Thursday, 27 December 2007


So, what does a lifeboatman do while on holiday? Well, as it happens, last week I was in Yorkshire (my childhood home) visiting my family. Whilst there I went on several walks with the kids, one to Runswick Bay and one to Staithes. both of them are small fishing villages, Staithes is now part fishing village and part holiday village and part dormitory for Teeside. Runswick is now almost entirely a holiday village with almost no full time residents. Very sad.At 4 a.m. on 1st July, 1978, the people of Runswick Bay stood on the beach to watch their lifeboat put to sea for the last time. After 112 years’ of service to fishermen, sailors and holidaymakers, an era had come to an end. Ultimately it had become too hard to crew the boat with the number of able bodied men available in the village.

The first lifeboat, The Sheffield, had come to Runswick in 1866 and was manned by a crew who had to be able to row for miles in stormy sea. The launching of the boat was a feat in itself: the children placed lanterns on the beach to mark the way then the boat was pushed on rollers to the sea edge by anyone available to help.

Perhaps the most famous rescue occurred in 1901. The men had done out to fish in calm weather but a gale blew up. The lifeboat was needed but the crew and most of the launchers were at sea, so in spite of the harsh weather and strength required, the women and old men of the village launched the boat and stood by until the cobles were safely in.After its withdrawal a new station was opened in Staithes, the next village along the coast (in fact there had previously been a pulling lifeboat here so the station was actually re-opened). As a nod to the sensitivities of the Runswick residents it was named the 'Staithes and Runswick' lifeboat station. Today the RNLI operate an Atlantic class lifeboat from Staithes.

The loss of the Runswick lifeboat, while grounded on sound principles, left many people in Runswick feeling there remained a need for an immediately responsive facility within the village. The number of potential rescue situations, which were invariably “nipped in the bud” by village boatmen, often at some risk to themselves and their boats, reinforced this view. So in 1982 the people of Runswick provided their own craft to go to the aid of locals and holidaymakers. This is now housed in the old tractor shed alongside the lifeboatstation. Meanwhile the lifeboat station itself has become a store for fishing gear and a makeshift holiday cottage. This facility is now known as the 'Runswick Bay Rescue Boat' and each year provides a valuable service to those people in their boats in the bay.


Anonymous said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é . Um abraço.

Mart said...

Hi John

happy new year!!

Not related to this topic, but I wondered if you had seen this video on youtube it is of a Mersey being beech launched in rough weather. Things don't seem to go quite to plan, but the boat and some expert handling seems to pull them through ok.

Anonymous said...

Happy new year to John & family and to all the lifeboat crew
All the very best for 2008 Hope you still thinking of a book!
Take care
Joan & family