The RNLI is the charity that provides a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Republic of Ireland. There are two lifeboat stations on the coast of Romney Marsh, at Dungeness and Greatstone. You can track both lifeboats, if they at sea, on our Ships in the English Channel page.
The first lifeboat station on Romney Marsh was at Martello Tower No 27 at St Mary's Bay in 1826. The lifeboat was built by William Plenty and owned by the RNLI. The station was known as Dymchurch No.27 Tower and the crew were all members of the Coast Blockade. On 27th August 1832, the lifeboat was launched in a full gale to aid the vessel Osiris. Floundering between Littlestone and Tower 27. The lifeboat crew managed to rescue all the men aboard the ship. For this remarkable feat the coxswain F.S. Henshaw received the RNLI Silver Medal. The station closed in 1837.
For the next 16 years there was no official lifeboat station with rescues being undertaken by coastguards and/or local fishermen. Following two shipwrecks in 1852, in which 6 people died in the first, including 4 coastguards, and 40 people in the second, the first Lifeboat Station at Dungeness was established in 1854. The station was located by the Dungeness No.1 Battery. This was not a good location as launches were delayed by the distances crew and helpers had to travel to launch the lifeboat. Because of this, the station was moved in 1861 northwards towards Littlestone, where it was initially still known as Dungeness Lifeboat Station.
When a new lifeboat, Doctor Hatton, arrived at the station in 1871 the station was renamed New Romney Lifeboat Station. The Doctor Hatton was replaced by the lfeboat Sandal Magna in 1884. The New Romney Lifeboat Station was closed in 1928 following a 16 year period when there were only three recored servic launches.
The Northfeet disaster in 1873 in which 293 lives were lost led to the re-opening of the Dungeness Lifeboat Station in 1874.
Dungeness Lifeboat Station, located off Dungeness Road, guards the Channel from Folkestone to Rye Bay. The first lifeboat station at Dungeness was built in 1854.
The present lifeboat, arriving in 2014, is the Shannon class lifeboat, "The Morrell" paid for by an extraordinarily generous legacy gift from Mrs Barbara Morrell. She left the RNLI a legacy worth over £6 million, requesting that it be left to fund a lifeboat for Kent, as she came from Bromley in Kent.
The Souvenir Shop at the Lifeboat Station is open from 12 noon to 5pm Saturdays & Sundays only from Saturday 2nd of March till Sunday 8th of December, subject to volunteer availability.
The Lifeboat Station in Greatstone is located off Coast Drive, with the present purpose built brick boathouse being built in 1977. The station is served by an Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Fred Clarke. The Atlantic 75 is a rigid inflatable lifeboat with a crew of three. It has a manually operated self-righting mechanism and is capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to engines or steering gear. The Atlantic 75 is fitted with radar and VHF direction finding equipment and can be operated safely in daylight in a force 6/7 and at night in a force 5/6.
The RNLI Souvenir Shop is open every Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm throughout the year, and also Wednesday 10am to 4pm throughout the season, subject to volunteers available.
Launching Greatstone Lifeboat [ack 23.]