Fleetwood Lifeboat Station
Fleetwood has had a lifeboat station for more than 150 years, since 1859. There have been six incarnations in various places over the years.
The current purpose built premises opened in 2006. The modern building houses Fleetwood RNLI and HM Coastguard. Carry on reading to find out about the Coastguard. To the rear of the building is the lifeboat launch facility, straight into the Wyre channel.
Inside there are various offices and a classroom, along with all the facilities for storing and maintaining the lifeboats.
The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea.
In Fleetwood, fishing, boats, the seashore (with all it’s dangerous tides and channels) and all things nautical are embedded in the fabric of daily life. With it come dangers so the RNLI is a vital charity which many people would have been in serious trouble without.
Fleetwood Lifeboat has a crew of 25 volunteers who go out in the boats and answer emergency calls. They save lives and rescue people. It might be not much more than a minor skirmish with the water or a full blown, serious incident, which can and do claim lives.
Fleetwood RNLI has a separate Fundraising and events group. They raise money and awareness throughout the year, to support the work of the RNLI all over the UK.
Their fundraising is absolutely vital. The money pays for the equipment, boats, infrastructure, training, and much, much more, all of which enables the RNLI and lifeboats to operate.
Have you visited the excellent RNLI shop? It stocks a really good range of quality gifts and products. All of which help to raise vital funds for the charity which saves lives at sea.
An amazing group of volunteers staff the shop and keep it open. Pop in and take a look!
The RNLI relies entirely on donations from the public to function. Your generosity enables Fleetwood Lifeboat Station and over 300 others to operate around our shores. In 2015, it cost over £160 million pounds to keep our coastline safe.
Shop opening hours:
From Saturday 19 January
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday from 11am-3pm
From Saturday 23 March
Seven days a week from 10am-4pm
Shop phone number – 01253 878050
HM Coastguard Fleetwood
HM Coastguard Fleetwood was formed in 1858. It’s been stationed in several places since then. The Coastguard now shares the building at The Esplanade with the RNLI.
Over the last few years HMCG has undergone huge changes and behind the scenes it’s almost unrecognisable to those who knew it. Better training and equipment and a steady increase in the number of incidents has evolved the Fleetwood team into a multi-role unit.
It’s a 17 strong team and, like all Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRTs), is made up of volunteers from all walks of life. They give up a lot of their time to assist others in need. They are trained and tasked by the full time service and once out and about are mostly self-reliant.
It doesn’t matter what time of day CRTs are called out or in what weather conditions. They have very understanding and patient families and are experts in doing a day’s work after a sleepless night.
Coastguard Teams on the Fylde
Teams are spaced around the coast according to need and Fleetwood is flanked by Lytham and Knott End.
Fleetwood Coastguard operate with RNLI from Fleetwood and Blackpool and occasionally Morecambe and Lytham. Air support is provided from our own Rescue Helicopters (usually from Caernarfon in Wales). NCI Rossall Point and Beach Lifeguards also help where required.
What the Coastguard Does
A huge range of incidents present themselves, and teams can be tasked to assist other ‘Category 1’ emergency services. They are Police, Fire and Ambulance, plus their own operations.
Every year they deal with:
- mud or quicksand rescues,
- searches for missing or despondent persons,
- recovery of injured or deceased persons,
- pollution control,
- objects washed up on the foreshore (including ‘Royal Fish’ – whales, porpoises, dolphins etc.)
- to name but a few.
Generally teams are involved in anything which occurs in the marine environment, but recently the scope has widened.
Flood and Fire Assistance
HMCG Fleetwood is located in the centre of operational area 15 which stretches from Llandudno in Wales to the Scottish border.
Each area has a flood rescue capability to assist DEFRA anywhere in the UK. Fleetwood and Knott End teams hold the extra vehicles and trailers dedicated to this task used year round, and are ready to respond when required. That could be transporting kit to the scene or providing the man (and lady) power.
In 2018 many of the Lancashire and Cumbria teams provided logistical support for the Fire Service during the moor fires on Winter Hill.
The surprise of the Coastguard being at such an incident was summed up whilst filling up a water tank on one of the off-road vehicles. A team member was asked “Are you lost?” Ironically by a London Fire Brigade firefighter! A truly memorable experience which brought out the best in our emergency services and humanity in general.
The Only National 999 Service
Around 5% of the UK population live near the coast. A large number of people are also unaware that HMCG is the only national 999 service and has no county boundaries. Every part of the service is the same from kit to training.
Remember this message:
- If you are in difficulty at or near the coast, dial 999 and ask for Coastguard.
- They’ll be there and arrange for other services to attend.
- HM Coastguard – To Search, To Rescue, To Save.
History of HM Coastguard
Originally they operated a boat which was kept behind the old Coastguard cottages on Abbots Walk, back when Promenade Road was a mere inlet from the sea. Then in 1859 the Officers formed the town’s first Lifeboat crew.
Later a new base was created on Princes Way where a pair of semi-detached houses provided homes for the 2 full time officers. Garages and office facilities were to the rear. Across the golf course at Rossall Point was a permanently manned lookout operating 24 hrs a day. The town also had what was called a Coastguard Rescue Company. It wasn’t a business but a team dedicated to Breaches Buoy Rescue from shipwrecks. The team were regularly champions in competitions until helicopters replaced the kit in the late 1980’s.
The tower at Rossall Point ceased to be 24hr around the same time as modern communication systems improved. Technology reduced the need for humans to keep visual watch for distress flares. The tower was given back to the Council in 1995 following a national review of building requirements and the base of it still remains next to the new tower on the Point.
HM Coastguard (HMCG) Fleetwood continued to operate from the offices on Princes Way until 2005. Around the turn of the Millennium the team’s base was in poor condition and the old wooden RNLI station was due for replacement. The two teams had a dream of co-locating but this was met with strong resistance from on high. Luckily the teams were determined that it could work. After much discussion and negotiation it was given approval. As a smaller team HMCG didn’t need a lot of space and took a quarter of the new building on the old RNLI site.
The New Fleetwood Lifeboat
Costing over £2 million, the new Shannon Class all weather lifeboat replaced the Tyne Class lifeboat in 2016. The new vessel ensures the future of Fleetwood Lifeboat station for many years to come.
In the next clip see it sailing into the station, only a few days after its arrival in Fleetwood
It also recognises the importance of the work carried out by the volunteer crew. The crew has received 15 awards for gallantry over the years.
The new Shannon Class is the first lifeboat to use water jets, instead of propellers. It’s capable of reaching 25 knots, which is 50% faster than the ‘Tyne’ class lifeboat it replaced. The William Street had served the RNLI well, having been operational since 1989.
Read more about the arrival of the Kenneth James Pierpoint further down this page.
In addition, RNLI Fleetwood boasts a second inshore lifeboat, a ‘D’ class rib, named Mary Elizabeth Barnes. Inshore lifeboats have been used in Fleetwood since 1966. They’re the workhorses of the RNLI fleet.
50th Anniversary of Lifeboat Workhorses
The RNLI lifeboat workhorses, the ‘D’ class inshore lifeboats boats, have been saving lives for many years. May 2016 marks the 50th anniversary, since the first inshore lifeboat (ILB) arrived at Fleetwood RNLI.
The first ILB was unnamed, numbered No.91 and arrived for a summer season at the beginning of May, 1966. Since then, five more ILB’s, the latest named Mary Elizabeth Barnes, have been ‘on service’ at Fleetwood. They work alongside the larger all-weather lifeboat.
Their arrival in 1966 helped save the lives of around 120 people and they’ve been in almost 1,000 operations, in the past 50 years.
The ‘D’ class ILB’s have a crew of either two or three and reach speeds of 25 knots. It’s a vital asset to the volunteer lifeboat crew at Fleetwood, especially when rescuing bathers or walkers cut off by incoming tides.
Captain Dave Eccles, RNLI Fleetwood Lifeboat Operations Manager said ‘’ The introduction of the RNLI inshore lifeboat has ensured many more lives have been saved by the volunteer lifeboat crews, around our shores.’’
History of Fleetwood RNLI
In February 1859, the first lifeboat arrived in Fleetwood at its new boathouse, built on the beach opposite the North Euston Hotel.
When Captain Edward Wasey first appealed to the RNLI for a lifeboat in Fleetwood, he could have had no idea how successful the decision would be. Over more than 160 years RNLI volunteers have saved nearly 700 lives.
The first lifeboat, a 30 foot, six oared ‘Peake’ class, which was unnamed, was kept on a special launching carriage. It was built at a cost of £140. John Cox, Chief Boatman to the local Coastguard, was appointed Coxswain.
In contrast, Fleetwood RNLI latest Shannon class lifeboat, Kenneth James Pierpoint cost £2.2 million. It’s the 12th all-weather lifeboat to serve at Fleetwood. She rests in the seventh lifeboat station to be built near the Euston Gardens. Alongside the all-weather lifeboats, Fleetwood RNLI has also had ‘D’ class lifeboats serving at the lifeboat station, since 1966.
Current Coxswain, Tony Cowell said “It’s a tremendous feeling to be part of this town’s history. The lifeboat has been part of the community for 160 years and saved many lives. But it’s also been an important service to Fleetwood, operating alongside its historical fishing industry.
“However, without local support over the years it would have been impossible to continue. On the annual Lifeboat Day we like to say a massive thank you to everyone”.
Find out More
Fleetwood Lifeboat Station, The Esplanade, Fleetwood, FY7 6DN
Tel: 01253 874000 (Dial 999 in an emergency)
More about the Fleetwood Lifeboat
New Home for the William Street
Did you know that the retired Fleetwood RNLI lifeboat is still helping to save lives? The Tyne class lifeboat William Street, which retired from service in August 2016, has found a new home in Mallaig, in Scotland.
It’s currently being used by Pete Fowler at Seafari Adventures, who have a contract to transport the local GP and other health workers, twice weekly, to communities on the Small Isles, Eigg, Rhum, Muck and Canna, at the southern end of Skye.
The William Street left it’s home at Fleetwood lifeboat station in August 2016 and Pete purchased her in December 2017. She was transported up to Ardrossan and then sailed to her new home port.
There have been no changes to the Tyne class lifeboat, other than she has a new colour scheme and a new name, Amelia.
Pete said, ‘Given the changeable weather we have in the area, it made sense to choose an all-weather lifeboat, to ensure a good service for our isolated communities.’
The William Street arrived at RNLI Fleetwood in 1989 and over its 27 years of service with the volunteer lifeboat crew, made more than 500 rescues and saved 527 lives. It was also involved in the Riverdance incident and was on service for over 20 hours in appalling weather on that fateful night.
William Street was a benefactor from Bury, who helped many charities when he was alive. The Bury Ladies Lifeboat Guild were instrumental in obtaining funds from the legacy left by William Street. Their association is still as strong as ever with Fleetwood RNLI.
Fleetwood RNLI say farewell to William Street
On 30th August 2016 the volunteer lifeboat crew said a sad farewell to their Tyne class lifeboat, William Street. After 27 years of active service she has been replaced by the Shannon class lifeboat, Kenneth James Pierpoint.
The lifeboat crew launched William Street at 8.30pm and went for one last trip up the Wyre channel. They were accompanied by the inshore lifeboat, Mary Elizabeth Barnes. She made her way to Fleetwood Marina to be lifted out of the water and taken to RNLI HQ in Poole, Dorset.
Fleetwood lifeboat Captain Dave Eccles said, ‘It’s obviously very sad to see her go, she’s got us out of some tight spots over the years. But she’s helped us saved lives for 27 years and now it’s time for her to step aside and let the new generation lifeboat, the Shannon class, take over’.
Fleetwood RNLI name new Lifeboat
23 July 2016 was a warm and sunny day at Fleetwood Marina. A perfect day for the new Shannon class Fleetwood RNLI lifeboat to be officially named, Kenneth James Pierpoint, number 13-14.
Wing Commander Paul Bell (below), from 605 Squadron, was present to hand over the lifeboat over to the RNLI, on behalf of the donors.
Charles Hunter-Pease OBE, Chairman of RNLI was hardly into his welcome speech, before the pagers went off and the inshore crew rushed off to a call out. A fitting reminder of the commitment the volunteer lifeboat crew give to the RNLI.
The large crowd, joined by High Sheriff of Lancashire, John Barnett OBE DL and Mayor of Wyre, Terry Rogers, were entertained by the Sea Cadets Old Boys Band.
Kenneth James Pierpoint was a Flight Officer with 605 Squadron when he crashed and was tragically killed in 1942. His sister, Kathleen, left a substantial legacy to the RNLI with a wish that a lifeboat be named after him. Following a service, led by Bishop of Lancaster, Right Reverend Geoffrey Pearson, Wing Commander Bell officially named the lifeboat and it was, as tradition has it, christened with champagne.
Captain David Eccles, Lifeboat Operations Manager for RNLI Fleetwood said, ‘This has been a fantastic weekend for Fleetwood lifeboat. The amount of support we receive from the public never fails to impress us. We are so grateful for the legacies, donations and good will we receive. Without them, our work would be impossible. We can’t thank them enough.’
Arrival of the new Shannon Class Lifeboat at Fleetwood Lifeboat Station
Sunday 26 June at 1pm
The Band & Corp of Drums of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Lancashire) attended and played at the arrival of the new Shannon lifeboat. The ‘Kenneth James Pierpoint’ arrived by sea at 1.14pm on Sunday 26th June, at Fleetwood Lifeboat Station.
The current lifeboat, ‘William Street’ and the D class inshore lifeboat, ‘Mary Elizabeth Barnes’, met the new lifeboat at sea and escort her to her new home.
Thanks to Fleetwood TV for this video clip of the celebrations to welcome the new lifeboat to shore
Click on the image below to see a full album of photos from the event
Who is Fleetwood Lifeboat Named For?
The new ‘Shannon’ class lifeboat replaces the ‘Mersey’ class boat, the ‘’William Street’’.
The new lifeboat is named the ‘’Kenneth James Pierpoint’’. But who was Kenneth James Pierpoint ?
Born in Altrincham in 1922, Ken attended local schools before going on to study at Cambridge University. He gave up his degree course to join the Royal Air Force through the Volunteer Reserves. His aptitude for flying and commitment to the RAF, quickly earned him the rank of Pilot Officer. Plus a posting to 605 Squadron, based at RAF Ford, in Sussex, in August 1942. But his career was short lived as he was tragically killed, a few days after arriving at Ford, in a flying accident on the 28 August, 1942, aged just 20.
It was reported that whilst undergoing night flight practice in a Boston aircraft, Pilot Officer Pierpoint was dazzled by searchlights and crashed between Ford and Bognor Regis.
The RNLI’s benefactor Kathleen and the sister of Ken Pierpoint, was 15 at the time and lived with this tragic memory for a further 70 years. The RNLI and Fleetwood Lifeboat Station are very grateful to Kathleen that she chose to honour her brother and ensure his memory would live on for many years.
It is fitting that the motto of 605 RAF Reserve Squadron was ‘’NUNQUAM DORMIO’’, translated as ‘I never sleep’. It perfectly fits the lifeboat that will be named after him.
While you’re here…
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