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

A big crowd is expected in Selsey on Saturday to watch the very final launch from the old lifeboat station.

The historic boathouse and slipway has stood proudly for 57 years
The historic boathouse and slipway has stood proudly for 57 years

At 11am the Selsey lifeboat Voluntary Worker will launch for the last time from the current boathouse before it is demolished.

The boathouse and slipway was built in 1958 at a cost of more than £75,000.

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The 110-metre gangway was built using steel and timber decking and the boathouse was reinforced concrete with a steel slipway on concrete piles.

A big crowd is expected for the final launch this Saturday at 11am

The boathouse became operational in April 1960 and was officially opened by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon in July that year.

During the 57 years three different classes of lifeboats have operated from the boathouse, RNLB Canadian Pacific 46ft Watson class 1938-1969, RNLB Charles Henry 48ft 6in Oakley class 1969-1983, RNLB City of London 47ft Tyne class 1983-2006, and RNLB Voluntary Worker 47ft Tyne class 2006-2017.

During that time, several other lifeboats have launched from the station whilst on relief duties.

Since 1960 Selsey lifeboats have launched from the current boathouse 972 times and assisted in excess of 850 people.

The new facility has already been built

Sometimes in recent years the launch has been delayed by divers exploring the sea life underneath the boathouse.

On the August 26, 2013 an unexploded 500lb bomb was discovered 100 metres from the boathouse and the lifeboat was launched as a precaution while the bomb was dealt with by the Royal Navy explosive ordnance disposal team.

There have been several film and TV crews over the years filming adverts such as Timex watches in the ‘60s Fisherman’s friends and Lacoste clothes in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Shirley Bassey launched on the Charles Henry while singing for her Saturday night show in 1976.

Rory McGrath filmed for the discovery channel and Guy Ritchie filmed the splash as the Tyne launched to be used in Sherlock Holmes film in 2008.

The sliway has featured in famous films

The Birdman rally started at Selsey launching from the lifeboat gangway in the early ‘70s before moving to Bognor.

The current boathouse has been replaced by a new building which will house both the inshore lifeboat and the new Shannon class lifeboat which has been allocated to Selsey to replace the Tyne class.

The Shannon class is designed to be launched from the beach by a state of the art launch and recovery rig.

Both the Shannon lifeboat and launching rig are due to arrive at station later this year so after Voluntary Worker launches on the 1st it will be moored off Selsey and still be the operational lifeboat until such time as the Shannon becomes the station lifeboat.

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