A very fine model of the first Flamborough lifeboat, St Michael’s Paddington, 1871A very fine model of the first Flamborough lifeboat, St Michael’s Paddington, 1871

A very fine model of the first Flamborough lifeboat, St Michael’s Paddington, 1871

£ 7,250.00






Cased height: 11 ¼ inches (29cm) Width: 33 inches (84cm) Depth: 12 inches (30cm)

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This highly accurate model has an oval silver plaque incised ‘Model of the S. Michael’s Paddington Lifeboat, Stationed at Flamborough, under the management of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, this model was presented by the Institution to the Revd. G. F. Prescott, MA, 1871’. For a fuller description of this model please see page 18.

The first lifeboat to arrive at Flamborough’s number two station at South Landing was the “St. Michael’s Paddington”. She was 33 feet long, had an 8 foot 6 inch beam and cost the princely sum of £278, which was met by the parishioners of St. Michael’s Church, Paddington. Their efforts, guided by the vicar, the reverend G. F. Prescott M.A., raised £640 as their aim was not only to provide a lifeboat but also a lifeboat station on Flamborough Head. The lifeboat’s crew of thirteen was made up of a Coxswain, Second Coxswain, bowman and ten oarsmen. Carriages for the boat could not be employed because the beach was uneven and rocky so an additional ten to twenty men formed the launching party. It was their job to manhandle the boat from the boathouse, down the slipway, across the beach and into the water. The reverse was carried out when recovering the lifeboat. She stayed on station for thirty years and saved 8 lives. This class of lifeboat came from a design by Mr. James Peake. We are indebted to Simon Robson ©1998-2007 Helmsman – Flamborough Lifeboat Station for his fascinating research.

Literature and Exhibitions: Known examples of self-righting pulling and sailing lifeboats can be found in the National Maritime Museum with the following footnote: ‘These models were produced for publicity purposes or given as a token of thanks to individuals who donated money for the purchase of a lifeboat. From 1860 to 1915, this class of lifeboat ranged from twenty-eight feet to forty feet in length and formed the backbone of the RNLI fleet. They were manned by volunteers and stationed all over the UK as well as being adopted by lifesaving institutions abroad. They were moored afloat or could be launched from a boathouse down a slipway, or off of a horse drawn trailer directly into the surf.’ The RNLI owns Clovelly’s Alexander and Matilda and Rhyl’s Morgan, among others. 

Peake self-righting lifeboats: This class of lifeboat was totally open to the elements. They were constructed from two half inch thicknesses of mahogany. These were laid diagonally and opposing with copper rivets fastening them together, which meant the boats were natural self-righters. The original, built at Woolwich Dockyard under sponsorship from the Government, was 30’ long and had an extreme breadth of 7’6”. There were cork-wrapped air cases under the seats and in the bow and stern and a 7cwt keel. In addition, six tubes passed through the hull which could clear a boat full of excess water in 30 seconds. The boat showed tremendous stability and buoyancy when coming ashore through dumping surf without shipping any water. 

The need for better lifeboats was highlighted in the following extract from ‘The Engineer’ magazine “During the year 1854 our coasts were the scene of no fewer than 987 wrecks of ships …. there are believed to have been the fearful number of 1,549 human lives lost by these catastrophes – and all, be it remembered, on our own coasts – on the coasts of the busiest maritime island in the world: when, if there be liability of disaster through the vast congregation of shipping, there ought on the other hand to be a supply of invention and good sense sufficient to check, in same degree, such disasters.” The Engineer went on to state that, despite these calamities, 132 people were saved by the RNLI in 1854. Twenty to thirty of Peake’s boats were built and the RNLI ‘adopted them to the exclusion of others built from different designs.’

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