The Need for a New Lifeboat Station
The all weather lifeboat station at Bembridge was constructed in 1922 to house the first motorised lifeboat at the end of a long concrete pier so that the lifeboat could be launched down a slipway and straight into the deep water. It had to be modified again in 1987 to accommodate and support the current Tyne class lifeboat, which weighs 28 tonnes compared to the eight tonnes of the original motor lifeboat. Both the walkway and slipway are now suffering from concrete rot and are starting to crumble.
Max Aitken III has retired to our relief fleet in 2009, after over 20 years of service and will be replaced by the newly developed and technologically more advanced Tamar class lifeboat.
The Tamar is not only more powerful than the Tyne, but also higher, heavier and wider, meaning that she will not fit into the current boat house, which no longer meets the operational and performance requirements of a 21st century lifeboat service.
When the station was originally built in the 1920s, the volunteer crew all worked on the water and would run to the station already wearing suitable clothing for going to sea in, as soon as they heard the maroon being fired alerting them to a shout. Nowadays, due to the professions of our current crew, we need to provide them with protective oilskins and wellies, but the cramped conditions mean that there is very little room to store the clothing, which stays damp and never dries out properly.
The lack of space also means that the crew have to get changed in the little area underneath the hull of their lifeboat. The lack of space and headroom in itself is hard enough for the seven men to struggle out of their oils skins. The fact that the lifeboat is always wet on returning from service also means that she drips a lot of water into the boathouse – not very pleasant for those trying not to get their feet wet when swapping wellies for shoes.
The supporting stilts and walkway of the current boathouse are more than 80 years old and crumbling away. Waves can dangerously crash over the walkway and anyone on it.
The question has been raised as to why the RNLI doesn’t just repair and extend the current lifeboat station. This option has been looked into but it was found to be cheaper to build a new station. The current ALB boathouse will be knocked down during 2009. While the work is being carried out the Max Aitken III, has been temporarily replaced by a Mersey Class lifeboat, which is be kept at the Point in Bembridge and launched across the beach with a tractor when required.
Submit the online form
or Call 0845 650 3999 and quote ‘BLSA’
or send a donation to RNLI Bembridge Appeal, Admail 4109, Bembridge PO35 5ZS