PortCities London
UKBristolHartlepoolLiverpoolLondonSouthampton
You are here:  PortCities London home > The working Thames > Trades, industries and institutions
Text Only About this Site Feedback
Explore this site
About maritime London
Early port
Tudor and Stuart port
18th-century port
19th-century port
20th-century port
People and places
Port communities
Crime and punishment
Leisure, health and housing
Thames art, literature and architecture
The working Thames
London's docks and shipping
Trades, industries and institutions
Port of science and discovery
Historical events
Ceremony and catastrophe
London in war and conflict
Fun and games
Things to do
Timeline games
Matching games
Send an e-card

Lifesaving on the Thames

Introduction
A national lifesaving organization
A standard lifeboat design
The Thames lifeboat builders
The Thames: test tank and 'shop window'
A 21st century service
*
Send this story to a friendSend this story to a friend
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
View this story in picturesView this story in pictures

A standard lifeboat design

Northumberland's design challenge

James Peake, Woolwich.
View full size imagePlan of the design submitted by James Peake, Master Shipwright of HM Dockyard at Woolwich. © NMM
By 1850, it was becoming clear that there was a need for a standard design of a shore-based lifeboat. In October of that year, the Duke of Northumberland offered a premium of 100 guineas (£105.00) for the best lifeboat design.

The competition was advertized in the national and local press. This resulted in 280 entries, including 82 from London and 11 from other countries. Entrants were asked to submit scale models and plans of their designs, which were then assessed by a committee against a set of criteria. This even included testing models in the Thames for stability.

Beeching's winning design

'Pulling and Sailing'
View full size imageModel of the standard pulling and sailing self-righting lifeboat, c. 1860. © NMM
The competition was won by James Beeching of Great Yarmouth. His design clearly led the way as it was the first to be efficiently self-righting if turned over.

After Beeching's lifeboat was built and exhaustive trials had been carried out, the management committee decided that they would try to combine the best features of all the other entries submitted into a single design. 

The committee asked James Peake, Master Shipwright of the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, to prepare drawings and build the new improved boat. The result, known as the 'Self Righting Pulling and Sailing Lifeboat', became the mainstay of the RNLI's fleet for the next 50 years.


*
*
Find out more
StoriesHospitals in the port
The port was a dangerous place
*
*
*
StoriesPolicing the Port of London
Fighting crime in maritime London
*
*
*
StoriesThames Ironworks
Building for London and the world
*
*
8
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
Legal & CopyrightPartner sites:BristolHartlepoolLiverpoolSouthamptonAbout this SiteFeedbackText Only