This rundown building once housed the Mary Stanford lifeboat. It stands on the shore near Rye Harbour and is a grade 2 listed building. The old lifeboat house has remained unused since 15th November 1928. On that day the Mary Stanford lifeboat was launched with a crew of 17 to answer the distress call of a Latvian ship named ‘Alice of Riga’ which had been in a collision with a German ship named ‘Smyrna’. The wind was blowing in excess of 80 mph, as the crew manhandled the 4 ton boat over the shingle and sand, then pushed off into the storm. As they rowed away word was received that the crew of the troubled ship had all been saved. The lifeboat crew could not see the signals from the shore, and the Mary Stanford continued on. The storm overcame them and all 17 crew perished. The full details can be read here or there is a great video here that tells the story with images of the boat and crew which is worth watching all the way through.
The boat house is one and a half miles from Rye Harbour, this map shows how isolated is it.
The sea defenses have been installed since 1928 as far as I know, this view was taken from the sea’s edge (or close, I didn’t get my feet wet). The tide was about half way out at the time, however there are large areas of sand flats where the shingle ends and at low tide the sea is at least another 100 meters further out. Snow Patrol filmed one of their music videos here.
Exposed to the elements and covered with people’s initial’s scratched into the brickwork the boat house has a certain character. It is not totally abandoned though as fund raising is in progress to restore it and possibly add a ‘coastal classroom’ for local children to use.Â
The crew’s memorial is in Rye Harbour church, which is here. You can buy a book about the Mary Stanford lifeboat written by Geoff Hutchinson from Amazon here. All photos here can be clicked and viewed full size in Flickr.
Long term readers of this blog my recognise this article as a repost, which is correct. I have updated the photos to better ones however!