

Photo: Charles Cundall RA – Crown Copyright

Manned by naval ratings she made three trips to Dunkirk and was used to ferry French and Allied troops from the beaches to waiting warships. She came under fire from German troops and was hit several times but no serious damage was done.

Please visit our Dunkirk spirit section for further information.



Newspaper 1946


Poole and Bournemouth lifeboat station became known as Poole lifeboat station.


The lifeboat launched to a capsized sailing dinghy Stormwind on 2 January and rescued a boy; his father and brother drowned. The widow gave the dinghy, trailer and gear to the RNLI to dispose of. The sale realised £60.


Thomas Kirk Wright was taken away from Poole for a refit at Cowes but she was found to be unsuitable for further lifeboat service. She was bought by Paul Neate, who was a deputy launching authority at Poole lifeboat station, and, with the help of his son, she was taken care of for 12 years.

Poole Lifeboat  (42)A Liverpool class lifeboat, Bassett Green, replaced Thomas Kirk Wright. She was the first lifeboat at Poole to have a radio, MF and VHF, although few other boats at that time had VHF to speak to them. She was kept afloat just off the lifeboat house and boarded by means of a small boat.

A 12′ rubber inflatable rowing dinghy was provided for carrying by the lifeboat when necessary.


D-69 1964An inshore lifeboat station was established alongside the all-weather lifeboat. The inshore rescue boat, a D class, was originally provided as a Summer-season-only lifeboat. She was housed in the lifeboat house at Fisherman’s Dock and was launched using a four-wheeled trolley down the slipway.



A Centenary Vellum was awarded to the station on 24 June. The inshore lifeboat became an all-year-round lifeboat, daytime only.

Click here to read One Hundred Years of Life-Saving At Sea: The Story of the Life-Boat Service at Poole to mark the centenary.