The History of Whitby and its Lifeboats
On March 4, 1824, The Royal National lifeboat institution was founded by Sir William Hillary, with the idea to organise a National lifeboat service. For a number of years before this there had been various private life boats in service.
The first boat to be built specifically for use as a lifeboat was the very aptly named Original, which was built at South Shields in 1789.
In 1802, Lloyds announced that they were allocating £2000 towards the establishment of a new lifeboat station, with a gentleman called Frances Gibson being a collector of customs in Whitby, he approaches Lloyd’s for financial help in forming a lifeboat station in Whitby.
Lloyds contributed 50 British pounds, most of the money being raised locally and a new life arrived in Whitby in the autumn of 1802.
Built by Greathead at a cost of £160 the boat was 30 feet long, rowed 10 oars and was kept on a special launching carriage in a lifeboat house built close to the West Pier in Whitby.
It wasn’t long before the lifeboat was in use, because on December 11, 1802 she served the crew of the sloop Edinburgh.
In 1822, two new lifeboats were built for use in Whitby, with the one that re-placed Greathead being built by Wake, of Sunderland at a cost of £100. This new BOAT was 26’6” long, and was kept in the original boathouse which was known as the West side lifeboat. The other boat was known as the East side lifeboat and was 26 feet long, with this one being built by a local boat builder called Mr Christopher Gale. This boat was launched from the davits pull the underside of Take Hill Pier, where there had been a specially constructed wooden boat house built from the pier to protect the ship.
In 1827 on fabric the 17th five vessels were wrecked off Whitby during a very severe storm. There were the Oak, Comet, Harry and Mary all of Whitby, the Travel of Sunderland and the Ann of Stockton, all the crews saved by the two lifeboats.
RNLI not only established its own lifeboat stations, but also was awarded gold and silver medals for acts of outstanding bravery carried out in lifeboats, shore boats and during rescues from the shore. The bronze medal was not instituted until 1917.
Mary Ann Hepworth afterlife or of Whitby is now used as a pleasure boat
Today in Whitby the ship called Mary Ann Hepworth which is a 41 foot Watson, is now used for pleasure trips, but it served Whitby between 1938 1974 as a lifeboat. The ship was launched 372 times on service at Whitby, serving a total of 201 lives.