Station History

 

The station was established in 1802, the first lifeboat being built by Greathead for the Trustees of Ramsgate Harbour. The station lapsed for some time before 1824 until 1851, when the Harbour Trustees purchased a lifeboat built by Beeching of Great Yarmouth. The Institution controlled the station jointly with the Board of Trade from 1865 until 1922, when it took over full responsibility.

The town of Ramsgate, to celebrate the jubilee of its incorporation as a borough, applied and received permission for the grant of supports to the Borough Arms. The supports are figures of a coastguard and a lifeboatman.

A dinner is held every three years from the income of the Admiral Back Fund. A bequest of £180 was received in 1878.

1829

Silver medal awarded to Captain Edward Gimar for the rescue of the crew of six from the French Brig Auguste in December 1828.

1857

Silver medal awarded to Coxswain J Hogbin in acknowledgement of his repeated services in the lifeboat, especially on the occasion of 26 November when he assisted to rescue 18 persons from the brig Caminha which was wrecked during gale force winds on the Goodwin Sands.

1863

Board of Trade took over responsibility of the station from the Harbour Trusts.

1864

Silver medal awarded to Coxswain I Jarman in recognition of his gallant services in assisting to save a large number of shipwrecked persons during the heavy gales of December 1863, particularly in rescuing 120 lives from the emigrant ship Fusilier on 3 December 1863.

1870

Silver Second-Service clasp awarded to Coxswain I Jarman and the Silver medal to Bowman C Fish, in acknowledgement of their continued gallant services in the lifeboat.

1872

Silver medal awarded to Mr D Reading, Master of Ramsgate Harbour Steam Tug in recognition of his gallant services in aiding to save life from wrecks on the Goodwin Sands.

1873

Member of the crew, William White, washed out of lifeboat whilst on service to the barge Sarpsborg of Norway on 2 February. Committee of Management voted £50 to local funds.

1874

Silver medal awarded to J Simpson and W Wharrier, mate and engineer respectively of the Ramsgate Harbour Tug in recognition of their gallant services.

The Indian Chief Rescue

1881

Gold medal awarded to Coxswain C Fish in acknowledgement of his bravery, skill and determination when the lifeboat under his command rescued 12 of the crew of 29 of the barque Indian Chief which was wrecked on the Long Sand in an easterly gale and heavy sea on 5 January, while on passage to Yokohama from Middlesborough. Silver medals were awarded to eleven other members of the lifeboat crew; and to seven members of the crew of the tug Vulcan which towed the lifeboat. The last surviving member of the lifeboat crew died in May 1931. This was one of the finest services in the Institution's history.

Charles Fish and his Crew

Photo East Kent Maritime Trust

1 Dick Goldsmith

5 Tom Cooper Snr.

9 Tom Cooper Jnr.

2 John Goldsmith

6 Tom Friend

10 Robert Penny

3 Henry Meader

7 Charles Fish (Cox'n)

11 Dave Berry

4 Stephen Goldsmith

8 Charles Verrion

12 Harry Belsey

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1890

Silver Third-Service clasp awarded to W Wharrier, engineer, of the Ramsgate Harbour Tug on his retirement.

1891

Gold Second-Service clasp awarded to Coxswain C Fish on his retirement.

1892

Silver Second-Service clasp awarded to A Page, Tug Master in recognition of his general gallant services in the lifeboat.

Silver medal and £1 each awarded to James Watson, William Burton, Edwin Hurle and Arthur E Fisher, the crew of the smack Britain's Pride of Ramsgate, for gallantly saving an apprentice from the ship Enterkin of Glasgow, which was wrecked on the Galloper Sands in a heavy westerly gale and a very heavy sea, on 12 December 1891.

1898

Silver Third-Service clasp awarded to A Page, Tug Master, on his retirement.

First Ever Radio Distress Call

1899

On the 11th March 1899 the Ramsgate Lifeboat station received a telegraphic message from the South Foreland Lighthouse to say that the three masted sailing ship the "Elbe" had run aground in dense fog on the Goodwin Sands, after they had received a wireless transmission from the East Goodwin Lightship notifying them of the incident. The lighthouse and lightship had been fitted out with Marconi's newly developed wireless telegraphy equipment in December 1898 as part of a trial to show Trinity House the advantage of their equipment over other systems. Though the lifeboat was not launched on this occasion this was the first time in history that a lifeboat had been alerted of a ship in danger by use of wireless.

East Goodwin Lightship

Photo Marconi Corporation plc.
 
The Marconi aerial can be seen suspended from the spar at the masthead.

Just a short time after this event on the 28th April 1899 the East Goodwin Lightship was involved in a collision with the steamer 'R. F. Matthews'. This time the following message was sent from the lightship to the South Foreland Lighthouse:

"We have just been run into by the steamer 'R. F. Matthews', of London. Steamship is standing by us. Our bows are very badly damaged".

The Ramsgate Lifeboat was informed of the situation and was put on standby.

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1906

Silver medal awarded to John Hawkins for his conspicuous bravery in lowering himself by a rope from the East Pier and swimming out to the assistance of five persons whose boat had capsized off the harbour entrance in a strong west-south-westerly wind and rough sea on 14 September. All five were saved.

1912

A member of the crew, S Bryant, had both legs broken whilst on service in the lifeboat on 1 November.

1916

Silver medal awarded to Coxswain W Cooper and Second Coxswain T W Read for their gallant and persistent efforts to rescue the crew of 52 of the ss Sibiria, wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 20 November. The lifeboat was constantly full of water and nearly capsized on several occasions. The crew of the vessel was taken off by the Kingsdown lifeboat.

1931

Centenary Vellum awarded.

The War Years

1940

On 24 August 1940 the station had to be closed. Ramsgate was bombed from the air that day and the whole lifeboat crew of nine took shelter in a cellar near the harbour. A bomb burst just outside and six of the nine men were wounded. Up to that time the Ramsgate station had rescued 168 lives since the outbreak of the war. The station was re-opened on 11 October 1940, although the coxswain, assistant motor mechanic and one of the crew were still unfit for duty.

The Prudential

Photo East Kent Maritime Trust

The station's outstanding service of the war was its work on the beaches of Dunkirk. The lifeboat Prudential brought off from the beaches some 2,800 men of the British Expeditionary Force. When she got back to Ramsgate she had been away for over 40 hours. For 30 of those hours she had worked on the beaches; nearly all the time she had been under fire; for two nights the crew had been without sleep. Her coxswain, Howard Primrose Knight, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his "gallantry and determination in this work".

In 1952 the Institution received a gift from brother officers, in place of flowers for the funeral of an officer who was one of the 2,800 brought off the beaches.

In recognition of the Dunkirk service, the Prudential Assurance Company, donors of the lifeboat, presented the coxswain and crew with inscribed silver plaques at a public luncheon.

The flag of the Ramsgate lifeboat Prudential was consecrated and hung in St George's Church, Ramsgate. The vicar asked if it might be given to the Church in memory of the gallantry of the Ramsgate men at Dunkirk.

The Flag of the Prudential
Photo Ralph Hoult

The Crew of the Prudential

Photo East Kent Maritime Trust

Back Row, Left to Right - Edward Cooper, Ernest Attwood (Mechanic), Alfred Liddle, John Hawkes, Thomas Goldfinch.

Front Row, Left to Right - Charles Knight, Alfred Moody (Ass. Coxswain), Howard Knight (Coxswain), Thomas Read (Ass. Mechanic).

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1948

Vellum expressing the thanks of the RNLI was presented to a 17 year old local boy Kenneth Gilbert for his bravery in going single handed in a small boat to the rescue of three army officers whose yacht the Sunfish capsized outside Ramsgate Harbour in a stiff easterly wind on Good Friday the 2nd of April 1948.

1952

Bronze medal awarded to Coxswain Douglas S Kirkaldie for the rescue of five men from the fore part of the ss Western Farmer of New York on 20/21 August. The Western Farmer had broken in two and Coxswain Kirkaldie brought the lifeboat alongside the stern port, although it was clear that it might turn over at any moment on top of the lifeboat.

The Maud Smith Award for the bravest act of life-saving in 1952 was won by Coxswain D Kirkaldie.

1953

The Prudential was one of the four lifeboats which took part in the Coronation Review of the Fleet by the Queen at Spithead on 15 June.

Coronation Review of the Fleet

Photo East Kent Maritime Trust
Left to Right - ? - Prudential - ?- Lord Southborough

1954

150th Year Commemorative Vellum awarded.

1955

The thousandth launch by the Ramsgate lifeboat station was on 16 July to the ss Husvik of Norway.

1968

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Thomas J H Cooper for saving the yacht Lungta and rescuing her crew of four after the yacht had grounded on Ramsgate harbour bar in a strong south westerly gale and a very rough sea during the night of 11/12 October.

1969

Inshore lifeboat station established with the placing on service of a Dell Quay Dory.

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1975

Dell Quay Dory replaced by an 18ft McLachlan lifeboat (A510 18-010).

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The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to crew members, Michael Petts and Timothy Hurst for entering the sea to escort to the lifeboat three men and one woman from the yacht Albas grounded on the Goodwin Sands in a strong south-south-westerly wind and a rough sea during the night of 11/12 September.

1980

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Malcolm H R Llewellyn and Bryan L E Morgan, Coxswain and Launch Seaman respectively of the Trinity House Pilot Vessel Versatile in recognition of their skill and determination when the pilot vessel rescued an angler washed off the East Pier, Ramsgate, in a northerly storm and a rough steep sea on 29 November.

1983

A framed letter of appreciation signed by the Chairman, The Duke of Atholl, awarded to the Coxswain and crew (Coxswain/Mechanic R Cannon, 2nd Coxswain/Assistant Mechanic D Pegden, Emergency Mechanic D Cooper, Crew Members W Blay, T Brown and T Hurst) in recognition of their excellent seamanship and the competent manner in which they rescued the crew of six of the yacht Mer Gaspard and took the yacht in tow to Ramsgate when the casualty was hard aground and laying over to starboard at the eastern edge of the Goodwin Knoll Bank on 30 October.

1984

A framed letter of appreciation signed by the Chairman, The Duke of Atholl, awarded to the Coxswain and crew (Coxswain/Mechanic R Cannon, 2nd Coxswain/Assistant Mechanic D Pegden, Crew Members T Hurst, M Mett, N Stephens and R Noble) in recognition of their skill when the lifeboat rescued the crew of two and saved the trawler Nancy by taking her in tow into Ramsgate Harbour when she fouled her propeller one and a half miles east-south-east of North Foreland on 30 January.

A framed letter of appreciation signed by the Chairman, The Duke of Atholl, awarded to Crew Member Timothy Hurst in recognition of his selfless action when he leapt four feet across from the lifeboat down onto the motor cruiser Kalavala drifting with a drive shaft failure, with four people including two young children on board, to secure a towline and calm the frightened and seasick children on 27 April.

The 18ft McLachlan lifeboat (A510 18-010) was withdrawn and replaced by an Atlantic 21 as the station's lifeboat on 13 October.

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1985

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Helmsman Timothy E Hurst for saving the cabin cruiser Hide and Seek and rescuing her crew of two after the boat had suffered engine failure and was being pounded against the western breakwater in a southerly storm and a very rough sea on 11 August.

1986

The Silver medal was awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Ronald N Cannon in recognition of the courage, determination and seamanship displayed by him when the French fishing vessel Gloire A Marie II, aground at the entrance to the River Stour two miles south west of Ramsgate, was towed into deep water with her seven crew and led to safety in a north easterly hurricane and 20 foot breaking seas on 26 December 1985.

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1995

Tyne class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Trent class on 24 August.

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1998

New boathouse to provide housing for the inshore lifeboat with a pontoon mooring for the all weather lifeboat was completed in May.

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2000

Silver Second Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Ronald N Cannon in recognition of the enormous courage, determination and seamanship demonstrated by him when the yacht Rasmus and her crew of three were saved from the Goodwin Sands in atrocious weather conditions on 9 November 1999. Emergency Mechanic Timothy Hurst and crew member Lance Oran were each accorded The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum for their part in this service, which involved both the all weather and inshore lifeboats.

Rasmus

Photo Ray Noble

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Coxswain/Mechanic Ronald Cannon received the "Miss Maud Smith's Reward for Courage in Memory of John 7th Earl of Hardwicke", for the rescue of the crew of the yacht "Rasmus" on 9 November 1999. This annual award is made to the lifeboatman who performed the outstanding act of lifesaving during the previous year.

Record of Service

War record (1939-1945)

The Ramsgate lifeboat played a distinguished part. It was launched 60 times and rescued 170 lives, as well as helping at Dunkirk.

 

Medal Record

42 medals have been voted, 2 Gold, 39 Silver and 1 Bronze, the last being awarded in 2000.

 

Foreign Awards

On 31 January 1911 the Ramsgate lifeboat rescued the crew of seven of the schooner Danmark of Svendberg. The King of Denmark awarded a Silver medal to Coxswain W Cooper and the Master of the Tug Aid. On 16 January 1912 the Ramsgate and North Deal lifeboats rescued the crew of 20 of the ss Marie Leonhardt of Hamburg. The German Government addressed thanks to the lifeboat crew. On 31 January 1919 the Ramsgate lifeboat rescued 23 of the crew of the ss Piave of New Jersey. The President of the United States of America awarded a gold watch to the Coxswain, binoculars to the Second Coxswain and Gold medals to the lifeboat crew. Similar awards were granted to the crew of the Ramsgate Tug Aid and the crew of the North Deal lifeboat which rescued 30 from the Piave.

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