200 Years Ago in Norwich : Creation of a Lifeboat Service in Norfolk

Another post in my series of what was happening in Norwich 200 years ago this week.

In November 1823, the Norwich Mercury published this letter:

“Sir – We beg to request your attendance at a Meeting to be held at the Shirehall, at Norwich, at Two o’clock, on Saturday, the 22nd November, for the purpose of forming an Association for saving the Lives of Shipwrecked Mariners on the whole line of the Coast of Norfolk.

The object of this Association will be raise Funds sufficient to place Life Boats and the Apparatus for saving Life, invented by Captain Manby and others, on different points where they may appear to be likely to be serviceable, and sufficient to give due recompense to persons as shall assist in cases of Shipwreck. Should you be unable to attend, may we beg that you will signify whether you are disposed to support such an Association by letter addressed to JJ Gurney, Esq, Norwich.

Signed by John Wodehouse, Thomas William Cook, Edmond Wodehouse, Suffield.”

The Norfolk Association for Saving the Lives of Shipwrecked Mariners was successfully founded and it became part of the RNLI in December 1857. The first lifeboat had been designed by Lionel Lukin in 1785 who patented what he called the world’s first unsinkable boat. There were some forward thinkers in Norfolk, as the RNLI wasn’t created until 4 March 1824. The readers of this letter to the newspaper in 1823 helped to create an institution which has saved hundreds of lives along the Norfolk coastline over the last 200 years.