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

26 August 2016

Humber Coastguard paged the ILB after a member of the public dialled 999 and reported seeing a woman and two children entering the water on Wells beach but had lost sight of the group and feared they may have been swept away by the tide. The ILB launched at 16:45 but almost immediately was stood down after the RNLI lifeguards confirmed everyone was safely ashore. The ILB was re-housed and ready for service at 17:10.

Weather Part cloudy Visibility Good Wind W 2 Sea Calm

26 August 2016

Humber Coastguard paged for an immediate launch of the ILB to assist the 25 foot yacht Almare after the skipper issued a Mayday saying the vessel was taking on water and sinking in the approaches to Wells harbour. The ILB, with four crew on board, launched at 20:52 and located the Almare at anchor to seaward of the harbour entrance at 20.59. Two crew members were placed on-board and reported that the water level was some way up inside the cabin area and the vessel's small bilge pump was not coping with the ingress of water which was thought to be coming in around the vessel's keel box. Bailing began with the aid of a bucket to try and reduce the water level while arrangements were made to transport the all-weather lifeboat's portable salvage pump to the ILB via the station's Softrak vehicle.

Rendezvousing on the west side of the harbour channel, the Softrak transferred the pump to the ILB at 21:23 and the lifeboat was back alongside the Almare at 21:30. The two crew members on-board had by this time stabilised the situation and with the water level now down the skipper began to affect a temporary repair to stem further flooding.

With sufficient water at the start of the flood tide to enter the harbour channel, at 21:49 the ILB began a slow tow to the outer harbour where both vessels were met by harbour staff at 22:27. Once safely secured alongside and with the harbour's portable pump now on-board the casualty, the ILB was released to return to station. Following recovery the ILB was re-housed, re-fuelled and ready for service at 23:11.

After a debrief, it is believed that the skipper had been told on leaving Grimsby that he could access Wells harbour at any state of the tide which had resulted in the vessel running aground. Although the skipper managed to get his vessel to seaward again, the grounding probably resulted in damage to the yacht's drop keel and keel box allowing the water ingress.

Weather Cloudy Visibility Good Wind SW 2 Sea Slight

18 August 2016

Wells Lifeboat was paged by Humber Coastguard at 08:22 to render assistance to the 10m yacht Baby Beluga with 2 persons onboard which had been dismasted 5nm NE of Wells harbour. The windfarm support vessel Umoe Firmus stoody by the casualty prior to the arrival of the lifeboat at 09:02. The yacht's rigged sales and broken mast were still attached to the vessel and in the water along the starboard side of the vessel.

At 09:15 four lifeboat crewmembers were placed onboard the yacht and set about the task of bringing the sails and rigging on-board and recovering and lashing the broken mast to the side of the vessel so that a tow could be connected. At 09:45 preparations to tow were complete and the lifeboat and yacht proceeded towards Wells.

The lifeboat arrived at the entrance to Wells Harbour at 10.25 and as the tide was ebbing out strongly and with insufficient water for the lifeboat to proceed up the channel, the tow was transferred to the Wells harbour RIB William T which then towed the casualty to a safe mooring at the outer harbour. With her work completed the lifeboat departed the casualty at 10:30 and proceeded to Holkham Bay for a low water recovery, going ashore at 11:05.

Cloudy Cloudy Visibility Good Wind ENE 4 Sea Slight

Recovering the rig on <I>Baby Beluga</i>, 18 August 2016

Recovering the rig on Baby Beluga, 18 August 2016FW

Recovering the rig on <I>Baby Beluga</i>, 18 August 2016

Recovering the rig on Baby Beluga, 18 August 2016FW

<I>Baby Beluga</i> under tow back to Wells, 18 August 2016

Baby Beluga under tow towards Wells, 18 August 2016FW

<I>Baby Beluga</i> back in Wells harbour, 18 August 2016

Baby Beluga back in Wells harbour, 18 August 2016CH

30 July 2016

An ILB launch request was received from Humber Coastguard at 12:54 after a concerned member of the public had reported what was thought to be a person and dog cut off by the tide on the east side of the harbour channel, south of number 4 buoy. The crew were paged at 12:57. Launching at 13:05, the ILB proceeded to the area but only found a person with a kayak who did not require any assistance. As a precaution the ILB carried out a sweep of the harbour channel towards the town but with nothing found was stood down at 13:18. The boat was rehoused and ready again for service by 13:36.

Weather Cloudy Visibility Good Wind WNW 2 Sea Calm

29 July 2016

Humber Coastguard requested an inshore lifeboat launch following a report that the harbour patrol boat had witnessed a person enter the water fully clothed and acting in an agitated manner. Both local Coastguard and police had already been tasked to the incident as the crew of the patrol boat had lost sight of the person who it was thought was now in the foreshore dunes. The ILB was requested to carry out a shoreline search of Holkham Bay while the shore-based teams searched the dunes. As the person had not been found the search, which now included a police helicopter, moved to the pinewoods between Holkham Gap and Wells while the ILB was requested to remain on-scene in case the person returned to the water's edge. After an extensive search, with the person not found, the lifeboat was released at 18:21. It was re-housed, re-fuelled and ready for service at 18:50.

Weather Cloudy Visibility Good Wind NW 2 Sea Slight

25 July 2016

The inshore lifeboat was paged to an incident involving a 2 man canoe that had been discovered on the beach at Holkham gap with no occupants or paddles. The ILB crew were paged at 13:52 to commence a shoreline search for the possible missing occupants of the canoe. The ILB launched outside the boathouse at 14:00 and commenced its search to the west of the harbour toward Gun Hill and Burnham Overy harbour. Humber Coastguard modified and expanded its initial shoreline search to a parallel search of approximately 10 miles by 5 miles with search bands of 0.3 miles and it was therefore suggested, given the area involved, that the ALB should also be deployed to assist. The ALB left the boathouse at 14:30 and launched in Holkham Bay at 14:55.

Both lifeboats then carried out an extensive search with the Coastguard helicopter, which was also tasked to the incident, in conjunction with local Coastguard units on the shore who searched the local beaches, harbours and inlets.

At 16:18 the Coastguard released the helicopter declaring that the search had been completed in full and was comprehensive and had not located any potential casualties. The ILB was released at 16:20 and the ALB at 16:25. The ILB was ashore at 17:00 and was refuelled, rehoused and ready for service at 17:25. The ALB was ashore at 17:10 and returned to the boathouse at 18:05 following a low water recovery in Holkham Bay. It was rehoused, refuelled and ready for service at 18:45.

Weather Part cloud Visibility Good Wind WSW 2 Sea Smooth

23 July 2016

Humber Coastguard requested an ILB launch at 18:32 to assist 3 adults and 1 child reported cut off by the tide on the east side of Wells harbour channel. The crew were paged at 18:33. Launching at 18:47, the ILB quickly located the casualties where they were taken on-board and ferried to the main beach. Returning to station at 18:56, the lifeboat was rehoused, refuelled and ready for service at 19:15.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW 3 Sea Smooth

21 July 2016

The local NCI watch keepers reported to Humber Coastguard that two persons appeared to be cut off by the tide on the west side of the harbour channel, south of No.1 buoy. An ILB launch request was received at 17:04 with the crew being paged at 17:07. Launching from the boathouse at 17:16 the ILB arrived with the casualties five minutes later where the two adults were taken on-board and transported back to the boathouse. After ascertaining no further assistance was required, the ILB was re-housed, re-fuelled and ready for service at 17:58.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind NE 2 Sea Smooth

20 July 2016

Humber Coastguard requested an ILB launch to investigate a report of a small vessel seen drifting off Scolt Head island. The crew were paged at 20:36 and the station's new ILB D-797 launched on service for the first time at 20.45. At 21.00 the ILB was on-scene and reported that there was no one on board the dinghy, approx. 4m in length with a small outboard engine. However there were personal effects on board which indicated that the occupants had not intended to leave the vessel. A full-scale search was initiated by Humber Coastguard, with a request to launch the ALB and the Rescue 912 SAR helicopter scrambled.

The ALB launched at 21.20 and commenced a search close inshore across Holkham Bay towards the location where the dinghy had been found. In the meantime the ILB towed the dinghy into Brancaster harbour, carrying out a search on route. On reaching Brancaster harbour the dinghy was secured to a sailing mark with the ILB then returning to continue searching in conjunction with the ALB.

At 22:10 the local Coastguard team reported that a similar vessel had been sighted drifting on the morning tide and that the owner of the dinghy had now been identified and all persons were accounted for. With this confirmation, the helicopter and both lifeboats were stood down. Arriving at the boathouse at 22:35 both boats were recovered, rehoused, refuelled and ready for service at 23.30.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW 2 Sea Smooth

8 July 2016

Humber Coastguard received a 999 call from a concerned parent of one of three teenage girls who were overdue and had failed to meet at a given time and point in Burnhan Overy harbour. The ILB was paged at 11:51 but as the crew were assembling, Humber Coastguard informed the station the girls had been found safe and well. The ILB and crew were stood down at 12:01.

Latest News

New painting celebrates horse-drawn lifeboat launches

Wed 3 Aug 2016

Artist Shirley Carnt with the new painting

Artist Shirley Carnt with the new painting

Artist Shirley Carnt's new painting is based on filming undertaken on Holkham Beach last year for a Lloyds bank advertisement featuring a horse-drawn lifeboat launch. The painting is to be donated to the station but will be on show at Shirley's summer exhibition at her studio at The Coastguard House, The Green, Thornham, PE36 6NH, which runs from 10am to 6pm every day from 20th August to 10th September 2016.

Five Wells crewmembers joined to help with the filming with the historic former Upgang and Whitby lifeboat William Riley. The television commerical along with posters based on still images from it received wide exposure last year.

Horses played a major role in launching lifeboats around the UK right up to the 1930s. At Wells, horses were rounded up from local farms to tow the lifeboat on its carriage out over Holkham Beach to the sea. Committee notes dating back to 1869, when the station was formed, show it was not always easy to persuade owners to let their horses be used. In Novemer 1872, the minutes note:

Mr. Lord having refused to furnish horses to take the boat down to Holkham Beach on the 15th inst. It was resolved that a letter be written to Mr. Walker asking him if he would provide horses when required for carriage of the Boat.

and again in 1876,

Proposed by C. Middleton, seconded by R.R. Rump that all the farms in Wells be asked if they are willing to supply horses to transport the Life Boat to any point required.

And in Sept 1877:

Proposed by Mr. J. Wilden that Misters H.R. Rump, R.R. Rump, H.A. Dewing and J. Andrews wait upon the farmers above or near this beach to know if they will supply horses to convey the Life Boat to any place required.

It seems that farmers were unwilling to volunteer their animals for free:

Jan 1878. Mr. Charles Middleton having offered the use of eight horses for one year to convey the Boat to any place required at the cost of 10s for each horse.
Nov 1879. C. Middleton Esq. has agreed to find horses to convey the Boat to any place for the sum of ten shillings per hour and two shillings and six pence for each driver.

Wells was the last RNLI lifeboat station to use horses to launch its lifeboat, with a tractor finally being installed to replace them in 1936.

  Visit Shirley Carnt's website

Lifeboat service draws a crowd on the quayside

Wed 3 Aug 2016

Our 56th annual lifeboat service at the quayside

Our 56th annual lifeboat service at the quayside

An estimated 1000 people attended the 56th Annual Lifeboat Service on Wells Quay on Sunday.

The lifeboat chaplain, the Reverend Neil Woodruff, led the service and gave the address from on-board the all-weather lifeboat Doris M Mann of Ampthill. The readers were Coxswain Allen Frary and crewmembers Jim Heasman and Angel Eaglen who has also been crowned this year’s Carnival Queen. Operations Manager Chris Hardy gave the closing prayers and vote of thanks to all who have supported the lifeboats in Wells so magnificently over the years.

The traditional seafarers' hymns were accompanied by the Fakenham Town Band and led by the Churches Together choir. During the final hymn, Abide With Me, the inshore lifeboat went round all the small boats anchored in the quay for the service to take a collection while Guild members collected from those on the quayside. As this was taking place the Mersey Class all-weather lifeboat did a circuit of the harbour sounding her siren before returning to the boathouse.

The collection raised £2016.76 for lifeboat funds.

Thank you Tesco

Tue 26 Jul 2016

Tesco in Fakenham kindly donated essential supplies for our recent open day... pictured is Guild Secretary Amanda Hastings with Tesco Community Champion Sara and Sue, one of the store's managers.

See all news...

Open Evenings

Wells lifeboat station is open on Wednesday evenings through August. You can hear a short talk about our work and history, meet and chat with some of the crew and go on-board the our Mersey class all-weather lifeboat. Younger visitors also have the chance to sit in our inshore lifeboat and perhaps try some of our kit for size.

All welcome... doors open from 6.30pm to 9pm or a bit later if it's busy.

Wells Shannon
Lifeboat Appeal
target reached!

After 17 months fund-raising, we reached our target to raise £250,000 towards a new Shannon-class lifeboat for Wells and the North Norfolk coast.

We are hugely grateful to everyone who has donated, fund-raised, helped and supported us both locally and from right 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 appeal

And here's just some of the people and events that helped to make it happen... thank you page

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)2005-2014 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