The Redcar lifeboat station has the distinction of being one of the oldest of all the lifeboat stations maintained round the coasts of the British Isles. It is in fact older than the Institution itself by over 20 years, being established in 1802.
The first lifeboat was built at Tynemouth in 1789. Her builder was Henry Greathead. The lifeboat Original was on service for over forty years until she was dashed on to rocks and broken in two. She was a 30ft open rowing boat and had no means of ridding herself of water other than by baling. In the next 14 years Greathead built 31 lifeboats to the same model. One of these was the Zetland built in 1800 and stationed at Redcar two years later. She easily surpassed the long service of her elder sister Original, and actually carried out a service in 1880 when no other lifeboat was available rescuing the crew of the brig Luna. This lifeboat is still preserved at Redcar.
The station was maintained by the Tyne Tees Lifeboat Society until it was taken over by the Institution in 1857.
In the early days the assembly signal for the Redcar crew was an alarm drum and the lifeboat was drawn on a carriage by 20 horses.
Gold Medal awarded to Lt R E Pym RN, for the rescue of 10 people from the coal laden brig Aurora that was wrecked in a heavy gale and tremendous seas off the mouth of the River Tees on 14 August 1829. The sea was so violent it washed over the lifeboat to such an extent that the lifeboatmen had to be lashed to their seats.
Bowman William Guy was washed out of the lifeboat Zetland on 25 December when on service to the Brig Caroline.
Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Robert Shieldon for the rescue of eight people from the barque Emma that was cast onto rocks near the mouth of the River Tees on 5 January 1857.
New lifeboat house erected at the cost of £150.
The Redcar private lifeboat took part in and won a race with lifeboats from Redcar (Inst), West Hartlepool and Whitby Fishermen's Lifeboat.
Alterations carried out to lifeboat house at a cost of £175.
Mr Dawson of Otley offered to present to the Institution his private lifeboat Free Gardner that had been kept there for about 10 years. The Committee of Management declined to accept it.
The carriage of the old private lifeboat which was nearly 100 years old broke down and the men to whom the boat belonged requested the Institution to give them four front wheels to enable them to provide a trolley for their boat. The Institution complied with their request.
Set of horse launching poles supplied.
Steam trawler Honoria was driven ashore as Marske. The Saltburn lifeboat attended and seven fishermen from Redcar launched their coble to assist the Honoria’s crew. The coble was overturned and three men lost their lives – Richard Picknett, John Picknett and Edmund Pickett. John and Edward were the sons of Thomas Hood Picknett who was also in the coble and was Richard’s brother.
On the launch of the lifeboat on 21 January on service, a Mrs Margaret Emmans was knocked down by the carriage and killed; two other women were injured. They were all helping to launch the lifeboat as no horses were available to pull the carriage.
Centenary Vellum awarded to station.
150th Year Commemorative Vellum presented.
D class lifeboat sent to the station in July.
All-weather lifeboat withdrawn on 22 March and replaced by an Atlantic 21 lifeboat.
The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Helmsman Rodney J Thompson and crew members Peter Hodge when the Atlantic 21 class lifeboat Lord Brotherton on temporary duty at Redcar went to the assistance of the two crew from the fishing vessel Gang Warily which was aground at the foot of the steep cliffs at Hunt cliff in a north-east by easterly near gale, heavy breaking seas and darkness of the evening of 26 August 1989. Helmsman Thompson skilfully manoeuvred the lifeboat close inshore and crew member Hodge entered the water and swam to the rocky shore in an attempt to rescue the two crew. This was a joint service with the Teesmouth lifeboat whose Coxswain, Peter Rowland Race, was awarded the Bronze Medal.
Bronze Medal awarded to Helmsman Peter Hodge in recognition of the courage and leadership displayed by him when the Atlantic 21 class lifeboat Leicester Challenge rescued two people and a dog cut off by the tide at the base of Hunt cliff, four and a half miles east-south-east of the station, in a north-north-westerly fresh breeze and heavy breaking seas on 19 January 1992. The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to crew member Barry Wheater for volunteering to swim ashore with a general purpose line, to crew member Mark Reeves for his efforts in the lifeboat, and to crew member Derek Robinson for repeatedly taking depth soundings to ensure the safety of the lifeboat and going ashore to assist Barry Wheater.
Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman, Sir Michael Vernon, were awarded to Helmsman Michael Picknett and crew members Michael Hoyle, Barry Knaggs and Gordon Young for the service on 16 April when the lifeboat rescued two boys cut off by the tide at the base of Hunt cliff.
New D class lifeboat D523 placed on service on 23 July.
A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Mr David Acland, was presented to Helmsman Mark Greaves, and crew members Tony Wild and Derek Robinson for the rescue of a man cut off by the tide at Penny Hole on 30 May 1999. The rescue was carried out in heavy break swell, and both inshore lifeboats were damaged in the rescue.
On 28 November 2001 the Committee of Management voted the award of a Vellum to Redcar to commemorate the completion of 200 years as a lifeboat station in 2002.
The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Helmsman Mark Reeves, helmsman of the Atlantic class lifeboat, in recognition of his actions when the lifeboat rescued a lifeguard from the sea in heavy surf on 15 August 2003. The 2003 Walter & Elizabeth Groombridge Award for the most outstanding service by an Atlantic class lifeboat during the year was awarded to Mark Reeves for this service.
The new IB1 D class lifeboat D677 Jacky Hunsley was placed on service on 8 August. This lifeboat was provided by the generous bequest of Miss Jacky Hunsley. Lifeboat D516 has been withdrawn.
Helmsman Michael Picknett accorded the Thanks of the Institute inscribed on Vellum for in recognition of his judgement, seamanship skill and leadership. Framed letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the institution was accorded to crew members Mark Reeves and Barry Knaggs in recognition of the service when the inshore lifeboat rescued a man who had been swept into the sea at the South Gare Breakwater on the afternoon of 24 October 2011. The large man was in confused and clapotic seas within five metres of a jagged concrete wall and the helmsman’s options were further limited by a shoal area and waves breaking over the lifeboat. Having got the lifeboat alongside the man, Picknett had to momentarily leave the helm to assist his two crew members to recover him into the lifeboat, before heading to calmer waters and safety.
One Gold One Silver and one Bronze have been awarded.