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The Community Website for Walmer, near Deal, Kent

Walmer's Past
Walmer Lifeboat Station
A member of the Walmer Lifeboat crew since 2006, Colin Varrall also enjoys researching various aspects of the local area's history. Here he traces how Walmer acquired its Lifeboat Station...
In 1856 an Appeal was made by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to help raise money to establish a Lifeboat Station at Walmer. On 5th June 1856 a meeting was held by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Committee of Management and it was formally decided that a Lifeboat Station should be established at Walmer.

A site for a wooden boathouse was provided by Mr. Frederick Leath and cost £186.11s.1d to house a 10-oared self-righting lifeboat that was built by Forrest of Limehouse. The new lifeboat arrived at Walmer in November 1856 and was named the Royal Thames Yacht Club.

The name was given to the lifeboat following the Appeal when a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club offered to contribute half the cost of the new lifeboat at Walmer, so long as the other members of the club raised the remainder of the money. The new lifeboat was first launched on service on 5th January 1856, to rescue 13 crew and two local boatmen from the barque Reliance that had become wrecked in rough seas and a severe gale, along with heavy snow, off Walmer. It sometimes proved difficult for the Walmer lifeboat to reach a wrecked vessel depending on the direction of the wind and tide.

Walmer lifeboat: "Civil Service" Walmer lifeboat house
The lifeboat Civil Service
- a gift of the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund
An early view of the boathouse - built in 1871.

On 15th February 1865 a new lifeboat was sailed from London to Deal by her new Coxswain Robert Wilds and was christened Van Kook. This new lifeboat would be stationed at North Deal. To help provide additional lifeboat cover for the Goodwin Sands it was decided by the RNLI Committee of Management on 6th July 1865 to open a Lifeboat Station at Kingsdown, with a lifeboat christened Sabrina finally arriving on station in 1866.

A new 12-oared self-righter lifeboat arrived at Walmer in October 1871, built by Forrest and cost £342. This new Walmer lifeboat was provided out of an anonymous gift and was christened Centurion. A new brick boathouse was built 70 yards to the south of the original wooden boathouse to accommodate Centurion. The old wooden boathouse was dismantled and re-erected at North Deal, near to Sandown Castle.

Walmer lifeboat house in 1938 Walmer lifeboat house
The lifeboat station in 1938 with St Saviour's beyond. Walmer lifeboat station - today.
The existing stone building at Walmer is of a Neo-Gothic architectural style and appears very similar to St Saviour's Church, which stands directly opposite along The Strand in the Conservation Area of Lower Walmer. The fountain that is positioned on the front driveway to Walmer lifeboat station was placed there in 1882 as a gift by Catharine Brooke. Walmer ceased to be an All-weather lifeboat station in 1990, with the departure of the Hampshire Rose. An extension was made to the building in 1990 to accommodate an Atlantic 21 lifeboat, with its carriage and tractor. The extension was opened by Major General Castle. In 2006, Walmer lifeboat station celebrated its 150th anniversary and also saw the arrival of two new inshore lifeboats, an Atlantic 85 lifeboat Donald McLauchlan and a smaller D-Class rigid inflatable lifeboat Duggie Rodband.
Links to more about Walmer Lifeboat For more on the history of the Walmer Lifeboat Station,
see www.walmer-lifeboat.org.uk/history.htm
For a list of Walmer's lifeboats - past and present - CLICK HERE
A Day in the Life of Walmer Lifeboat (Deal Today magazine article on DealWeb) www.dealweb.org.uk/history-deal/lifeboat1.html
To return to the History menu CLICK HERE

      This page was updated on November 18, 2014