All Welcome as Hunstanton RNLI Celebrate their 200th Anniversary

All Welcome as Hunstanton RNLI Celebrate their 200th Anniversary

Hunstanton RNLI are celebrating their 200 year anniversary at their lifeboat station on Friday, 28th June (6pm to 9pm).

Everyone is invited down to their station in Old Hunstanton to enjoy this historic event.

The first lifeboat station to be established in Hunstanton was formed by the Norfolk Shipwreck Association in 1824. In 1867 the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI) took over its running, building a new station close to the, by now, demolished original at a cost of £150 (over £20,000 in today’s money). The first lifeboat was called the Licensed Victualler. In 1868 the lifeboat capsized, fortunately, without loss of life. In total she was launched 21 times, saving 86 lives. In 1900 the station was allocated a new, larger lifeboat necessitating a bigger boathouse. Land was acquired from the local Lord of the Manor - Henry Styleman Le-Strange - to build the new facility which included a watch room and concrete runway. The old station house was put to use as a beach shop and café, which it still is to this day. Charles le Strange Meakin is the present president of Hunstanton RNLI.

WEB lifeboat Chris Bishop

In 1922, the station was the first to trial tractors to launch lifeboats. However, as the Hunstanton lifeboat was launched only infrequently during the 1920s, the station was officially closed in 1931, with lifeboats stationed at Skegness and Wells-next-the-Sea deemed sufficient to cover the coast of Hunstanton and The Wash. After an increase in marine incidents during the 1970s, it became clear a lifeboat service was required in Hunstanton and the station was re-opened in 1979. It is unique as it is the only lifeboat station on the east coast that faces westward. The present lifeboat is the Spirit of West Norfolk, whilst the station also houses the Hunstanton Flyer hovercraft which is more suited to inshore and mudflat rescues.

In 1981 the RSPCA awarded the crew a Certificate of Merit for the rescue of a dog from a speedboat who’s pilot had fallen overboard and been taken to hospital whilst the speedboat continued to circle at full throttle. In the 1980’s, Helmsman Alan Clarke, was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Second-Service Clasp to the Bronze Medal for two acts of courage and bravery, the first involving the rescue of a man in difficulty off the wreck at Brancaster in gale force winds, whilst the second involved rescuing an injured fisherman in steep seas and total darkness in The Wash. In 2004, Lifeboat Operations manager, David Harrison, was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen. More recently, Charlie Parfitt became the first female RNLI hovercraft commander.

WEB Hovercraft

All the crews and volunteers who help run the operation are voluntary roles, with crews providing a 24 hour search and rescue service, 365 days a year. The RNLI is almost entirely reliant on donations. The Hunstanton lifeboat can be launched as many times as 50 times a year so the sea requires respect and when things go wrong they can go wrong very quickly. To have the RNLI is invaluable.
On the celebratory evening, an exploration of the station's history will be given by the Norfolk Shipwreck Association, whilst there will also be guest speakers from the crew, both past and present.

WEB Tractor lifeboat

Refreshments will be available throughout the evening.

Thank you to Hunstanton Lifeboat Station for these images.

The Latest News in North-West Norfolk

Old Hunstanton Blooms!