Archive for the ‘Lifeboat’ Tag

Mary Stanford Lifeboat House   6 comments

This rundown building that stands on the shore near Rye Harbour is a grade 2 listed building. It is an old lifeboat house that has remained unused since 15th November 1928. On that day the Mary Stanford lifeboat was launched with a crew of 17 to answer the distress call of a Latvian ship named ‘Alice of Riga’ which had been in a collision with a German ship named ‘Smyrna’. The wind was blowing in excess of 80 mph, as the crew manhandled the 4 ton boat over the shingle and sand, then pushed off into the storm. As they rowed away word was received that the crew of the troubled ship had all been saved. The lifeboat crew could not see the signals from the shore, and continued on. The storm overcame them and all 17 perished. The full details can be read here or there is a great video here that tells the story with images of the boat and crew which is worth watching all the way through.

The boat house is one and a half miles from Rye Harbour, this map shows how isolated is it.

The sea defences have been installed since 1928 as far as I know, this view was taken from the sea’s edge (or close, I didn’t get my feet wet). The tide was about half way out at the time, however there are large areas of sand flats where the shingle ends and at low tide the sea is at least another 100 meters further out. Snow Patrol filmed one of their music videos here.

Exposed to the elements and covered with people’s initial’s scratched into the brickwork the boat house has a certain character. It is not totally abandoned though as fund raising is in progress to restore it and possibly add a ‘coastal classroom’ for local children to use. I’m all for change and education, I think this building would lose it’s visual impact if changed too much.

The impact of the distaster on the local community was huge and will never be forgotten.

The crew’s memorial is in Rye Harbour church, which is here.

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