Fond farewell to historic Selsey lifeboat station after 57 years of saving lives

The old lifeboat station in Selsey has been around for 57 years but time has now come for it to say its farewell. At 11 am, Voluntary Worker, a lifeboat in Selsey will be launched from the station one last time before it’s finally demolished. In 1958, the slipway and boathouse were put up at a cost in excess of £75,000. The boathouse was made with reinforced concrete and has a steel slipway on concrete piles while the gangway, which measures 110 metres, was built using steel and timber decking. The boathouse was officially opened by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon in July of 1960, the year when the boathouse finally became operational.

Three different classes of lifeboats have worked from the boathouse in its nearly 6 decades of existence. The first was the RNLB Canadian Pacific 46ft Watson class 1938-1969 followed by the RNLB Charles Henry 48ft 6in Oakley class 1969-1983. The Tyne class of lifeboats has had two occupants in the boathouse i.e. the RNLB City of London 47ft Tyne class 1983-2006 and the most recent occupant, The RNLB Voluntary Worker 47ft Tyne class 2006-2017. There have also been other lifeboats that have been launched from the station during that period for relief purposes.

There have 972 launches from the Selsey boathouse since it first started operating in 1960 and in that period it has helped more than 850 people. Launches have been delayed in recent times due to the presence of divers exploring the sea life around and under the station. In the August of 2013, a 500-pound bomb was found 100 metres from the station. As a measure of caution, the lifeboat was launched to allow the bomb to be dealt with by a team from the Royal Navy explosive ordnance disposal team.

The station has also made appearances on TV and movies in the years past. It has been used to film ads for Timex watches back in the 1960s and in the 1980s and 90s, it was used to film ads for Fisherman’s friends and Lacoste clothes. When singing for her Saturday night show in ’76, Shirley Bassey launched on the Charles Henry. The splash as the Tyne launched was filmed by Guy Ritching to be used in the 2008 Sherlock Holmes movie. A new building has replaced the boathouse.

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