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The Early Birnbeck Lifeboats

The first lifeboat stationed on Birnbeck Island was the 'William James Holt', given as a gift by Colonel Holt of Bangor and Mrs. Symes in 1882. This boat was used until 1889, and during this time was only launched 'in effective service conditions' on two occasions, saving some 40 lives in the process, although she was launched many other times to bring other individuals ashore whose lives might well have been at some degree of risk. She was normally launched from davits attached to the south side of the pier.

The 'William James Holt' - 1886

RNLI Photo #1

© RNLI

The first covered lifeboat station was then built in 1888, and this was equipped, in 1889, with a new and similarly-named boat, the 'William James Holt II'. This vessel was paid for by a legacy provided by the same Colonel Holt, and in her time (until 1903) launched in emergency situations on four occasions, saving a further 3 lives.

The 'William James Holt II' - c. 1890

RNLI Photo #2

© RNLI

The 'William James Holt II' being launched - prior to 10 September 1903 (when the North Jetty was severely damaged by 'the Great Gale')

RNLI Photo #3

© Somerset Record Office

A new lifeboat station was constructed in 1902, this time being positioned on the south side of the main pier. The cost of this was £2575, and this sum included provision for what then became the longest lifeboat slipway in the entire country.

The third boat to be positioned at Birnbeck was the 'Colonel Stock', purchased as the result of a legacy arising from the estate of Mrs. A. S. Stock in 1903, and named after her late husband. In the thirty years that this lifeboat was there, she conducted six service launches, and saved another 12 lives.

The 'Colonel Stock' on the slipway of the new (1902) lifeboat station - noting that this image is dated from between 1923 and 1933 as the low water jetty is not visible beyond the lifeboat house

RNLI Photo #4

© Weston-super-Mare Library

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