Lyme Regis lifeboat – saving lives at sea

Blog 21st October 2019 Cobb Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is proud of its seafaring tradition and everyone involved in it, especially the brave volunteers who form the crew of the lifeboat.

Lyme Regis Lifeboat Station has a crew of around 30 men and women, volunteers from all walks of life. The current lifeboat came into service in March 2012 and is named Spirit of Loch Fyne in honour of the seafood restaurant chain which collected donations for the £180,000 vessel. The boat, an Atlantic 85 class, carries a crew of four, is capable of speeds of up to 35 knots and is fitted with the latest radar and VHF direction finding equipment. The rigid inflatable is launched into the water by trailer and special tractor unit.

The Lyme Regis lifeboat station first opened in 1826 and after many dramatic incidents, including the loss of five crew on Boxing Day 1852, the station was disbanded in 1932 as motorised lifeboats from Exmouth and Weymouth were considered sufficient to cover Lyme Bay.

In 1937, with only local boats acting again as lifeboats in an emergency, the Royal Air Force Marine Craft Unit came to the town and operated their fast patrol and safety launches from the site of what is now the Boat Building Academy, west of The Cobb on Monmouth Beach.

The RAF unit was closed in 1964 and with the boom in recreational boating and with Lyme being a thriving holiday resort, a lifeboat was once again considered to be essential, resulting in the reinstatement of the volunteer services in the summer of 1967. Since then there has been over 1,000 call outs with many lives saved over the years.

Several buildings have housed the lifeboat which was originally kept in a yard on the site of the Cobb Arms pub until the mid-nineteenth century. The town’s first purpose built boathouse was built in 1884 followed by a bigger and more practical boathouse constructed in 1896. After the closure of the station in 1932 it was converted into a shop and today stands as The Slipway shop on the corner, opposite the present station.

With the reopening of the lifeboat service in 1967, a new boathouse was built in just three weeks by local volunteers, east of the former RAF slipway at the head of the Cobb. But with the development of inshore lifeboats and the arrival of the new Atlantic class rescue craft, a new headquarters was built and officially opened in April 1998, incorporating a dedicated training room, operations room, casualty recovery room and office.