Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station

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Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station
Flag of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.svg
Lifeboat station - geograph.org.uk - 793358.jpg
Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station.
Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station is located in Essex
Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station
General information
TypeRNLI Lifeboat Station
LocationThe Parade, Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, CO14 8EA
Coordinates51°50′50.20″N 1°16′17.81″E / 51.8472778°N 1.2716139°E / 51.8472778; 1.2716139Coordinates: 51°50′50.20″N 1°16′17.81″E / 51.8472778°N 1.2716139°E / 51.8472778; 1.2716139
OwnerRoyal National Lifeboat Institution

Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station is an RNLI station[1] located in the town of Walton-on-the-Naze in the English county of Essex.[2] The current all-weather boat (AWB) at Walton is the Tamar Class Irene Muriel Rees (ON 1299) which is kept moored afloat in a specially constructed pen at the end of Walton Pier. Prior to the construction of this, the boats were anchored in open water to the south of the pier.


The RNLI station opened in 1884 although this was not the first lifeboat operated from Walton. In 1880 a private lifeboat operated from the town which was owned by a Mr George Polly. The first RNLI lifeboat was a 37-foot self-righting lifeboat called Honourable Artillery Company (ON 31). This lifeboat was built by Forrest and Son of Limehouse[3] and was paid for by the drama group of the Honourable Artillery Company which had been stationed at Walton in 1860. This lifeboat was stationed in a purpose built Lifeboat House to the northern end of the seafront in Walton. The station was officially opened on 18 November 1884 by Augusta Mary Elizabeth Cavendish-Bentinck, 1st Baroness Bolsover in front of a large gathered crowd.[4] This Boathouse is nowadays the home of the Walton Maritime Museum.[5]

Rival lifeboats[edit]

In 1894 there were strong disagreements amongst the members of the RNLI crew and committee which resulted in some members of the crew resigning and leaving the institute. These men decided to set up a rival private lifeboat. They bought a second hand lifeboat which they named True-to-the-Core.[6] For the next twenty years Walton was covered by two lifeboats which resulted in tense rivalry between the institution's boat and the private lifeboat.[7] In 1897 the private lifeboat service acquired a new lifeboat. The new boat was once again named True-to-the-Core and she was built by John Houston at Rowhege.[8] The boat cost £437 and was launched on 12 October 1897.[9] This lifeboat was permanently kept at anchor on the north side of Walton Pier.

New RNLI lifeboat[edit]

In 1900 the Honourable Artillery Company was retired from Walton. She had been on station for 16 years and was responsible for saving the lives of 132 people. Her replacement was a Norfolk and Suffolk class lifeboat called James Stevens No.14 (ON 432).[10] The private lifeboat True-to-the-Core was inspected by the RNLI in 1911 and following tests carried out in Harwich the RNLI rejected the lifeboat and refused to accept her into the RNLI fleet. It is thought that she was sold to Turkey where she was used to start that country’s Lifeboat service.[11]

World War One[edit]

During the period of World War One (1914 – 1918) the Walton and Frinton lifeboat was kept very busy. During hostilities she assisted both Allied and neutral vessels in trouble off the Essex coast. One notable rescue took place on 29 to 30 December 1917. The lifeboat James Stevens No.14 was called out in an east by north gale with sleet and driving rain to the 780-ton SS Peregrine[12] of the General Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. of London. The ship had been en route from Rotterdam to London when she had become stranded on the north-east side of Longsand, just off Clacton-on-Sea. After a difficult and time consuming search the lifeboat came across the vessel and got alongside. All 59 passengers and the Chief Steward were saved and taken off and placed on a nearby patrol vessel. The lifeboat then returned to the ship which had now broken in half and saved the remaining 32 crew members. The rescue had taken all night and the lifeboat only left for shore at 9 am in the morning. The James Stevens No.14 had been badly damaged during the rescue. Coxswain William Hammond was awarded a RNLI Silver medal for his part in this rescue, and the second Coxswain John Byford was given a Bronze medal.[13]


James Stevens No.14 was at Walton and Frinton for a total of 28 years and during this period she was launched a total of 126 times and is credited with saving 227 lives. In 1928 the lifeboat James Stevens No.14 was replaced by a new lifeboat by the name of E.M.E.D. (ON 705).[14] This lifeboat was a Ramsgate motor class lifeboat and was built by J. S. White of Cowes, Isle of Wight. This lifeboat had a busy time whilst on station.

Dunkirk evacuation[edit]

In May 1940 the Walton and Frinton crew manned the E.M.E.D. after they had been instructed to take the lifeboat to Dover. She arrived at the port on 31 May. She was needed, along with 17 other RNLI lifeboats, to help in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and the French Army from Dunkirk. Much to the disappointment of the crew, the lifeboat was then immediately commandeered by the Royal Navy and given to the Navy to crew. E.M.E.D. had a moderate draft which made her particularly suitable for the task of transporting hundreds of men from the beaches out to the big ships waiting to evacuate them back to England. The lifeboat along with others was towed across the English Channel by a drifter. Working inside Dunkirk harbour E.M.E.D. survived three enemy air attacks off Gravelines which destroyed boats with which she was in tow.[14] E.M.E.D. got back to Dover with a rope around her propeller.[14] This was removed and she returned to France where she remained until the evacuation was completed. Whilst taking part a shell killed the officer in charge of the lifeboat.[14] The lifeboat sustained some damage in the operation, but when repaired, she returned to Walton and Frinton. During the Second World War the E.M.E.D. lifeboat was launched a total of 57 times and is credited with saving 20 lives.[4]


In 1953 the station received a new lifeboat to replace E.M.E.D. This lifeboat was a 46 ft 9 in Watson class lifeboat called Edian Courtauld (ON 910) and it was to be the last new lifeboat allocated to Walton for 58 years. Built at a cost of £29,687 by J.S.White of Cowes, she was a gift from the late Augustine Courtauld,[15] arctic explorer, yachtsman and member of the Institution’s committee of management, named after his mother. Originally powered by twin Ferry VE4 diesels, these were replaced by 65 hp Parsons Barracuda engines in 1967. Edian Courtauld served at Walton until July 1977, launching on service 224 times and saving 143 lives.


In 1977, Edian Courtauld was replaced on station by a self-righting 48 ft 6 in Oakley class boat. The Earl and Countess Howe (ON968), Operational Number 48-01, had been built in 1963 by William Osborne at Littlehampton at a cost of £40,348. Powered by twin Gardner 6LX 110 hp diesels, she had spent 14 years stationed at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. She was the only 48 ft 6 in Oakley with an aft cockpit, open to the stern. The other four of the class having enclosed amidships cockpits. Like the smaller 37 ft Oakleys, the larger boat used a water ballast transfer system for self-righting. The Earl and Countess Howe served at Walton until January 1984, launching on service 64 times and saving 21 lives.


In 1984 The Earl and Countess Howe was retired from Walton and a 48 ft 6 in Solent class lifeboat was sent to the station. She was called City of Birmingham (ON 1012), Operational Number 48-009. The Solent was a steel-hulled development of the 48 ft 6 in Oakley and was inherently self-righting by virtue of its watertight wheelhouse and thus dispensed with the Oakley's complicated water ballast system. This lifeboat was built in 1970 by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport at a cost of £72,000.[16] The funds for the cost were raised in an appeal organized in the City of Birmingham, hence her name and she was stationed at Exmouth from 1970 to 1983. The City of Birmingham was kept very busy during her time at the station but her more notable launches were to several of the Radio Ships moored off the Essex coast including to the Radio Caroline ship called Ross Revenge. This lifeboat was stationed at Walton until August 1993 and during her service there she launched on service 186 times, saving 40 lives.

The nineties[edit]

City of Birmingham was one of the last displacement hull boats in RNLI service and almost all other stations had received new fast lifeboats capable of 15-17 knots, which Walton and Frinton had conspicuously missed out on. In 1993 the 2nd prototype Tyne-class lifeboat Sam and Joan Woods (ON 1075), Operational Number 47-002, built in 1982 and having spent nine years in the Relief fleet was allocated to the station. The Tyne was designed as a fast slipway launched boat, but many were moored afloat in places where their protected propellers were required for inshore working in shallow waters, as at Walton and Frinton. Sam and Joan Woods stayed at Walton for less than three years, launching on service 67 times and saving 10 lives, before returning to the Relief fleet and being replaced in May 1996 by the newer 1989 built Tyne Kenneth Thelwall II (ON1154), Operational Number 47-036. This boat had been stationed at Ramsgate from 1990 to 1994. In 1998 work was carried out on the station facilities. There were improvements to the fuel storage room and the crew facilities were improved.

The installation of a new berth and wave-break[edit]

In 2005 the stations was once again improved. This time the RNLI had a new berth and wave break constructed alongside the pier. These improvements allowed a quicker and safer boarding response time on call-outs for the crew and also included storage and maintenance facilities. The work was carried out at a cost of around one million pounds.[17] The new wave-break was officially opened on 1 May 2005[18] by the RNLI’s Chief of Operations Michael Vlasto.[19]

Irene Muriel Rees[edit]

The Irene Muriel Rees (ON 1299) anchored in the wave-break

Kenneth Thelwall II served at Walton until May 2011, when the station received its first brand new lifeboat since 1953. Irene Muriel Rees (ON 1299) is a Tamar class lifeboat, designed to replace the Tyne-class lifeboat. She was placed on station in 2011 and was funded from the legacy of Miss Irene Muriel Rees of Ashtead, Surrey. The Tamar class lifeboat is the most advanced vessel in the RNLI fleet. The Irene Muriel Rees is loaded with new technology, including fly-by-wire joystick steering, suspension seats to protect crew in severe weather, and an onboard computer system called Systems and Information Management System or SIMS. SIMS allows complex tasks such as engine and navigation management to be displayed on a single flat LCD screen, six of which are positioned around the vessel, to allow crew to operate all the systems without moving from their seats. In the stern section of Irene Muriel Rees there is a built in recessed chamber which house a small inflatable daughter boat. Access to the inflatable daughter boat is by means of lowering the transom, and lifting a section of deck. This allows the tender to be launched and recovered onto a ramp provided by the lowered transom section. The lifeboat was built at a cost of £2.5 million.


Dates in service Class ON Op. No. Name Comments
1884−1900 Self-Righter ON 31 Honourable Artillery Company
1900−1928 Norfolk and Suffolk-class ON 432 James Stevens No. 14 Motor fitted 1906
1928−1953 Ramsgate-class ON 705 E.M.E.D.
1953−1977 46ft 9in Watson-class ON 910 Edian Courtauld
1977–1984 48ft 6in Oakley-class ON 968 48-01 The Earl and Countess Howe Ex Yarmouth
1984−1993 Solent-class ON 1012 48-009 City of Birmingham Ex Exmouth
1993−1996 Tyne-class ON 1075 47-002 Sam and Joan Woods Ex Relief fleet
1996−2011 Tyne-class ON 1154 47-036 Kenneth Thewall II Ex Ramsgate
2011−present Tamar-class ON 1042 16-19 Irene Muriel Rees

Geographic location of neighbouring stations[edit]


  1. ^ "Walton Lifeboat Station". The Official Walton RNLI website. RNLI web site. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  2. ^ OS Explorer Map 184 – Colchester, Harwich & Clacton-on-Sea. Published: Ordnance Survey – Southampton. ISBN 978 0 319 4637 03.
  3. ^ "Lifesaving on the Thames – The Thames Lifeboat Builders". Reference to Forrest & Son. Portcities – London – Royal Museum, Greenwich. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Walton and Frinton Lifeboat". History. Walton and Frinton Lifeboat. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Frinton and Walton Heritage – Walton Maritime Museum Trust". Walton Maritime Museum. Walton and Frinton Lifeboat. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  6. ^ Wreck and Rescue on the Essex Coast - The wreck and rescue series. Author: Malster, Robert. Publisher: D.B.Barton; First edition. Hardback 168 pages. Edition: October 1968. Work: page 48 – Walton Chapter. ISBN 978 0851530000
  7. ^ "Walton Tales – George Arthur Polly". References to the True-to-the-Core lifeboat and its rivalry with the RNLI boat. The Twenty Ten Theme. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Mersea Museum – Rowhedge images". Image of the new private lifeboat at Rowhedge. Mersea Museum. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  9. ^ Wreck and Rescue on the Essex Coast - The wreck and rescue series. Author: Malster, Robert. Publisher: D.B.Barton; First edition. Hardback 168 pages. Edition: October 1968. Work: page 55 – Walton Chapter - True-to-the-Core lifeboat. ISBN 978 0851530000
  10. ^ "National Historic Ships Register". James Stevens entry. National Historic Ships Register- National Historic Ships UK. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  11. ^ Wreck and Rescue on the Essex Coast - The wreck and rescue series. Author: Malster, Robert. Publisher: D.B.Barton; First edition. Hardback 168 pages. Edition: October 1968. Work: page 61 – Walton Chapter- Sale of the True-to-the-Core. ISBN 978 0851530000
  12. ^ "Wreck Site – SS Peregrine". Details of the Ship SS Peregrine. www.wrecksite.eu. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  13. ^ Lifeboat Gallantry – RNLI Medals and How they were won. Author: Cox, Barry. Published: Spink, London, 1998. Work: Page 243. ISBN 0 907605 89 3
  14. ^ a b c d "The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships". Association of Dunkirk Little Ships. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Augustine Courtauld: 1904-1959". Description of the Man and his work. icecapstation.com. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Camper and Nicholsons: A short History of Camper and Nicholsons 1782–2005" (PDF). Good Old Boat. October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  17. ^ Walton-on-the-Naze Pier. Reference to construction and coast of Wave-break. The-Pier.co.uk 2008 - 2013 ©. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  18. ^ "Walton and Frinton Lifeboats". Reference to the New Wave-Break and the opening ceremony. Walton and Frinton Lifeboats - 2013 ©. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Who rules the Waves?". The Lifeboat. RNLI.