Independent lifeboats in Britain and Ireland

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Independent lifeboat services in Britain and Ireland began to be established around the coasts towards the end of the 18th century in response to the loss of life at sea. More recently, independent services have been set up in response to the increasing popularity of coastal and river sport and leisure activities.

There are at least 80 (see tables below) and as many as 100[1] independent lifeboat services operating throughout Britain and Ireland, both on coasts and inland waterways. Because the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) owns and operates the majority of lifeboat stations (238 in 2018[2]), smaller independent services can be overshadowed when it comes to publicity and fundraising.[3][4]

Independent services are usually funded privately and some are registered charities; most operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Many currently-independent, RNLI-adopted and lapsed services pre-date the RNLI (founded 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck).

History[edit]

Ruined remains of Formby lifeboat station

The first recorded independent lifeboat service was established in 1776 at Formby, 7 miles south of Southport, where there is still an independent lifeboat service (see table).[5] Many early lifeboat stations were taken under the wing of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution after its foundation in 1824 and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Few early stations retained their independence; some were closed by the RNLI many years after takeover, according to the local needs at the time, and of these some were re-established as independent services, sometimes years later. A few 20th century independent services were started up in response to the rapid increase in popularity and affordability of aquatic sport and leisure activities such as swimming, boating, windsurfing, angling and diving.

It has not been established how many independent lifeboat services there are (2014) because there is no umbrella organisation except for some stations in Ireland and the River Severn area (see table below). All, though, are crewed by volunteers and equipped with boats ranging from retired RNLI lifeboats to state-of-the-art boats paid for by fundraising campaigns.

Independent lifeboat services in Britain and Ireland[edit]

Independent lifeboat services are spread across England, Wales, Scotland,[6] Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.[7] Some are primarily inland rescue services.

Note: Some services appear twice where they cover border areas.

United Kingdom[edit]

England[edit]

Name and location Notes Image
Bay Search and Rescue
Cumbria, England
Operates in Morecambe Bay.[8]
Operates All Terrain Vehicles (Onshore)
Beachley (SARA), River Severn
England and Wales
Operates from under the M48 Severn Bridge.[9] Severn Area rescue Association HQ - geograph.org.uk - 609713.jpg
Birling Gap Safety Boat
East Sussex, England
Established 1984.[10] Birling Gap - geograph.org.uk - 76487.jpg
Blyth Rescue
Northumberland, England
Run by the RNLI until 2005.
Subsequently, independent.[11]
Blyth Lifeboat station (geograph 5085577).jpg
Boulmer Volunteer Rescue Service
Northumberland, England
Originally funded by the Duke of Northumberland.
RNLI-run 1825-1967.
Re-established 1967.[12]
Boulmer Haven - geograph.org.uk - 40312.jpg
Burnham Area Rescue Boat
Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England
Established 1992. Breanrescuehovercraft.JPG
Caister Volunteer Lifeboat Service
Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England
First documented 1791.[13]
Operated by RNLI 1856-1969.
Uses both offshore and inshore lifeboats.
Registered charity.
Caister Lifeboat Station.jpg
Cleethorpes Rescue Service
Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England
Established 1969 as Cleethorpes Vigilantes Inshore Lifeboat Service.
Registered charity.[14]
Cleethorpes Lifeboat Station - geograph.org.uk - 676296.jpg
Coast Medic
Falmouth, Cornwall
Medical inshore lifeboat, supporting local emergency services.
Registered charity.[15]
Duddon Inshore Rescue
Cumbria, England
Established 1969.
Operates on Duddon Estuary.[16]
Felixstowe Coast Patrol
Felixstowe, Suffolk, England
Established 1997.[17][18]
Folkestone Rescue
Folkestone, Kent
Inshore Lifeboat, supporting local emergency services.
Operates April to September, weekend daytime.
Registered Charity[19]
Freshwater Bay Lifeboat
Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England
Opened 1972.[20]
Registered charity.
Freshwater Lifeboat Station, Isle of Wight - geograph.org.uk - 1801173.jpg
Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue
(GAFIRS)
Hampshire, England
Established 1969. IRB station at Stokes Bay - geograph.org.uk - 1145009.jpg
Hamble Lifeboat/Rescue
Hampshire, England
Established 1968.[21]
Haverigg Inshore Rescue Team
Cumbria, England
Established 1973.[22] Haverigg Inshore Rescue station - geograph.org.uk - 643437.jpg
Hayling Island Rescue
Hayling Island, Hampshire
Established 1984.[23][24]
Operates a single RIB (Inshore)
Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service
Norfolk, England
Registered charity.[25] Hemsby Lifeboat Station.jpg
Hope Cove Life Boat
South Hams, Devon, England
Established 1878. RNLI-operated until 1930.
Managed by Maritime Coastguard Agency 1960 - 2010.
Hope Cove Lifeboat Ltd 2010.
Registered charity number 1140126 2011.[26]
Hope Cove lifeboat station.jpg
Hornsea Rescue
East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Established 1994.[27]
Operates 1 x RIB and 1 x Jetski (Inshore)
Hornsea Inshore Rescue depot.jpg
Humber Rescue
Humber Bridge, England
Established 1990.[28] Inshore Rescue Boat Station - geograph.org.uk - 271473.jpg
Lancaster Area Search and Rescue
Lancashire, England
Founded 2018 follow devastating floods in Lancaster Area. The team is affiliated to SLSGB as a Flood Rescue Team.[29]
Maryport Inshore Rescue
Cumbria, England
Operated by the RNLI 1865-1949.
Re-established 1978.[30]
Mercia Inshore Search and Rescue
West Midlands, England
Operates in the Severn, Avon and Wye valleys.[31]
Mundesley Volunteer Inshore Lifeboat
Norfolk, England
Established 1972.[32] Mundesley Lifeboat Station Sunday 21 March 2010 (2).JPG
Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat
East Sussex, England
Operates in Rye bay from Pett Level.[33] Pett Levels Rescue Boathouse - geograph.org.uk - 1503205.jpg
Portsea Rescue, Portsmouth
Hampshire, England
[34]
Runswick Bay Rescue
North Yorkshire, England
RNLI-run until late 1970s.
Re-established 1982.
Registered charity.[35]
Lifeboat Station, Runswick Bay - geograph.org.uk - 521509.jpg
Ryde Inshore Rescue Service
Isle of Wight, England
Established 1858. RNLI-run 1894-1923.
Re-established 1956.
2 inshore lifeboats.
Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2009.[36]
Ryde Inshore Rescue Service, Isle of Wight, UK.jpg
Sandown and Shanklin
Isle of Wight, England
Run from Shanklin 1884-1916.
Now run from Sandown.
Sandown Lifeboat House.jpg
Palling Volunteer Rescue Service
Norfolk, England
Established 1840.
Run by the RNLI 1858-1931.
Re-established 1974.
Sea Palling lifeboat station.jpg
Severn Area Rescue Association
(SARA)
River Severn, England and Wales
Founded 1973.[37]
Operates 19 lifeboats from 4 stations.[38]
Registered charity.
Severn Area rescue Association HQ - geograph.org.uk - 609713.jpg
Sharpness (SARA), River Severn
England and Wales
Established 1986.[39] Dock Master's house, Sharpness Old Dock - geograph.org.uk - 103099.jpg
Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat
Devon, England
Run by the RNLI 1869-1912.
Re-established 1968.[40]
Sidmouth lifeboat station. - geograph.org.uk - 198422.jpg
Solent Rescue
Lepe, Hampshire, England
Established 1971.[41]
View towards Coast Guard Cottages, Lepe - geograph.org.uk - 648389.jpg
Southport Offshore Rescue Trust
Merseyside, England
Established early 18th century.
Run by the RNLI 1860-1925.[42]
Re-established late 1980s.[43]
Aa Southport lifeboat station 01.jpg
Tewkesbury (SARA)
Gloucestershire, England
Established 2008.[44]
Ulverston Inshore Rescue
Cumbria, England
Established 2002.[45]
Wyre Forest (SARA)
Shropshire/Worcestershire, England
Established pre-2010.[46]
York Rescue Boat
York, England
Established 2014.[47]

Northern Ireland[edit]

Name and location Notes Image
Bann Rescue (Community Rescue Service), River Bann
County Londonderry
Northern Ireland
Established 2008.[48]
Operates on River Bann.
Down the Bann with the "Lady Sandel" (5) - geograph.org.uk - 871123.jpg
Community Rescue Service
Northern Ireland
Operates throughout Northern Ireland.[49]
Foyle Search & Rescue
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
Established 1993.[50]
Operates on the River Foyle.
Foyle Search and Rescue Service - geograph.org.uk - 969104.jpg
Lagan Search and Rescue
Belfast Harbour, Northern Ireland
Deemed charity.[51]
Lough Neagh Rescue
Northern Ireland
Established 1990.[52] Lifeboats, Lough Neagh - geograph.org.uk - 374857.jpg

Scotland[edit]

Name and location Notes Image
East Sutherland Rescue (ESRA)
Dornoch
Established 1982.[53]
Glasgow Humane Society Lifeboat
Glasgow
Established 1790[54] Glasgow Humane Society landing stage (geograph 4128047).jpg
Loch Lomond Rescue
Luss, Loch Lomond
Established 1977.[55] Loch Lomond Rescue Boat boathouse - geograph.org.uk - 1659340.jpg
Nith Inshore Rescue
Glencaple
Registered charity.[56]
Port William Inshore Rescue Service
Dumfries and Galloway
Operates 6.5m RIB, Pirsac III.
Established 1979.[57][58]
Port William Harbour 04-11-15 03.jpeg
St Abbs Lifeboat, Berwickshire Registered Charity.
Established 2016 following closure of RNLI station (September 2015).
New MST 900W SAR lifeboat named Thomas Tunnock, September 2016.[59]
St Abbs Lifeboat and St Abbs Lifeboat Station.jpg

Wales[edit]

Name and location Notes Image
Beachley (SARA), River Severn
England and Wales
Operates from under the M48 Severn Bridge.[60] Beachley Point - slipway looking across River Severn - geograph.org.uk - 609739.jpg
Ferryside Inshore Rescue
Carmarthenshire, Wales
Established 1835.
Run by the RNLI until 1960.
Re-established 1966.[61]
Ferryside, rescue boat station - geograph.org.uk - 1179302.jpg
Loughor Inshore Rescue
Swansea, Wales
Established 1969.[62] Loughor Lifeboat Station in 2012.jpg
Severn Area Rescue Association
(SARA)
River Severn, England and Wales
Founded 1973.[63]
Operates 12 lifeboats from 4 stations.[64]
Registered charity.
Severn Area rescue Association HQ - geograph.org.uk - 609713.jpg
Sharpness (SARA), River Severn
England and Wales
Established 1986.[65] Dock Master's house, Sharpness Old Dock - geograph.org.uk - 103099.jpg

Republic of Ireland[edit]

Some independent services come under the umbrella of Community Rescue Boats Ireland (CRBI) and are trained and administrated by Irish Water Safety.[66]

Name and location Notes Image
Abbeyfeale District Search & Rescue
County Limerick
Established 2004[67]
Ballinskelligs Inshore Rescue (CRBI)
County Kerry, Ireland
Established 2008.[68] Ballinskelligs Pier - geograph.org.uk - 989693.jpg
Ballybunion Rescue
County Kerry, Ireland
Established 1986.[69] Ballbunion Sea and Cliff Rescue - Atlantic 21 Launch.JPG
Ballyheigue Sea and Cliff Rescue (CRBI)
County Kerry, Ireland
Operational since at least 2015[70] Ballyheigue village.jpg
Banna Rescue (CRBI)
County Kerry, Ireland
Established 1983.[71]
Bantry Rescue (CRBI)
County Cork, Ireland
Established 1987.[72] Bantry Lifeboat - geograph.org.uk - 504683.jpg
Blackwater Search & Rescue
Fermoy, County Cork
Established 1981[73]
Blessington Reservoir
County Wicklow
Established 2007[74]
Bonmahon (Bunmahon) (CRBI)
County Waterford, Ireland
Established 1986.[75] Lifeboathouse, Bonmahon - geograph.org.uk - 349390.jpg
Bunratty Search and Rescue
County Clare
Established 1981[76]
Cahir River Rescue (River Suir)
County Tipperary
Established 2002[77]
Cahore (CRBI)
County Wexford, Ireland
Established 2009.[78][79] Cahore Lifeboat House - geograph.org.uk - 917593.jpg
Carna (CRBI)
County Galway, Ireland
Carrick-on-Suir Search & Rescue
County Waterford
River rescue service[80]
Cork River Rescue, Monkstown
County Cork
Established 2006[81]
Corrib/Mask Lakes (CRBI)
County Galway, Ireland
Derrynane (CRBI)
County Kerry, Ireland
Established 1995. Pier on Derrynane Harbour - geograph.org.uk - 981144.jpg
Foxford & District Search & Rescue Unit
County Mayo
[82]
Kilkee Marine Rescue
County Clare, Ireland
Established 1981. Kilkee.JPG
Killarney Water Rescue
County Kerry
[83]
Lahinch Sea Rescue
County Clare
[84]
Limerick City (River Shannon) (CRBI)
Ireland
Lough Foyle Rescue
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
Established 1993.
Operates on the River Foyle.
Foyle Search and Rescue Service - geograph.org.uk - 969104.jpg
Mallow Search & Rescue Unit (CRBI)
County Cork
[85]
Schull (CRBI)
County Cork, Ireland
Established 2005.[86] Skull Harbour - geograph.org.uk - 252062.jpg
Tramore (CRBI)
County Waterford, Ireland
Lifeboathouse, Tramore (2) - geograph.org.uk - 349365.jpg
Waterford City River Rescue (CRBI)
County Waterford, Ireland
[87]
Waterford Marine Search and Rescue (CRBI)
County Waterford, Ireland

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ "Island goes orange for independent lifeboats". Island Echo. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Independent lifeboat fundraising drive announced". Practical Boat Owner. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Southport Lifeboat - Early history". Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Awareness day for independent lifeboats". The Caledonian Mercury. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Irish Lifeboats - Independent lifeboats". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Bay Search and Rescue". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  9. ^ "SARA - Beachley". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Birling Gap Safety Boat - History". Archived from the original on 26 May 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
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  73. ^ "Blackwater Sub Aqua Search & Rescue". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
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  79. ^ "Cahore - Launching". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
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  84. ^ Courtney, David (2008). Nine Lives. p. 370. ISBN 9781856356022. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  85. ^ "Mallow Search and Rescue Unit to hold a seven mile river raft race". The Corkman. 2 March 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  86. ^ "Schull Rescue". Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  87. ^ "Waterford City River Rescue". Retrieved 3 June 2014.