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1881 Lifeboat House

The Ribble Estuary, which borders St Annes, was notorious for treacherous sandbanks difficult to navigate in bleak weather. Lifeboat stations both north and south of the estuary had already been established by the mid-19th century, but as the new town of St Annes was starting to develop, the advantages of having a station at the mouth of the estuary was apparent.

Towards the end of the 19th century the RNLI (then the National Lifeboat Institute) conducted a thorough survey of the land, and work began on the Eastbank Road site of a new lifeboat station and slipway. Progress was also being made in the construction of a lifeboat for St Annes-on-Sea and in the recruitment of local volunteers to man the lifeboat. The inauguration of the Lifeboat House took place on the same day as the naming of the new lifeboat, Laura Janet, on 24 September 1881.

Tragedy struck in 1886 when German barque Mexico signalled for assistance in the estuary - Southport, Lytham and St Annes all responded to the distress call. All 13 members of the Laura Janet crew drowned on that fateful night, and the lifeboat was later found overturned close to Southport. A memorial to those who lost their lives can be found in the Promenade Gardens.

A new lifeboat, Nora Royds, was presented to the station in 1887 with a quiet naming ceremony, and a new team of boatmen assigned to the station. However, the crew was largely dissatisfied with the Nora Royds and requested a new lifeboat to be stationed off the end of the pier. By 1892 St Annes had three boats in its possession: Nora Royds, Brothers & Charles Proctor.

The early 20th century saw many changes in the estuary, and water levels at any state of the tide were no longer suitable to launch a large lifeboat. The No.2 lifeboat house was closed in 1910, and by 1925 the decision was made to close the primary lifeboat house and amalgamate with Lytham. St Annes has a proud maritime legacy, saving a total of forty-two lives during forty-four years of service.

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