Watson-class lifeboat

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Postcard of the Dedication of Lord Southborough in 1925.jpg
45ft 6in Watson RNLB Lord Southborough (Civil Service No. 1) (ON 688)
Class overview
Builders: Various
Operators: Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Built: 1888–1963
In service: 1888–1991
Completed: 213

The term Watson-class lifeboat refers to several wooden lifeboat classes operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) around the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland between 1888 and 1991. The boats had hulls that conformed to the basic design laid down by RNLI naval architect George Lennox Watson.

A rescue lifeboat is a boat rescue craft which is used to attend a vessel in distress, or its survivors, to rescue crew and passengers. It can be hand pulled, sail powered or powered by an engine. Lifeboats may be rigid, inflatable or rigid-inflatable combination hulled vessels.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution Maritime rescue organisation in the UK, Ireland, Channel Island and Isle of Man

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is the largest charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as on some inland waterways. There are numerous other lifeboat services operating in the same area.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Contents

History

During the late Victorian period, the vast majority of lifeboats in service with the RNLI were of the self-righting type. The disadvantage of the self-righters was their lack of stability and to meet the requirements of stations which preferred the stability of a non self-righting type G.L. Watson conceived the hull type that bore his name. The first Watson, RNLB Edith and Annie (ON 208), was built in 1888 and was 42 ft 3in long. Over the next 27 years, 42 Watson-class pulling and sailing types were built at a variety of lengths, the commonest being the 38 footer.

In 1904 the RNLI began experimenting with motor lifeboats when a 38 ft Self-righter was converted. In 1906 three other lifeboats were converted to motor but none of these was a Watson. However, when in 1908 the first new build motor lifeboats were constructed, two of them were Watson types. Over the next 55 years, 171 boats of the various Watson-classes were built. There was, of course, no connection between a 1908 40 ft Watson and a 1963 47 ft Watson other than a similarity in basic hull form.

There were 11 lengths of boat in 8 separate classes:

LengthBuild rangeNo. built
38 ft
40 ft
40 ft 6in
43 ft
1908–193015
45 ft1912–192522
45 ft 6in1926–193523
41 ft1933–195213
46 ft1936–194628
46 ft 9in1947–195628
42 ft1954–196210
47 ft1955–196318

Fleet

38-43ft Watson-class

The first Watson motor lifeboats were based on the most common pulling and sailing hulls, the 38 ft, 40 ft and 43 ft types. Apart from the addition of an engine and propeller, there was little to distinguish them from their sail and oar powered predecessors. The engines in the early motor types were regarded almost as an auxiliary and the boats, which had an open deck with end boxes, retained sails and oars. Engines from Tylor, Blake and Wolseley were used, although the Tylor was the most satisfactory and the two Blake engined boats were re-engined with Tylors in 1914. Power output of the Tylors was 40 bhp which gave a speed of around seven knots.

ON [lower-alpha 1] NameBuiltBuilderLengthBeamIn serviceStationsComments
560Maria1908Thames Iron Works, Blackwall40 ft11 ft1910–1921
1922–1929
1930–1931
1931
Broughty Ferry
Portpatrick
Pwllheli
Shoreham Harbour
Sold in 1932
565John Ryburn1908Thames Iron Works, Blackwall43 ft12 ft 6in1909–1915
1915–1920
1921–1935
Stronsay
Peterhead No.2
Broughty Ferry
Sold February 1935
Charles Deere James1909 [1] Thames Iron Works, Blackwall38 ft9 ft 4in1909–1920 St Agnes Unknown
595William and Laura1910Thames Iron Works, Blackwall43 ft12 ft 6in1910–1932
1932–1935
Donaghadee
Arranmore
Sold in 1935
602Elliot Galer1910Thames Iron Works, Blackwall38 ft10 ft1911–1936 Seaham Harbour Sold in 1936
603 Helen Smitton 1910Thames Iron Works, Blackwall38 ft10 ft1911–1936 St Abbs Sold in 1936
620William MacPherson1912Thames Iron Works, Blackwall43 ft12 ft 6in1912–1929
1930
1931–1940
Campbeltown
Aldeburgh No.2
Pwllheli
Sold September 1940
621Frederick Kitchen1913Thames Iron Works, Blackwall43 ft12 ft 6in1914–1945
1945–1948
Beaumaris
Reserve fleet
Sold in 1948
622Alexander Tulloch1912Thames Iron Works, Blackwall43 ft12 ft 6in1912–1914 Peterhead No.2Wrecked on service 26/12/1914, three crew lost
651Samuel Oakes1918Summers & Payne, Southampton/
S.E. Saunders, Cowes
40 ft11 ft1919–1923
1924–1929
1929–1933
Humber
Weymouth
Shoreham Harbour
Sold January 1933
677Prince David1922 J. Samuel White, Cowes40 ft11 ft1922–1937 Barry Dock Sold December 1937
691K.B.M.1922J. Samuel White, Cowes40 ft11 ft1922–1949
1949–1952
Buckie
Reserve fleet
Sold September 1952
  1. ON is the RNLI's Official Number of the boat.

45ft Watson-class

The first standard class of Watson motor, began with the conversion of a pulling and sailing boat in 1912. Production began in 1919 and 22 boats were built between then and 1925.

45ft 6in Watson-class

The 45 ft 6in Watson marked the transition from single engine to twin engine layout. The first two boats were single engined, but the rest were twins. Produced between 1926 and 1935, 23 were built.

40ft 6in Watson-class

This small series of single engine boats built in 1929-30 was the precursor of the twin engine 41 ft type of 1933, which had a hull of the same 11 ft 8in beam but six inches longer. The boats resembled scaled down versions of the contemporary 45 ft 6in type, with a small shelter ahead of the aft cockpit with the exhaust funnel in front of it. All were built by J. Samuel White at Cowes and were powered by a 50 bhp Weyburn CE4 4-cylinder petrol engine driving a single screw. They served until the mid 1950s when they were replaced at their respective stations by new 42ft Watson class boats.

J. Samuel White was a British shipbuilding firm based in East Cowes, taking its name from John Samuel White (1838–1915).

42ft <i>Watson</i>-class lifeboat

The 42ft Watson-class was a class of non self-righting displacement hull lifeboat built between 1954 and 1962 and operated by the RNLI around the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland between 1954 and 1987.

ON [lower-alpha 1] NameBuiltIn ServiceStationsComments
721Lady Kylsant19291929–1930
1930–1937
1937–1956
Weymouth
Howth
Wicklow
Sold in 1956
722J. and W.19291929–1937
1937–1940
1940–1957
Portpatrick
Reserve fleet
Berwick
Sold May 1957
723Sir David Richmond of Glasgow19291929–1955 Troon Sold June 1956
724G.W.19301930–1956 Moelfre Sold May 1956
  1. ON is the RNLI's Official Number of the boat.

41ft Watson-class

The first twin engined medium-sized Watson class intended for stations unable to accommodate the larger types. Thirteen were built, nine between 1933 and 1939 and a further four between 1948 and 1952.

46ft Watson-class

The next development of the large Watson saw the introduction of diesel engines. Four of the first five were petrol engined, the fourth was the first new build diesel engined lifeboat for the RNLI and the remainder followed suit. Twenty eight boats were built, not including two destroyed whilst under construction in an air raid on Groves & Guttridge's yard at Cowes. Production ran from 1936 to 1946.

46ft 9in Watson-class

The first post-war Watson type, the first five resembled the 46 ft type, but from 1948 a major redesign resulted in a new superstructure with midships steering and a large cabin aft. Twenty eight were built between 1947 and 1956.

42ft Watson-class

Like the 41 ft type intended for stations unable to accommodate larger types but needing something bigger than a carriage launched type, the 42 ft Watson introduced the use of commercial diesel engines rather than the RNLI's own designs. Ten were built between 1954 and 1962

47ft Watson-class

The final incarnation of the Watson inspired hull, the 47 ft Watson was the last non self-righting class built for the RNLI other than the 70 ft Clyde-class cruising boats. They were the first type to have an enclosed wheelhouse (other than the unique "fast" lifeboat of 1929). The first was built in 1955, but full production began in 1957 and continued to 1963 with eighteen built.

Clyde-class lifeboat

The Clyde-class lifeboat was operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) from two of its stations in the United Kingdom, Kirkwall and Clovelly. Only three vessels were built for the RNLI, however a fourth vessel was built in the Netherlands to the same lines as 70-001 and 70-003 as a pilot boat for Trinity House.

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The 47 ft Watson-class was a class of non self-righting displacement hull lifeboat built from 1955 to 1963 and operated by the RNLI between 1956 and 1991.

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46ft 9in <i>Watson</i>-class lifeboat

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The Surf-class was a light non self-righting displacement hull motor lifeboat built between 1935 and 1940 and operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution between 1936 and 1965.

46ft <i>Watson</i>-class lifeboat

The 46 ft Watson-class was a non self-righting displacement hull lifeboat built between 1935 and 1946 and operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution between 1935 and 1981.

41ft <i>Watson</i>-class lifeboat

The 41 ft Watson-class was a non self-righting displacement hull lifeboat built between 1931 and 1952 and operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution between 1931 and 1981.

The 45ft 6in Watson-class was a non self-righting displacement hull lifeboat built between 1926 and 1933 and operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution between 1926 and 1972

The 35ft 6in Self-righting motor-class was a displacement hull lifeboat built in single engine form between 1929 and 1940 and in twin engined form between 1947 and 1950. The boats were operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution between 1929 and 1965.

The 45 ft Watson-class was a non self-righting displacement hull lifeboat built between 1919 and 1925 and operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution between 1919 and 1956.

References

  1. "New Lifeboat for Scilly" . Cornishman. Truro. 29 July 1909. Retrieved 28 September 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.