Salcombe RNLI celebrates 150 years of protecting our county's coast
PUBLISHED: 10:57 17 September 2019
AMELIA THURSTON reflects on 150 years of the RNLI saving lives in Salcombe
This is a big year for the RNLI in Salcombe, as the charity celebrates 150 years of saving local lives at sea.
In September 1869, the first Salcombe Lifeboat, The Rescue, was launched at Dodbrooke Quay, Kingsbridge and rowed to her new home at South Sands.
The Earl of Devon presented the site for a boathouse at South Sands for Salcombe RNLI and The High Sherriff of Devon, Richard Durant Esq, provided the funds for both the lifeboat and the building.
For 52 years, the lifeboat was stationed at South Sands, approximately 1.5 miles from Salcombe. Every time the maroon was fired to signal the lifeboat was needed, the crew would leave their families and run the challenging route along the coast path to the lifeboat station, before readying the boat for service and rowing her out to sea.
Sixteen members of Salcombe RNLI crew re¬enacted this run for the public in June this year, rowing two gigs, provided by Salcombe Estuary Rowing Club, back to Salcombe.
Salcombe RNLI Coxswain, Chris Winzar, says: "The crew of the lifeboat 150 years ago were certainly fit and had to stay that way, running to the lifeboat station before launching the boat and rowing out to sea in often challenging conditions off the beach.
"It's amazing to think how much has changed and how fortunate we are now; responding to emergencies in a modern, fast lifeboat with fantastic kit from a central boathouse focal point."
Since then, the brave volunteers and their lifeboats have launched on service over 1,600 times, saved nearly 500 lives and brought a further 1,350 people to safety.
The culmination of the Salcombe 150th anniversary celebrations takes place across the weekend of 20¬22 September with a Lifeboat Festival, which will include the Yellow Welly Big Bash at Salcombe Rugby Club (6¬11pm).
The history of the lifeboat station has been brought to life in a new book written by Salcombe Lifeboat Museum Curator, Roger Barrett, and published by the RNLI. The book is available from the Salcombe Lifeboat Shop or by emailing email@example.com.
A 30¬minute documentary produced and directed by Chris Tizzard will also be released in the spring.
Celebrations earlier in the year have included fundraising events featuring well¬known chef Prue Leith, a display of nine historic lifeboats alongside Normandy pontoon, regatta weeks, and lifeboat tours.
Commemorative washbag by crew member
Salcombe¬based Will Bees Bespoke, makers of unique British goods, has launched a hand¬crafted, commemorative wash bag to celebrate 150 years of the Salcombe RNLI lifeboat station.
Co¬Owner of Will Bees Bespoke, James Marshall, is himself one of 34 volunteers at Salcombe RNLI who are on call 24/7. With 10% of all proceeds being donated to Salcombe RNLI, every purchase of the limited edition bag will help save lives at sea.
The wash bags are made from hard¬wearing tarpaulin and can be personalised with complimentary contrast lettering of choice.