Harwich Lifeboat Station

Station History

The first purpose built lifeboat to be stationed at Harwich was a pulling and sailing boat called the "Braybrooke". Built by George Graham, run by the Essex Lifeboat Association, was on station in 1821 and withdrawn in 1825.

In 1875 a meeting was convened in Harwich after the lost of the German steamer "Detschland" with a review to establishing a Lifeboat Station. Following a further wreck, the RNLI sent a lifeboat to Harwich without waiting foe the erection of a lifeboat house. The lifeboat was called the "Springwell" and was a self-righting type 35ft in length, 9ft in beam and crewed by 10 men. Miss E Burmester of London donated the "Springwell" which was built by "Woolfe of Shadwell". On 20th January 1881 the "Springwell" launched to the aid of the Dutch vessel "Ingerid". Seven lives were saved from the wreck and the Coxswain and crew were awarded medals by the Dutch Government. Unfortunately it turned over in 1881 with the lost of one crew member. It was immediately replaced by another boat of the same name but 10ft longer. Both these early self-righter's were looked upon with some suspicion by the crew, as they were not very stable in rough weather. The second "Springwell" served at Harwich until 1902.

Following the "Springwells" was a 43ft Watson class lifeboat called the "Ann Fawcett". This boat stayed at Harwich until No.1 station was closed in 1912.

In 1890 a second Harwich Lifeboat Station was opened. The first boat was called the "Duke of Northumberland" and was built in 1889. This was the first every steam 50ft lifeboat and was a revolutionarily design. Water was drawn in through the hull and forced out at great pressure through the vents in the side of the boat. During its short stay at Harwich it was moored afloat near Halfpenny Pier. This boat was transferred to Holyhead in 1892.
Duke of Northumberland Duke of Northumberland

Replacing the "Duke of Northumberland" was the new lifeboat "City of Glasgow" built to the same design but 2ft longer. It was designed by the Institution Naval Architect Mr G Watson and was built by Messrs R & H Green of Blackwall London. It was named "City of Glasgow " as the cost was funded by the Glasgow Lifeboat Saturday Fund. Presumably this was the equivalent of today's Lifeboat Day. The "City of Glasgow " arrived on station at Harwich on the 7th November 1894. The coxswain was instructed that exercises would be quarterly in accordance with the Institution policy, but the Chief Engineer was to raise steam and work the engines for four hours once a month. The "City of Glasgow " remained at Harwich until 1901 when it was sold out of service.
City of Glasgow City of Glasgow

The RNLI replaced this lifeboat with another boat with the same name. This "City of Glashow " was 55ft long and was also steam driven. On 7th April 1908, his lifeboat went to the assistance of the schooner "Notre Dame des Toutes Aides" and in recognition of this rescue 11 medals were bestowed on the Coxswain and crew by the "Hospitaliers Sauveteurs Bretons".

This lifeboat stayed at Harwich until 1907 when the station was closed due to the Admiralty requisitioning the steam tug which assisted the lifeboat during services.


Summary of the lifeboats station at Harwich

Harwich Number 1 station 1876 - 1912

Springwell (No 1) 1876 - 1881 26 lauches, 61 lives saved Cost £432
Springwell (No 2) 1881- 1902 94 lauches, 82 lives saved Cost £600
Ann Fawcett 1904 - 1912 16 lauches, 15 lives saved Cost £1,711
Temporary boats   13 lauches, 3 lives saved  

Harwich Number 2 station 1890 -1917

Duke of Northumberland 1890 - 1892 15 lauches, 33 lives saved New steam design £5,000
City of Glasgow (No 1) 1894 - 1901 23 lauches, 32 lives saved Cost £2,640
City of Glasgow (No 2) 1901 - 1917 99 lauches, 87 lives saved Cost £4,191