Mersey, Shannon Appeal, D-class, inshore, all-weather, wells-next-the-sea, north norfolk, uk" index.htm
Wells Lifeboat RNLI Lifeboats Wells Norfolk UK
Wells Lifeboat

A Brief History


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.
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. This building is now the harbour office.
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
New Lifeboat house and slipway constructed on Wells Beach
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Century Vellum awarded to station
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
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
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
A new crewroom was built above the inshore lifeboat, along with access stairs which also provided easier boarding to the all-weather lifeboat
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
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
D-512 Jane Ann II replaced the original Jane Ann inshore lifeboat
Thanks of the Institution on Vellum were awarded to Coxswain Allen Frary and Second Coxswain and ILB helmsman Bob Smith, and Vellum Service Certificates to the lifeboat crew, for a service to the 17' yacht Candy which was in danger struggling to enter the harbour in shallow, rough water. The ILB was on scene first and escorted the yacht through rough and confused seas to somewhat calmer water. Two children were taken off the yacht onto the all-weather lifeboat and two crewmen put aboard to help secure a tow. While the lifeboat towed the yacht in, mostly beam-on in force 5-6 winds with considerable rolling and water coming on board, the ILB stood by in growing darkness at the harbour entrance. A big sea swept over the yacht just inside the harbour entrance knocking her skipper overboard but the ILB was swiftly able to recover him. Tractor driver Phil Eaglen had initially spotted Candy in trouble and received a letter of appreciation from the RNLI's operations director.
In a challenging service, the all-weather lifeboat brought in the 97' Dutch sailing vessel Albatros which had dragged her anchors into shallow, rough waters to the east of the harbour entrance while returning from a charter trip with 11 persons on-board. In worsening squally force 6 and 7 conditions, she was unable to retrieve her anchors or make headway and it took repeated attempts for the lifeboat to finally establish a tow and bring the vessel safely into harbour.
A new D-class inshore lifeboat D-661 Jane Ann III arrived on station. This was the new IB1 design with a 25kt top speed, 50hp engine, electric start, chart plotter and many other improvements
A new IB1 D-class inshore lifeboat D-797 Peter Wilcox was sent to the station.
The station celebrated 150 years as an RNLI lifeboat station with four generations of lifeboats on show in the quay. A 150th anniversary vellum was presented to the station by RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie.
A new boathouse adjacent to the beach bank was completed after two years of construction to house the new Shannon-class all-weather lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh. The boat itself arrived in Wells by sea in October.
After a period of crew training, the new Shannon-class lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh went into service in February replacing the Mersey

Medal Record

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


Exercise Launches

You are welcome to watch the lifeboats launch on exercise from a safe distance on the beach bank or beach; please keep clear of the boats and launching vehicles and keep children and dogs under supervision. Exercises are roughly every two weeks and we try to post dates and times in advance when we can. All dates are subject to change or cancellation at short notice for operational reasons.

Thursday 23 May 2024 18:30
Regular exercise
ILB may launch for training

Thursday 6 Jun 2024 20:30
ILB attending D-Day 80 event

Saturday 8 Jun 2024 08:30
ILB attending Norfolk Superhero Challenge

Sunday 9 Jun 2024 08:30
ALB exercise

Sunday 23 Jun 2024 08:30
Regular exercise

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a registered charity, number 209603.
This website is managed and maintained by local volunteers at the Wells-next-the-Sea Lifeboat Station, not the RNLI.
All text and images copyright (C)2005-2014 RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station, or as indicated, and may not be downloaded,
copied or reproduced elsewhere without prior permission of the station or the relevant copyright holder.