Over two thousand ships are believed to have been wrecked on the Goodwin Sands
, and the masts of several wrecks are visible from the shore at low tide. Hence there have always been two lifeboats located at the joined towns
along the coast opposite the sands.
In 1830, Gold Medals were awarded to Captain P Graham RN, Lieut HW Johnson RN and Lieut WS Watts RN, and a Silver Medal to John Durban for rescuing 13 crew from the ship Mountaineer and three other Deal boatmen on 24 November 1829. It was 26 years later, however, in 1856, that an actual lifeboat station was established.
In 1896 Crew Member E Young drowned when he was trying to board the steamship Trapian from the lifeboat. From 1912 to 1927 the station was closed, but when it re-opened the lifeboat was kept on a launching cradle at the head of the beach and soon afterwards, from 1930, the station had its first motor lifeboat.
World War Two
During World War II
, Deal had two lifeboats, the Charles Dibden
and the Frances Forbes Barton
; William Stanton was coxswain of the “Frances Forbes Barton”In 1944 a Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Joseph Mercer for rescuing 13 men from an anti-submarine boat stranded on the Goodwin Sands.
Postwar to present
Walmer's last all-weather lifeboat was the “Hampshire Rose”. In 1964 an inshore lifeboat (ILB) station was established with a D class lifeboat
. The "Hampshire Rose" was retired from service on 5th May 1990
and, with the addition of a B class Atlantic 21
lifeboat (for whose launching rig the boathouse was then extended in 1992), Walmer was permanently established as an inshore lifeboat station. A new Atlantic 21, B-589 James Burgess, was placed on service in 1992, in the same year as a visit by the Queen Mother as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and on 22nd January 1997 a new D class lifeboat, D-514 Lord Kitchener, was placed on service.
A new Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, B-808 Donald Mclauchlan, was put on station in December 2006, along with a new IB1 dclass D-663 Douggie Rodbard.
At Walmer lifeboat station the following awards have been made:
- Framed Letter of Thanks 6, including
- 1978, to Coxswain Bruce Brown and Second Coxswain Cyril Williams for refloating the vessel Elmela off the Goodwin Sands.
- 1985, to Helmsman Anthony Evans for rescuing two men who were cut off by the tide after their canoe had capsized.
- 1991, to Crew Members John Collins and Shaun East for the Josse rescue.
- Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum 10, including
- 1969, to Helmsman Bruce Brown and Crew Members Cyril Williams and John Riley for rescuing four people cut off by the tide.
- 1970 Along with the Ralph Glister Award, to Helmsman Cyril Williams and Crew Members Leslie Coe and Charles Taylor for rescuing two men cut off by the tide in a cave.
- 1972, to Coxswain Henry Brown for saving the yacht Nell and her six crew, plus a cat.
- 1991 to Helmsman Duane Brown for rescuing the three crew from the yacht Josse aground on Goodwin Sands.
- 2002 to Helmsman Andrew Coe,Philip Brenchly and Adam Cowell fot the rescue of the 32ft yacht thai thai off the goodwin sands.
- Bronze Medal 4, including
- 1977, to Coxswain Bruce Brown for rescuing the four crew from the sinking cabin cruiser Shark, along with the Second Coxswain who had become trapped in the cabin. Also awarded to Pat Hardman, who, with the aid of Bruce Brown was able to rescue Cyril Williams and the four crew of the ship.
- Silver Medal 4, including
- 1859, to John Moss for saving one man from the tender of the lugger Stornoway on 19 December 1858.
- 1948, to Coxswain Frederick Upton and Bronze Medal to Mechanic Cecil Cavell for rescuing 30 men, including two stowaways, and a dog from the steamer Silvia Onorato aground on the Goodwin Sands. The lifeboat spent 45 hours at sea. The Maud Smith Award for the bravest act of lifesaving in 1948 was awarded to Coxswain Upton.
- 1952, to Coxswain Frederick Upton and Bronze Medal to Mechanic Cecil Cavell for rescuing 38 men from the wreck of the steamer Agen that was aground on the South Goodwin bank, close to three other wrecks from which the Walmer lifeboat had rescued 115 people over the previous six years.
- Gold Medal 3
- In 1997 a special award went to Pat Hardman, for his 27 1/2 years of volunteer work for the RNLI in Deal, in which time he saved 119 lives from shipwreck