Thursday, 18 January 2007

Aren't we lucky?

It is only natural to complain and find fault in things. Lifeboatmen are no different. As a breed we are very critical of our equipment. And rightly so. The RNLI commits to its fundraisers to equip us with the very best kit that money can buy. We make sure they achieve this. Frequently crew will discuss the finer points of the materials that our superb MUSTO oilskins are made from, pass comment on small design details of a GECKO helmet or bemoan the new boots we have been supplied with. Spare a thought for the guys in this photograph. Clearly available PPE in the mid 50's consisted of a stout pair of gum-boots, wooly-pully, flat-cap, tweed coat and as much baccy as could fit in your pipe. And yet they achieved all that we do. Capable men in capable boats.

Robert Charles Brown (after whom our present boat is named) is pictured fourth from the left in the front row. The boat behind is I believe the R.L.P., a motor lifeboat but with a mast too. In 1970 Coxswain Ron Hardy was awarded a Bronze medal from the Institution for commanding a rescue on the R.L.P. where a youth was rescued from the mouth of a cave in confused seas using the lifeboat's dinghy on the end of a piece of rope. All done in a sou-wester and traditional oilskins........not a drysuit or crash-helmet in sight. These men are an example to us today.


Anonymous said...

John, I'd be very interested finding out more about RNLI history. More specifically, my grandfather was the last survivor that manned the rowing lifeboat at Porth Dinllaen. I have tried searching for details using libraries before, but got nothing. I've just contacted the Porth Dinllaen website to see what records they have access to, but if you know of any good resources for doing this kind of search, I'd be very grateful. Perhaps it would make a good blog article?

lifeboatjohn said...

Unfortunately the RNLI history is a bit disjointed as you would imagine. However, recently a 'Heritage Trust' was created to help archive and protect the historical collections from both headquarters and stations, it's not perfect though. The archive at headquarters can be visited to view the library, objects by arrangement. Try contacting the stion direct, if they can't help then I would suggest trying the archive on 01202 662228 or try looking at their website at:

for other information. Good luck!


Unknown said...

There's a couple of quite good books about the RNLI - I don't know if they have the story of your grandfather in them though.

One is called "Never turn back: The RNLI since the second world war"

The best book I have about the RNLI is called "Riders of the Storm: The story of the Royal National Lifeboat Instition" it is very details and goes back to the very origins of the RNLI.

The DVD called "The History of the RNLI - Heros of the sea" is quite interesting as well. It seems to be based on the previously mentioned book.

I was researching some details recently that concerned Skegness lifeboat. I contacted them directly by email and the Cox rang me back the next day - we had a good chat and I got all the details I wanted. They seemed to keep very thorough records.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John and Dan for the info - I'm sure it'll help me a lot.