Cullercoats’ first motorised lifeboat – June 5, 1937

Richard Silver.
Richard Silver.

The first motorised lifeboat put into service in Cullercoats was built using a legacy from Isabella Anne Oliver, of Tadcaster, Yorkshire.

The ‘Liverpool’ class lifeboat had a single 35hp engine and was also fitted with sails. Her service of dedication and naming ceremony was performed on June 5, 1937, where she was christened Richard Silver Oliver, in honour of Mrs Oliver’s husband by Sir John Ramsden, listed in 1939 ‘Who’s Who’ as 6th Baronet, owner of 150,000 acres of land.

Richard Silver Oliver was captain of the Royal Horse Guards and left an estate of nearly £24,000 to his widow Isabella Anne (nee Ramsden) on his death at Bolton Lodge in the West Riding in February 1889.

Following her death at Oxton Hall, Tadcaster in June 1908 over £150,000 was left to Frederick William Ramsden, retired Army captain, and Caryl John Ramsden, retired Army major.

The new lifeboat was launched into service for the first time on April 23, 1938. On April 22, 1939 Richard Silver Oliver with her crew and RNLI District Engineer John Smith set out from Cullercoats Haven on a practice run, but the non-self-righting boat overturned in heavy waves near King Edward Bay and six men lost their lives. Mr Smith survived the ordeal, as did lifeboatmen James Carmichael and Oliver Tweedy. Jeff Morris gives an account of the disaster in his “History of the Cullercoats Lifeboats” written in 1994.

The Cullercoats Lifeboat Station remained closed until the self-righting boat Westmorland was delivered in February 1940. If anyone has further information please ask for Discover at North Shields Customer First Centre on (0191) 643 5270 or email