The History of Hoylake LifeboatAdapted with kind permission of Jeff Morris of the Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society
Hoylake is situated on the north west corner of the Wirral Peninsula overlooking the picturesque Dee Estuary, with the hills of North Wales as a backdrop. As attractive as the scene is, the famous Sands of Dee are also notoriously treacherous, with many a vessel having come to grief on the various sandbanks and many a modern day visitor being caught out by the speed of the incoming tide.
Hoylake Lifeboat Station is one of the oldest on the coasts of the UK and Ireland and was founded by the Liverpool Docks Trustees, which built the first lifeboat station, in 1803. The station was taken over by the RNLI in 1894. For a time there was also a Lifeboat Station on Hilbre Island in the Dee Estuary, which was also manned by the volunteer crew from Hoylake. The Hilbre Island Lifeboat Station was closed in the 1930s. Hoylake Lifeboat Station celebrated its bicentenary in 2003.
Following the RNLI taking over the operation of the Hoylake Lifeboat, the original lifeboat station was demolished and replaced by a red brick building on the new Hoylake Promenade in 1897. A tractor shed was added to this building in later years. The building was home to the Hoylake Lifeboat for over 100 years until it became unsuitable for modern operational requirements. In 2007 the RNLI launched an ambitious £2 million appeal to fund and build a new state-of-the-art lifeboat station. This new lifeboat station was built on the site of the old Hoylake open-air swimming baths and officially opened its doors in Novemeber 2008.
Hoylake has always operated a carriage launched lifeboat due to the distance that sometimes must be travelled from the shore to the tide line, which at low tide can be more than 1.5 miles. In the early years the lifeboat was pulled to the water by a team of horses owned by a Hoylake blacksmith - frames for storing the harnesses can still be seen on the wall of the current boathouse. Tractors eventually replaced the role of horses and today the lifeboat and carriage are towed by a state-of-the-art Supacat launch and recovery vehicle, which has been specifically designed to launch the Shannon Class lifeboat.
Historic Shouts and Awards
Since the RNLI took over the station, two silver and five bronze medals have been awarded to the crew of Hoylake.
On 22nd December 1810, the Hoylake Lifeboat was tasked to a vessel called "Traveller", which was aground in the River Mersey in a fierce storm and in danger of being lost. Tragically, while on her way to the casualty, the Hoylake Lifeboat was swamped by an enormous wave and all eight of her crew perished. A memorial to the crew lost in this tragedy stands outside the lifeboat station today.
On 16th - 17th October 1902 the Hoylake Lifeboat rescued the nine crew of the Barque Matador of Riga, which was caught in a severe gale and very heavy seas. A silver medal was awarded to Coxswain Thomas Dodd and the Imperial Russian Association for Life-Saving on Waters awarded the crew their First Class Certificate of Merit for this service. This illuminated certificate is still on display in the boathouse.
In 1943 bronze medals were awarded to Coxswain Herbert Jones, crewman Ben Armitage and Coastguard WJ Widdup for the rescue of the occupants of a small dingy that was out of control on the lee shore in a strong westerly wind and very rough sea. Coxswain Jones considered the time it would take to muster the crew, launch and position the lifeboat would take too long, so a rowing boat was used to rescue the casualties.
A bronze medal was awarded to Coxswain Harold (Danny) Triggs for a service to the tug "Diane" in which two lives were saved. The tug had sunk and the crew were on the wheelhouse roof when Coxswain Triggs put the lifeboat alongside and plucked the men to safety.
On 20th September 1979 the Hoylake Lifeboat saved the catamaran "Truganini" and her three crew which was caught in a westerly storm and very rough seas. A bronze medal was awarded to Coxswain Harry Jones and the RNLI Thanks on Vellum accorded to Second Coxswain John McDermott and crewman David Dodd (both who later served as Coxswain) for this service. Medal service certificates were also awarded to crewmembers Geoff Ormrod (also later Coxswain), Peter Jones, Alan Tolley and Gordon Bird.
In August 1992 Hoylake's Mersey Class lifeboat "Lady of Hilbre" rescued the Polish tall ship "Warszawska Nike" and her nine crew, which got into difficulties in very rough seas and a gale force winds during a tall ships race. After almost 12 hours at sea, the lifeboat towed the vessel to safety in Birkenhead. Coxswain John McDermott and all his crew were congratulated by the RNLI for their fine seamanship and professionalism.
Honorary Secretaries / LOMs at Hoylake
|W.C.Glover||1894 - 1902||D.Geldart||1961 - 1968|
|J.W.Jopson||1902 - 1904||W.E.Kirkbride||1968 - 1973|
|W.B.Charles||1904 - 1909||J.A.Howard||1973 - 1977|
|J.P.Brocklebank||1909 - 1910||L.J.Farrall||1977 - 1980|
|C.W.Slater||1910 - 1919||D.Geldart||1980 - 1985|
|D.W.Hesselgrave||1919 - 1940||J.L.Ardus||1985 - 1995|
|A.Wilson||1940 - 1941||M.Hurley||1997 - 2002|
|G.F.Gibson||1940 - 1941||J.L.Curry||2002 - 2016|
|G.F.Gibson||1941 - 1949||D.A.Whiteley BEM||2016 -|
|H.H.Davies||1949 - 1961|
Coxswains at Hoylake & Hilbre
|Thomas Seed||1803 - 1808||William Henry Jones||1946 - 1948|
|Joseph Bennett||1808 - 1822||Benjamin Stanton Armitage||1948 - 1951|
|1822 - 1840||John Henry Bird||1951 - 1963|
|George Davies||1840 - 1865||Harold (Danny) Triggs||1963 - 1974|
|John Bird||1865 - 1890||Thomas Henry Jones||1974 - 1981|
|Samuel (Joshua) Armitage||1890 - 1894||John Gordon McDermott||1981 - 1997|
|Thomas Dodd||1894 - 1916||David Arthur Dodd MBE||1997 - 1998|
|Arthur Thomas Dodd||1916 - 1919||Geoff Ormrod||1998 - 2001|
|John Sherlock||1919 - 1929||David Anthony Whiteley BEM||2001 - 2016|
|Herbert Jones||1929 - 1946||Andrew Thomas Dodd||2016 -|
2nd Coxswains at Hoylake & Hilbre
|John Parr||1896 - 1900||Leslie Parkinson||1948 - 1951|
|Jonathon Cooper||1900 - 1902||Harold Triggs||1951 - 1963|
|Joseph Barlow||1902 - 1908||Thomas Henry Jones||1963 - 1974|
|George Hughes||1908 - 1916||John Gordon McDermott||1974 - 1981|
|John Sherlock||1916 - 1919||David Arthur Dodd||1981 - 1997|
|John Cooper||1919 - 1920||Alan Tolley||1997 - 1999|
|William Henry Sherlock||1920 - 1929||David Anthony Whiteley||1999 - 2001|
|Herbert Jones||1919 - 1929||Gareth William Bird||1999 - 2004|
|Fredrick A Jones||1929 - 1931||Andrew Thomas Dodd||2004 - 2016|
|William Henry Jones||1921 - 1946||Anthony Warburton||2016 -|
|Benjamin Stanton Armitage||1946 - 1948|
Motor Mechanics at Hoylake
|Frank Doyle||1931 - 1951||Peter Langley||1999 - 2005|
|Fred Campion||1951 - 1974||David Mackenzie||2005 - 2009|
|Jeffrey Kernighan||1974 - 1997||Andrew Thomas Dodd||2009 -|
|Alan Tolley||1997 - 1999|