Shipwrecks on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight
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Atherfield Lifeboat Station, Isle of Wight    Established 1890    Closed 1915

The Institution's Journal for February 1891 quotes as follows...

"Atherfield, Isle of Wight - It having been considered that a lifeboat placed at Atherfield, on the south west shore of the Isle of Wight, would be the means of affording material assistance to vessels which are not un-frequently driven on to the ledges of rocks off that dangerous part of the coast, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution decided last year to form a lifeboat station there. Accordingly a corrugated iron boathouse has been erected on the top of the cliff - here about 76 feet high -to the face of which a series of flat skids or sleepers have been securely fastened; over these the lifeboat is lowered by ropes, the incline being 1 in 3 and the distance to the beach about 240 feet. When returning to the boathouse the lifeboat is hauled up by means of a powerful winch. The new boat, which was placed on its station in October last, is 31 feet long, 7¼ feet wide, and rows 10 oars, double-banked. It possesses all the latest improvements, with all the other characteristics of the boats of the Institution in the way of self-righting, self-ejecting water etc. The cost of the new boat and equipment has been defrayed from a legacy bequeathed to the Institution for the purpose by the late Mrs Swift of Kensington and Chale, the boat being named after her, the Catherine Swift.

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company kindly gave the lifeboat a free conveyance over their line from London to Portsmouth, whence it was sailed to its station on 29 October by the crew, who came over specially to fetch it. When off St Catherine's, they found a very heavy hollow sea in the 'race' there; and the Coxswain and crew afterwards reported that the boat behaved admirably and gave them every satisfaction. The slipway was found to work perfectly, while not the least difficulty was experienced in hauling the boat up the steep incline and placing it in the house. A launch can be effected in about a quarter of an hour; and altogether this new lifeboat station is likely to prove a very efficient one. There are seven brothers in the crew, including William Cotton, the Coxswain Superintendent, and David Cotton, the Second Coxswain. The two last-named men had the Silver Medal of the Institution voted to them for their conspicuous gallantry in going out three times in the Brighstone Grange lifeboat on 9 and 10 March 1888 and assisting to save the lives of 30 persons from the ship Sirenia of Glasgow, which had stranded on Atherfield Ledge during foggy and tempestuous weather."

Voted Silver Medals to James Thomas and Henry Stubbs in connection with the rescue of 19 persons from the ship Bainsbridge.

Voted Silver Medal to J Wheeler in connection with the rescue of three men from the French lugger Jean Marie at Chale Bay.

Voted Silver Medal to Lieut J Bulley RN in connection with the rescue of six men from the Norwegian brig Enigheden.

Voted Second Silver Medal to Lieut J Bulley RN in connection with the rescue of three men from the ship Castor.

Voted Gold Medals to Lieut Wm Vicary RN and Lieut J Bulley RN in connection with the rescue of 11 men from the brig George. Silver Medals were awarded to: Edward Pitt, Wm Kendall, Daniel Drayson, Robert Wheeler, John Wheeler (second), Charles Wheeler, Wm Warne (Snr), Wm Warne (Jnr), John Heal and John Trent.

Voted gold boat to Lieut J Bulley RN in connection with the rescue of 15 men from the ship Llanrumney.

Voted Silver Medal to Lieut Thomas Young RN in connection with the rescue of nine men from the brig Red Port.

Voted Silver Medal to James Thomas in connection with the rescue of six men from the schooner Lelia. The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on vellum were accorded to F Rendle, F Wheeler and H Wheeler in recognition of their services.

Voted Silver Second-Service clasp to William Cotton in connection with the rescue of 112 persons from the ss Eider of Bremen. The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to the Honorary Secretary, Mr Charles Dabell, in recognition of the valuable services he rendered in connection with the service. The Directors of the South Holland Lifeboat Institution conveyed their congratulations on the success of the rescue. The Journal quotes as follows:-
(identical to Brighstone Grange entry above).

Station closed owing to launching difficulties.

Life-boathouse removed and re-erected at the Institution's storeyard at Poplar.

Life-boathouse sold for £110.

Coxswains: -    
William [Rufus] Cotton 1890 - 1903
Walter White 1903 - 1915
    [ ] not part of journal entry.    
Lives Rescued
Catherine Swift
Legacy of Mrs Catherine Swift of Kensington [& Chale] [8 oars, 31ft]
1890 - 1892

Catherine Swift - as above

1892 - 1906
Gift of Mrs G W Moss of Aigburth, Liverpool
1906 - 1915

Wrecks, dates and links to stories can be found on the 'Wrecks Map' page.

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