The RNLI in 1967
Fifty years ago this week Margate’s new RNLI inshore lifeboat carried out its first service call. The arrival of this new lifeboat was to greatly enhance the local rescue service and save over 500 lives over the next half-century.
Margate was an obvious choice to receive what, at the time was, a revolutionary development for the RNLI. The boat supplemented the larger offshore lifeboat and the provision of the two vessels has proved to be the ideal combination to serve the local seafaring community since.
Les Manning, an original crew member, remembers those early days. He said: “Compared to the modern inshore lifeboat, fifty-years ago things were a little more basic. The lifeboat carried a crew of just two [compared to three now] and the protective clothing was very basic. Comparing with the modern drysuits and PPE worn today we reminisce by telling today’s crew that we used to wear bin liners!
There was also no radio on board in those days so we carried a supply of coins and would go ashore and ring the coastguard for updates if we could not locate the casualty.”
The first call came on 19 June 1966 when early in the morning, while setting out for a day’s fishing the lifeboat coxswain Alf Manning sighted a yacht aground on the Nayland Rock. The crew required refloating when the tide flooded and shortly after, the IRB set out on its first rescue mission, crewed by Alf Lacey (station mechanic) and Albert Scott (assistant mechanic). The lifeboat assisted the yacht in refloating on the rising tide.
Paul Hodson, Margate lifeboat operations manager said: “The arrival of the inshore lifeboat greatly enhanced the service the station was able to offer. The combination of the fast rapid-response ILB for calls close inshore along with the larger all-weather lifeboat for more difficult rescue missions has proved to be the ideal combination for the profile of the rescue requirement at Margate and one the RNLI has continued with for half a century and are planning to continue with into the future with the replacement of the Mersey class lifeboat with a new Shannon class.