Calshot Lifeboat Station
|Calshot Lifeboat Station|
Calshot Lifeboat Station
|Type||RNLI Lifeboat Station|
|Location||Calshot Activity Centre, Calshot, Hampshire, SO45 1BR|
|Owner||Royal National Lifeboat Institution|
|Material||Masonry, Brick, on Concrete Stantions|
Calshot Lifeboat Station is located on Calshot Spit near the village of Calshot, Hampshire, and is on the southern bank of the open end of Southampton Water, on the south coast of England. The station is owned and operated by the RNLI and currently operates two inshore lifeboats. They are an Atlantic 85 called Max Walls (B-860) and a D-class (IB1) called RNLB Willett (D-748).
Up until the 1960s the grounds on which the station is located at Calshot split had been the site of RAF Calshot which was used by the RAF as its main seaplane/flying boat development and training unit in the UK. The base was closed in 1961 and after the RAF had left, Hampshire County Council opened an Education Sea and Land based Activities Centre. The centre was constantly being asked by HM coastguard to use its boats to go out and rescue people in trouble off shore. The administrators of the centre decided that they would contact the RNLI with a view to there being a more formalised rescue service for this busy stretch of water. The RNLI spent a year evaluating this proposition and with a result opened a lifeboat station on the site in 1970.
The first lifeboat
The first lifeboat to be stationed at Calshot was a 40 ft (12 m) Keith Nelson-type lifeboat which had the operation number of 40-001. She was called Ernest William and Elizabeth Ellen Hinde (ON 1017)  and was essentially an experimental GRP constructed lifeboat and she cost £24,559.
RNLB Safeway (ON 1104)
The second lifeboat at the station was the Brede-class  lifeboat called RNLB Safeway (ON 1104). The lifeboat was kept at a moorings just of Calshot Castle. The crew used a davit launched boarding boat when called out on service. She was built for the RNLI by Lochin Marine at Newhaven, East Sussex in 1985. Like the Keith Nelson-type she had a Glass reinforced plastic (GRP) hull and had a watertight GRP cabin which gave the boat a self-righting capability. Funding for the lifeboat came from Safeway stores hence her name "Safeway", and she stayed on service at Calshot until December 2001 when she was withdrawn from service. She was replaced by the former Poole based Brede "Inner Wheel" which was at the station for only a few months before being replaced by an Arun-class boat. The Brede-class lifeboat service was short-lived as the class was not considered to be suitable in rough seas and to stress limitations in the GRP hull.
New shore facilities
In 1996 the RNLI invested further to the stations future by constructing new shore facilities at the station. The building was constructed on concrete stanchions to protect the station from flooding. The Hampshire County Council provided a new boarding jetty for use jointly by the lifeboat station and the Calsholt Activity Centre.
The next lifeboat to arrive at the station had come across the Solent from the Yarmouth station on the Isle of Wight. The Arun-class lifeboat Margaret Russell Fraser (ON 1108) had been stationed there from the RNLI’s relief fleet which she had been a part of since her launch. She arrived in 2002 and stayed until she was replaced in 2004 by another Arun-class called Mabel Williams (ON 1159). In 2003 the station also given its first D-class (IB1) inshore lifeboat from the relief fleet. She was called Marlborough Club (D-407). 2003 also saw improvements made to the station facilities. At the cost of £266,424 an extension was added to the side of the station.
In 2007 the Arun-class lifeboats were withdrawn from the service with one of the last to be withdrawn being the Mabel Williams in February 2007. She was replaced by the Tyne-class Sarah Emily Harrop (ON 1155). This lifeboat stayed at the station until January 2010 when she was withdrawn and placed into the relief fleet. In her place came another Tyne-class called Alexander Coutanche (ON 1157) and she began her service on 21 January 2010.
In 2012 following a meeting of the board of trustees it was decided that Calshot would cease to be an all weather lifeboat station and the Tyne-class lifeboat was withdrawn on 4 April. In its place an Atlantic 85-class inshore lifeboat was sent to the station. The Atlantic 85 would co-locate at the station with the already established D-class (IB1) boat. After improved facilities had been made at the station to accommodate the new lifeboat and its required launch tractor a new lifeboat arrived and the Alexander Coutanche was withdrawn. On 11 July the new Atlantic 85-class Max Walls was placed on the station along with a new New Holland Launch tractor and the Calsholt was officially re-designated as an inshore lifeboat station.
In the evening of 10 January 1976 during force 8 to force 9 winds and a very choppy sea the Keith Nelson type lifeboat Ernest Williams and Elizabeth Hinde was called to service to help a Boston Whaler belonging to Hamble Rescue which had been driven ashore on the saltings. The vessel had been en route from Hamble to Ashlett Creek when her engines failed as she tried to negotiate the Ashlett Creek channel. The lifeboat put to anchor at the mouth of the entrance to the creek and three of the crew took to the lifeboats inflatable boarding boat which they had towed to the service, expecting to have to use the small boat as it was to shallow for the lifeboat. By 11pm the three lifeboatmen located one of the crew and took him to safety ashore. half an hour later they had spotted the other two crewman and the Hamble rescue boat. To reach the vessel the lifeboat men, in freezing temperatures, took turns dragging the small inflatable with its small 6 hp engine, through the marshes, sometimes up to chests in the cold water. Eventually reaching the Hamble boat the two crewmen were taken off which was then piloted back to the main lifeboat with great effort and difficulty. The lifeboat got back to station in the early hours of 30 January. For their part played in the rescue the three lifeboat men, Peter King, Christopher Smith and John Street were all awarded RNLI bronze medals.
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