Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Happy Birthday to us! 140 years old today.

 This week signals a momentous occasion for Swanage RNLI, as the station celebrates its 140th anniversary. While celebrating the station’s rich heritage, it’s a poignant time to look to the future as plans move further forward for the arrival of Swanage’s new Shannon class lifeboat next year.

Swanage lifeboat station was established in 1875 at the request of the local residents as a result of the wreck of the brig Wild Wave on 23 January 1875. This sparked an urgent need for a dedicated lifeboat service on this stretch of coastline and as a result Swanage lifeboat was established on 16 September 1875. The station has had numerous lifeboats in its time and is currently home to a Mersey class lifeboat Robert Charles Brown, and a D class inshore lifeboat Phyl and Jack.

In 140 years, Swanage lifeboats have launched 2,472 times, carried out 1871 rescues and saved 752 lives.

Next year the station is due to receive a new state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat to replace its current Mersey class. The lifeboat is to be named George Thomas Lacy, following a generous legacy left by Mr George Lacy for use by the RNLI on the Dorset coast.

Due to the size of the Shannon class, building work is currently underway for a new lifeboat station and slipway for the lifeboat to launch from. The new station will provide much improved facilities for the volunteer crew including a crew changing and shower room, a fully-equipped crew training room, mechanics workshop, office space and a boathouse for both lifeboats.

Lifeboat Operations Manager for Swanage, Neil Hardy, who has committed 25 years of his life to the station, says:

‘There has been a huge amount of work ongoing on site, and the building is now finally starting to take shape as the above ground structure becomes more visible. Most of the work already undertaken has been underground to stabilize the area in order to provide solid foundations for the new station and slipway, as well as enhancing the supporting wall at the rear of the site that adjoins residential gardens.

‘Stone reclaimed from the old boathouse is being laid for the lower part of what will be the external wall of Angling Club. Reinforcing mesh has been laid in preparation for the floor of the inshore lifeboat hall.
‘My ancestors helped lay the first bricks for the Swanage RNLI boathouse 140 years ago, so you could say I’ve inherited it. To see the new station begin to evolve is fantastic, and I feel proud to be a part of such an historic occasion.’