Wells Lifeboat  RNLI Lifeboats Wells Norfolk UK
Wells Lifeboat

Welcome to Wells RNLI

Wells-next-the-Sea RNLI Lifeboat Station houses an all-weather lifeboat and an inshore lifeboat to save lives and assist with emergencies around Wells and off the North Norfolk coast. Manned by volunteer crews, the boats are ready to launch within minutes, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. This website will tell you more about the station and give you a taste of what we do and the traditions of the lifeboat service.

Recent Services

18 August 2019

Four persons and two dogs called 999 after finding themselves cut off by the incoming tide on the sands to the west of the harbour entrance channel. Having attempted to wade ashore, the party waited on a rapidly diminishing sand bank. The ILB launched at 18:12. It picked up the persons 6 minutes later and returned them safely to the beach outside the boathouse.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW2 Sea Slight

Phaedra under tow into 

Phaedra under tow into Wells, 18 August 2019 MP

Rehousing the lifeboat after 
the service to Phaedra

The lifeboat being rehoused after the service to Phaedra, 18 August 2019 MP

17 August 2019

The crew were paged just before midnight to assist a yacht Phaedra with two persons on board which had suffered engine failure while on passage from Hull to Wells. The all-weather lifeboat left the boathouse for a low water launch in Holkham Bay and located the yacht, approximately 7 miles north east of Wells, around 45 minutes later. Two crew members were transferred aboard and a tow was set up, the lifeboat and yacht arriving in Holkham Bay at 03:20 where the yacht was anchored to wait for the tide. At 06.10, the tow was restablished and the yacht taken in and safely berthed in the outer harbour.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW4 Sea Slight/Moderate

4 August 2019

The all-weather lifeboat launched to complete a tow from Sheringham Lifeboat. The 37' cruiser Janolian with two persons on-board on passage from Hull to Lowestoft had developed engine problems off Sheringham and Sheringham's Atlantic class lifeboat had towed the vessel back to Wells. Launching at low water at 16:38 from Holkham beach, the lifeboat was alongside at 16:45. Sheringham lifeboat transferred a crew member from Wells to the casualty vessel and was then released to return to station. Both boats then waited off Wells for the evening tide, the tow being resumed at 19:52 and Janolian being brought up to the quay and safely berthed on the pontoons. The lifeboat was rehoused and ready again for service by 21:30.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SE3 Sea Smooth

29 July 2019

The inshore lifeboat launched to escort the cruiser Alpha Beta into harbour. The boat had become caught on fishing gear earlier in the day while on passage to Wells, and Cromer lifeboat had been launched to assist. On arrival, the cruiser had freed itself and was able to continue under its own power with some concern that its steering may have been damaged. Cromer lifeboat escorted the vessel to Wells where it was decided it would be prudent for the inshore lifeboat to launch to accompany it to the quayside in case of further difficulty.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SE3 Sea Slight

21 July 2019

The inshore lifeboat crew were paged to check on and assist a small open power boat Kira with two persons on board which had beached just east the Wells harbour channel earlier in the day after running out of fuel. Launching at 16:40, the ILB stood by until the tide has risen sufficiently to bring the boat safely into the harbour.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind W2 Sea Slight

18 July 2019

The inshore lifeboat was paged at 17:31 to assist two persons and a dog cut off by the incoming evening tide towards the western end of Scolt Head Island. Launching at 17:41, the ILB picked the persons up at 18:15 from the island inside Brancaster harbour and then made its way carefully, early on the rising tide, to Brancaster hard. The persons were landed at 18:35 with the local coastguard making arrangements to reunite them with their car which was parked at Burnham Overy Staithe. The ILB then returned towards Wells but remained afloat to undertake a training exercise which had already been planned for the evening.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind W2 Sea Slight

16 July 2019

The lifeboat was launched at 05:30 to bring in the 34' yacht Walrus with two persons on board. The yacht, having left Wells for Lowestoft the previous day, had picked up a rope around her prop and was unable to make headway under sail alone in light airs. Cromer lifeboat was launched to assist and towed the yacht back to Wells where it is was anchored overnight in Holkham bay to await the morning tide. Wells Lifeboat towed the yacht into Wells and moored her safely in the outer harbour.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind light airs Sea Slight

Big Old Cat under tow, 7 July 2019

Bringing the power boat Big Old Cat into harbour, 7 July 2019 RW

7 July 2019

The all-weather lifeboat was paged at 10.40 to assist a 40ft power boat Big Old Cat with one failed engine and loss of steering some 8 miles north-west of Wells. The boat, with two persons on board, was on passage from the Humber to Wells. The lifeboat launched at 10.51 and arrived alongside the casualty at 11.28 where a crew member was transferred aboard to rig up a tow. The lifeboat arrived at Wells fairway at 12:15 where the tow was shortened up to assist entering the harbour against a strong ebb. Once safely in the harbour channel, the Big Old Cat was brought alongside the lifeboat and then safely tied up at the Outer Harbour pontoons at 12:55. The lifeboat returned to station and was rehoused and made ready for service by 13:15.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind NW3 Sea Slight

6 July 2019

The inshore lifeboat was paged to assist a 5m Sea Rider RIB with 4 persons on board approaching Wells. The boat had called 999 after their engine failed amid breaking seas on the bar. Launching at 10.15, the ILB quickly established a tow and brought the craft into the harbour.

Weather Cloudy Visibility Good Wind SW3 Sea Slight

3 July 2019

The inshore lifeboat was requested to launch after reports of two swimmers potentially in a difficult situation some way off the beach to the west of the harbour entrance channel, who had been seen by the the Wells Ferry harbour trip boat. As the ILB launched, no-one could be seen in difficulty from the boathouse and a local report suggested the swimmers may have regained the beach. The ILB performed a sweep of the beach and then proceeded west along the shore line, finding and having a brief chat with the two persons who were indeed back safe and well on-shore. The boat then returned to station.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind W2 Sea Slight

Latest News

Jean Court

Wed 31 Jul 2019

Jean Court (r) with friends, current and former crew members at 150th anniversary celebrations

Jean Court (r) with friends, current and former crew members at 150th anniversary celebrations

The RNLI Wells Lifeboat Guild, station and crew were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jean Court on Thursday, 25 July.  

Jean was a founder member of the Wells-next-the-Sea Ladies Lifeboat Guild when it was formed in 1969 and gave over 50 years' dedicated service as a fundraising volunteer. During her time on the Guild, Jean was always an active member, working tirelessly to help organise events and activities and was Chairman of the group for a large number of years. For her dedicated service, Jean was honoured with the RNLI's Gold Badge in 2013 which was presented to her by Sarah, Countess of Leicester. 

Jean was loved and admired by so many in the town and regularly welcomed visitors into her home where they were always greeted with a cup of tea and biscuits. Jean was renowned for her delicious 'Norfolk Shortcake' which she regularly baked for fundraising events and which always quickly sold out! Jean's friends and colleagues remember her as a warm, kind, generous, energetic lady with a big heart who will be very sadly missed by all.

150th anniversary vellum

Wed 17 Jul 2019

150th anniversary sail past in the quay

150th anniversary sail past in the quay

Flotilla in quay... (l-r) Shannon, Liverpool, Oakley, Mersey and D-class

Flotilla in quay... (l-r) Shannon, Liverpool, Oakley, Mersey and D-class

Wells Lifeboat celebrated its 150th anniversary as an RNLI station this week. The town has had a lifeboat from around 1830 and became a Royal National Lifeboat Institution station in 1869, with a new lifeboat, the Eliza Adams being delivered by rail and placed on service in a new specially built boathouse on the quay (now used as the harbour office).

The anniversary was marked by a week of events including a week-long exhibition at the Maltings and a presentation and open day on 13th July. The RNLI's Chief Executive Mark Dowie presented the station with a 150th anniversary vellum at a presentaion at the boathouse at which award for long serving volunteers were also presented... 20 years for Deputy Second Coxswain Martin Emerson, 40 years for crew member Fred Whitaker and 50 years for tractor driver and emergency mechanic Phil Eaglen. 

Phil joined the crew age 17 in 1967 as a launcher and became, for many years, the station's head tractor driver as well as an emergency mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat crew. Now past normal retirement age, he continues to be a mainstay of the station assisting the full-time Coxswain/mechanic during the transition to the new Shannon station.

After the presentation, the station was opened to the public with historic lifeboats on view on the outer harbour pontoons. These were joined by a relief Shannon class lifeboat (the type that will soon serve at Wells) kindly brought round from Lowestoft by Lowestoft Coxswain John Fox and a volunteer crew.

Five lifeboats, spanning some 78 years, then sailed together up to the quay... the current station  Mersey class Doris M Mann of Ampthill and our inshore lifeboat Peter Wilcox, single-screw Liverpool class Lucy Lavers, built 1940 and a Dunkirk Little Ship which served on relief at Wells in 1963/64, Oakley class Enerst Tom Neathercoat Wells station boat from 1965 to 1990 and the Shannon 13-26 John Metters. A large crowd greeted the boats at the quay with a commentary kindly provided by the harbour master.

A thank you to Wells volunteers...

Fri 12 Jul 2019

The RNLI has shared this video on Facebook and Twitter thanking the men and women who have volunteered at Wells over the years...


150th anniversary team photograph

19 May 2019

150th anniversary team photograph

150th anniversary team photographChris Taylor

Volunteer crew, guild members, station personnel and former crew members gathered outside Wells boathouse for a photograph to celebrate our 150th anniversary as an RNLI lifeboat station.

The photograph, taken by local photographer and Sheringham crew member Chris Taylor, echoes previous images of the station going back to 1993 when the late Campbell MacCallum assembled boats and crew outside the boathouse to create an image to display inside the crew room. Campbell's picture was adapted as a poster by the RNLI and was reproduce worldwide and let to a regular tradition of team posters taken at stations around the UK.

The 150th annivesary is being marked with a week of activities from 11th to 16th July centred around an open day on 13th July where a vellum will be presented by the RNLI to the station and current and historic lifeboats will sail in a flotilla up to the quay.

See all news...

Shannon Latest

Planning permission has been granted for a new lifeboat station at Wells to house our forthcoming Shannon-class all weather lifeboat but legal work relating to the new site has taken longer than expected and we are now hoping that building work will be able to start in September 2019. This will take around 18 months to complete so our new Shannon-class lifeboat should then come into service late in 2021.

Funding for the new lifeboat was raised in part with a station appeal for £250,000 in 2014-15 and also by the Civil Service charity The Lifeboat Fund with its 150th Anniversary Appeal. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has donated, fund-raised, helped and supported us both locally and across the UK and even further afield. Your contribution is appreciated and will help to save lives and keep our volunteeer crews safe in the years to come. Read more about the station appeal

Exercise Launches

Our next scheduled exercise launches are shown below. You are welcome to come and watch the lifeboats launch on the beach at the front of the lifeboat house... but please ensure you keep well to one side and that children are supervised. Exercises may be cancelled or rescheduled at short notice due to operational reasons.

Thursday 29 August 17:00
Regular exercise

Thursday 12 September 17:00
Regular exercise

Sunday 29 September 09:00
Low water launch in Holkham Bay

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity, registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). This website is managed and maintained by local volunteers at Wells-next-the-Sea Lifeboat Station and is not the main RNLI site. All text and images copyright (C)2005-2019 RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station, or as indicated, and may not be downloaded, copied or reproduced elsewhere without prior permission of the station or the relevant copyright holder. Site Manager