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.

1826

Silver Medal and £2 awarded to William Miller, and £2 each to 12 other men for the rescue, by means of a boat, of the crew of seven of the ship Eliza & Jane that was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 6 September 1826.

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 James Hogbin in acknowledgement of his repeated services in the lifeboat, especially on the occasion of 26 November 1857 when he assisted to rescue 18 people from the brig Caminha that was wrecked during gale force winds on the Goodwin Sands.

1863

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

1864

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Isaac Jarman in recognition of his gallant services in assisting to save a large number of shipwrecked people 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 Isaac Jarman and the Silver Medal to Bowman Charles Fish, in acknowledgement of their continued gallant services in the lifeboat.

1872

Silver Medal awarded to Mr Daniel 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 James Simpson and William Wharrier, mate and engineer respectively of the Ramsgate Harbour Tug in recognition of their gallant services.

1881

Gold Medal awarded to Coxswain Charles Fish and Silver Medals to crew members Richard Goldsmith, Henry Belsey, David Berry, Thomas Cooper Snr. Thomas Cooper Jnr. Thomas Friend, John Goldmith, Stephen Goldsmith, Henry Meader, Robert Penney and Charles Vernon also to the master and crew of the tug Vulcan, Master Alfred Page, crew members William Wharrier, William Austen, Charles Knight, Edward Revell, George Woodward and Richard Yare for a long and arduous service lasting 26 hours on 5/6 January 1881 in atrocious weather conditions and heavy seas when through their bravery, skill and determination they rescued 12 of the crew of 29 of the barque Indian Chief which was wrecked on the Long Sand while on passage to Yokohoma from Middlesborough. This was one of the finest services in the Institution’s history. The last surviving member of the lifeboat crew died in May 1931.

1890

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

1891

Gold Second-Service clasp awarded to Coxswain Charles Fish on his retirement. He had been out in the lifeboat 353 times during the past 26 years and had helped to save 877 lives.

1892

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

Silver Medal and £1 each awarded to Thomas 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 Alfred Page, Tug Master, on his retirement.

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 people whose boat had capsized off the harbour entrance in a strong west-south-westerly wind and rough sea on 14 September 1906. 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 William Cooper and Second Coxswain Thomas W Read for their gallant and persistent but unsuccessful efforts to rescue the crew of 52 of the ss Sibiria, wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 20 November 1916. The lifeboat was constantly full of water and nearly capsized on several occasions.  Also attending this service was the Kingsdown lifeboat which fought her way through and rescued the crew of the vessel and the North Deal Reserve lifeboat.

1931

Centenary Vellum awarded.

1940

1940 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".

On 24 August 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.

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.

1952

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.

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 1952. The Western Farmer had broken in two and Coxswain Kirkaldie brought the lifeboat alongside the stern part, 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.

Commemorative Vellum awarded for 150 years of service.

1953

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

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.

1975

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

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/Mechanic R Cannon, Second 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 from 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 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.

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. The Maud Smith Award for the bravest act of lifesaving in 1985 was awarded to Coxswain Cannon for this service.

1995

Tyne class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Trent class on 24 August. 1998 

1998

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

2000

A Framed Letter of Appreciation signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Mr David Acland, awarded to Coxswain Mechanic Ronald N Cannon in recognition of the initiative, seamanship and skill displayed by him when eight people were landed and the yacht Kings Legend was brought in on 24 October 1999. The service was conducted in heavy rain, Force 8-9 Gale, rough seas with a 10 foot swell. Visibility was further reduced by the wind causing spindrift on the wave tops.

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. The Maud Smith Award for the bravest act of life-saving in 1999 was awarded to Coxswain Ronald Cannon for this service. The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society presented their Lady Swaythling Trophy for outstanding seamanship to Coxswain Cannon for this service.

2000

James Michael Bower Endowment Fund Award for 1999 awarded to Ronald Cannon, as one of the two Silver Medal awardees of 1999.

2000

The new Atlantic 75 lifeboat B-765 Bob Turnbull was placed on service.

2001

On 28 November 2001 the Committee of Management voted the award of a Vellum to Ramsgate to commemorate the completion of 200 years as a lifeboat station in 2002.

2008

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the RNLI Admiral Sir Jock Slater was awarded to the Helmsman and crew, Christopher Andrews, Harvey Cole and John Rabbatts in recognition of their actions of 14 May 2008. Both Ramsgate lifeboats were launched to the yacht Spirit aground on a sandbank. At great risk to themselves the ILB crew attempted to get a line onto the yacht. Eventually a line was successfully passed by helicopter enabling the yacht to be towed to safety.

2014

The new Atlantic 85 lifeboat B-878 Claire and David Delves was placed on service on 24 September. This lifeboat was funded by the generous bequest of Mr David Frank Delves. The lifeboat B-765 Bob Turnbull has been withdrawn.

WAR RECORD (1939-1945)

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

MEDAL RECORD

Forty-two medals have been voted.  Two Gold, 39 Silver and one 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.