Wells Lifeboat, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk RNLI Lifeboats
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A Brief History

1830 The first lifeboat placed at Wells was of the Greathead North Country type. It came from Cromer when a new boat was received there and was provided by the Norfolk Shipwreck Association. This boat served at Wells until 1852.
1869 The RNLI took over operation of the lifeboat in Wells. A Lifeboat house was constructed at the west end of the quay at a cost of £300.
1880 On 29 October the Wells Lifeboat Eliza Adams capsized when returning to shore after a service launch. Eleven out of her crew of 13 were drowned, leaving 10 widows and 27 children. The Institution voted £1000 towards a fund raised locally for the dependants and paid the funeral expenses of the men.
1895 New Lifeboat house and slipway constructed on Wells Beach.
1896 The RNLI sells the original lifeboat house to Wells Urban District Council for £75. One of the few examples of this distinctive RNLI design to survive without major alterations, it is now the Wells Harbour Office and has being restored and refurbished to a high standard for the use of visiting sailors.
1936 Wells became the last station in Britain to use horses to launch a lifeboat.

The station gets its first motor lifeboat the Surf-class Royal Silver Jubilee 1910-1935 and launching tractor.

1942 Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Coxswain T Neilsen for his gallantry in going aboard a crashed Lancaster bomber on 14 July to search for survivors. One airman was rescued but there was no sign of any other member of the crew as the coxswain hoisted himself on to the edge of the wing and walked along the fuselage. Its top had been blown away and he climbed inside. At any moment the aircraft might have turned and sank and the coxswain would have been trapped inside her.
1946 On the night of 5 January, seven German prisoners of war impatient to get home stole a lorry and drove to the lifeboat house, broke open a window and tried to start the engine of the lifeboat but gave up the attempt. The men were arrested when they returned to the lorry.
1955 Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Coxswain W Cox for the rescue of five of the crew from the SS Zor of Instanbul on 18 May. The wind was northerly, strong to gale with squalls of sleet and hail. The Zor was loaded with timber and as each successive sea hit her the baulks of wood fell from her deck into the sea.
1962 US Air Force entertained the crew of Wells Lifeboat to a dinner in gratitude for the part played in the search for American airmen. A plaque was also presented and fixed in the boathouse.
1963 Bronze medal awarded to Second Coxswain F Taylor for the rescue of two people from the cabin cruiser Seamu on 18/19 May in a strong west-north westerly breeze and rough sea.
D-Class lifeboat sent to station in June.
1964 Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Coxswain D J Cox for the determination and courage he displayed in attempting to carry out a service to the yacht Kiskadee on 29/30 August. The yacht was aground on a sandbank about half a mile west of Blakeney Point, lying beam on to a confused sea that was washing over her. There was heavy breaking surf and it was a very dark night and, although four attempts were made, the lifeboat was unable to reach the yacht and she stood by while a shore boat took the Kiskadee in tow.
On 28 December the lifeboat was launched to stand by the oil rig Sea Gem and was on service for 21 hours in very severe weather conditions. There was a northerly wind of gale force, a very heavy swell and sleet and rain were falling intermittently during the whole service, which was recognised by the Committee of Management by the granting of additional monetary awards to the coxswain and crew.
1969 Century Vellum awarded to station.
1978 The Inshore Lifeboat Shed was destroyed by gales which battered the east coast during January. A new shed was built as an extension of the main boathouse to house the ILB.
1979 Silver medal awarded to Coxswain David Cox in recognition of his courage, determination and seamanship when the lifeboat under his command stood by the Rumanian cargo vessel Savinesti which had broken down and lost both her anchors north of the South Race Buoy in an east-north-easterly hurricane, extremely poor visibility due to heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures and a very rough sea on 15 February.
1981 Bronze medal awarded to Coxswain David Cox in recognition of the courage determination and seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of four of the motor fishing vessel Sarah-K which was in difficulties with her engine room flooded off Woolpack Buoy in a strong north westerly gale with rough short seas on 20 November.
1984 A new crewroom was built above the inshore lifeboat, along with access stairs which also provided easier boarding to the all-weather lifeboat.
1990 The new Mersey-class lifeboat Doris M Mann of Ampthill arrived on station. The boathouse was extensively modified to accommodate the larger vessel... although crew members on the bow still have to duck as the lifeboat is launched.
1996 Framed letter of appreciation signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to the all-weather lifeboat crew and shore helpers for the service to the fishing vessel Remus with a crew of two which was reported in difficulties on the west bar. The lifeboat proceeded in rough seas and Force 7/8 winds. An attempt to float a line to Remus was unsuccessful. The coxswain decided to drop anchor and called for the station tractor to be brought to the waters edge where Remus had now grounded. A rocket line was fired and hauled in by the shore helpers. Two crew members in the shore party boarded the Remus and secured a tow which was passed by use of the rocket line and illumination from a helicopter. The fishing vessel was taken in tow and the coxswain headed to the west to a gap through the west bar, which was safely negotiated into deeper waters. This service was carried out in darkness, shallow waters and near Gale Force winds on 17 November.

Medal Record
Three medals have been awarded to the station, one Silver and two Bronze.

 

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