A short history of the Filey Lifeboats

In 2004 the Filey Lifeboat Station is proud to announce it’s 200th anniversary year. The Station pre dates the formation of the RNLI and was founded in 1804. No records exist of these early years but it is known that in 1823, the year before the RNLI was formed, the Filey residents collected sufficient funds for their own lifeboat to be built by Skelton of Scarborough. The new boat cost £98.00, had a length of 30 feet and a beam of 8 feet 8 inches. The boat was rowed by 12 oarsmen and was not a self righting boat if it capsized. This lifeboat served at Filey for 40 years and in the Northumberland Lifeboat Report of 1851 it was stated that it had “saved many lives”. In 1852 the Local committee of Filey asked the RNLI to take over the running of the Lifeboat Station and from then Service records were kept. Repairs to the boathouse were then undertaken and it remained in service until 1889. The first recorded service under the RNLI took place on 27th December 1853 during a severe NNE gale to a schooner believed to be the “Margaret” where, sadly the 3 or 4 crew that had taken to the small boat were lost. After many services to the sailing fishing and commercial craft of the day, a new Lifeboat, the Hollon was commissioned.


On 20th July 1862 a request was received from the committee of the Filey Lifeboat /station for the replacement of the 40 year old boat, following this, the Lord mayor and Lady Mayoress of York, Mr and Mrs R W Hollon of Spellow Park donated £250:00 for the boat Mr Hollon and his wife had survived a storm at sea and his wife had suggested that the donation of a lifeboat was the appropriate way to mark their preservation. She was built at a cost of £267.2s.0d, a 33 feet by 8 feet self righting boat with 10 oar position and built by Forrest of Limehouse in London and was conveyed by rail to Filey. The public inauguration took place at Filey on the 26th November 1863 and the procession consisted of the 2nd East York Artillery volunteers, members of the Ancient Order of Shepherds and the Odd Fellows.

The new boat was launched only five days later and during its life at Filey gave valiant service to the maritime community off our coast. In one notable Service, the Lifeboat was unable to save the three crew of the coble Unit. The Lifeboat crew received a reward of £16:00 for this Service, which they gave to the families of the men that had died. On 6th March 1883 the Hollon was launched to the local fishing Yawl William Clowes at a high tide. During the launching operation the lifeboat grounded in heavy surf and swung broadside on and a number of men went into the heavy seas to get the boat’s head to sea. The Lifeboat launched and subsequently rescued the crew of 6 from the William Clowes.

Hollon the Second

On 3rd April 1884, it was decided to place a new Lifeboat at Filey, when he heard of this, Mr Hollon sent a cheque of £650:00 to the RNLI to defray the cost of this new boat and equipment and on 13th September 1884, the new boat arrived at the Filey Railway Station. The Vicar of Filey, the Rev. A N Cooper conducted a Service of Dedication and named her Hollon the Second, she was a 34 feet by 8 feet 10 oared self righter and cost £130.08.0d with the extra cost of a launching carriage and had to wait 14 months before going out on service. During 1889 a new boathouse was built at Filey and was still in use until the arrival of the latest Lifeboat here.

In 1890 the Station Honorary Secretary Mr William Tout died as a result of a chill caught while engaged on Lifeboat work. Hollon the Second completed many services to vessels in distress in her life and by now as technology changed, the Lifeboat was answering calles to steam driven vessels. The records state bland remarks such as “signals were sighted from a vessel north of Filey Brigg. The Lifeboat was got out….”. and these comments do not always illustrate the fierce weather that the crews had to experience in their little open boat and her last Service took place on 4th April 1907 when she stood by several local cobles in very heavy seas.

Hollon the Third

Hollon the Third arrived In 1907, the cost of this Lifeboat was bequeathed by the late Mr R W Hollon of York. This boat was a 35 feet by 8 foot 3 inches with 10 oars and fitted with two water ballast tanks and a drop keel. The new boat was named by Miss Wheelhouse, the daughter of the Local Branch Committee and her first Service took place on 22nd February 1908. Services to local fishing boats and the passing maritime community continued but on 15th July 1912, 33 passengers were rescued from the pleasure steamer Cambria that had run on to Filey Brigg.

The advent of the First world War brought a number of extra calls from vessels mined and torpedoed off our coast. In one notable incident, a local coble was seen to capsize in violent seas and the Second Coxswain, William Robinson and a Mr George Boynton immediately headed for the capsized boat in their own coble, a daring deed that was rewarded by a bronze medal awarded to each of them by the RNLI. In 1928 the RNLI presented the Filey Lifeboat Station with a Centenary Vellum and 11th August people lined the streets and the Hollon the Third was drawn in procession around the town. Lifeboat Day at Filey in 1930 was a memorable occasion as the sons of H R H Princess Mary, Countess of Harwood were on board the boat. Three weeks later tragedy struck as John W Willis was run over and killed by one of the carriage wheels during the Lifeboat launch to the steam drifter Girl Ena. The Lifeboat continued with the Service and stood by the vessel until it refloated on the rising tide.

In another well known incident, he steam trawler James Lay went ashore on the Filey Brigg and eventually the Lifeboat rescued 28 men (crew and helpers) from the trawler when a strong Northerly gale developed. Two months later it was decided to replace Hollon the Third and until such time a motor lifeboat could be built, the Thomas Masterman Hardy was then placed at Filey.

The Cuttle

The keel of the new Filey Lifeboat was laid in 1938 and she arrived on Station in May 1940. She was one of the last single engined Liverpool class of non self righting Lifeboats to be built. A 35 hp petrol engine giving her a speed of 7.5 knots powered her and she cost £4,444.00 to build being provided from a legacy from Miss F L Cuttle of Rotherham. As well as Services to cobles, the lifeboat had to deal with the incidents of war which included the launches to downed aircraft. During the Second World War, the Filey Lifeboat was launched on 32 occasions, over half of them to local fishing vessels. 14 lives were saved, 12 of them in one Service. After a distinguished career, the Cuttle was transferred to the Skegness Lifeboat Station when the new Lifeboat arrived at Filey.

The Isa Penryn Milstead

The Isa Penryn Milstead arrived at Filey in October 1953, she was a 35 feet 6 inch Liverpool class boat and was fitted with twin FKR 3 diesel engines which gave her a top speed of 7.5 knots. She had been built at a cost of £14,881.00 out of the legacy of Mr A P Milstead of London. The naming ceremony of the new boat took place on 21st July 1954 Her first Service was on 14th December 1953 and during her career which involved Services to a range of vessels, she launched on the 8th December 1954 when a terrible storm raged along the East Coast to escort cobles to safety. At that time the Scarborough lifeboat also launched and tragically overturned only 400 Yards from safety. Three crewmembers lost heir lives, amongst them was the Second Coxswain of the Scarborough boat who had a total of 37 years service in both the Filey and Scarborough boats.

In 1966 Filey Lifeboat Station was allocated and inflatable rescue boat, these fast response boats have a length of about 15 feet and are powered by a high powered outboard engine, the purpose of these boats is to deal with bathers, small boats and persons on inflatable toys in daytime in the summer months. The IRB as it was known attended its first Service on 8th May 1966 and having since been upgraded to day and night rescue vessel with enhanced capabilities and remains the workhorse of the Station, dealing with the increase in leisure boating incidents. In common with the Lifeboat, the ILB as it is now termed works with the RAF Sea King Rescue Helicopters from RAF Leconfield.

The Robert and Dorothy Hardcastle

When the RNLI closed its Lifeboat Station at Bulmer , in Northumberland, the lifeboat was taken for refit and re-allocated to Filey. The Robert and Dorothy Hardcastle was a 37 foot Oakley class self righting Lifeboat, built in 1962 at a cost of £33,000.00 out of the legacy of Mr H R Hardcastle. She was fitted with twin Perkins diesel engines giving her a top speed of 8 knots. She sailed to Filey under the command of Coxswain Thomas Jenkinson and with Motor Mechanic Bob Appleby aboard. Also referred to a “3704” (her service number) she carried on the tradition of services to the fishing and commercial vessels in our area, but with an increased workload with the ILB in a supporting role for the more difficult Services involving work inshore in bad weather and protracted searches.

On 23 rd June 1974, Station Motor Mechanic Bob Appleby tragically died on Service, this was a great loss to Filey and in 1975 a new watch room was built in his memorial. Tragedy struck again in 1976 when the Station Honorary Secretary Philip Hodgson died. In 1977, Filey Lifeboat Station celebrated its 150th anniversary year and during that year answered 22 calls and saved 21 lives.

The Keep Fit Association

On May 21st 1991, Filey’s new Lifeboat arrived on Station, a 12 metre Mersey class self righting Lifeboat built by Green Marine, fitted out by FBM Ltd and powered by two caterpillar 3208T diesel engines which gives her a top speed of 17 Knots. The boat was officially placed “on station” on 2nd June 1991 and to coincide with the arrival of this new boat, the Lifeboat house was renewed to accommodate her. She cost £455,00.00 and the money from this was raised by the Keep Fit Association and a local Lifeboat Appeal. Her first Service came just three days later to a local fishing vessel with engine failure and quickly established herself as a solid capable vessel. She was Coxswained by Graham Taylor and on his retirement, the current Coxswain Malcolm Johnson took over from him.

In April of this year when Malcolm retires, the Station Motor Mechanic, Barry Robson who becomes her third Coxswain, will take up the mantle. The Lifeboat’s more notable Services were to the yacht Araxian in 2002 when the vessel was taken in tow to Scarborough after getting into difficulties. In this operation crewman Neil Cammish was swept overboard and subsequently recovered in a difficult operation. In another incident, the Filey Lifeboat in conjunction with the Flamborough Lifeboat rescued the crew of the yacht Kilpeacon in a daring an innovative Service in which the Filey Lifeboat used its own life raft to get to put crewmen aboard on a falling tide amongst rocks. The Kilpeacon was subsequently refloated and taken to Bridlington.  Both these Services are detailed in the Lifeboat Page.  Neil Cammish distinguished himself again when; in the ILB he searched close inshore in shallow water with an onshore sea for a person reported missing.

The Lifeboat station today remains as committed as ever to the service of the local community and to those who pass our shores, an all weather 24 hour service with a range off shore of up to 50 miles. They are there when others are not and the Filey lifeboat Station is proud of its heritage and looks forward to another 200 years of Service.

  The Filey Lifeboats

Lifeboat Dates  Services Launches  Lives Saved
A Lifeboat 1804 - 1824 No record No record 
A Lifeboat 1824 - 1863 11 Between 1852/1863 47 Between 1852/1863
Hollon 1863 - 1884 21 28
Hollon the Second 1884 - 1907 37 0
Hollon the Third 1907 - 1937 110 121
The Cuttle 1940 - 1953 77 28
Isa and Penryn Milstead 1953 - 1968 87 12
Robert and Dorothy Hardcastle 1968 - 1991 180 22
Temporary Lifeboats 1892 to date 28 13
Keep Fit Association 1991 137 Up to March 2003 19 Up to March 2003

Tony Green

Lifeboat Operations Manager
Filey Lifeboat Station

The Station's Web address is  Website www.fileylifeboat.com and this site contains the latest details about the Filey Lifeboat.

We recognise the work on the history of the Filey Lifeboat Station that have been completed by Jeff Morris and from which we have taken part of our research.

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