Appledore's long and proud tradition with lifeboats goes back to 1829 - before the RNLI was even formed. The station's history is so rich that only a brief summary can be made here. We hope that you will be able to get a little of the effort and human endeavour that has gone into keeping this voluntary service running for those in peril at sea from this synopsis.


   There were, at times 3 stations open at the same time! All of these were manned by the Appledore Crew, and which boat went was decided by where the casualty was. The Braunton Burrows Boat would go for a casualty anywhere from the North Tail, or Airy point to Saunton or Woolacombe. The Northam Burrows Boat would go for anything from the South Tail down to Westward Ho! And the Appledore Boat was for anything inside Bideford Bar. All that changed when the RNLB Jane Hannah MacDonald arrived at the Appledore Boathouse in 1889.


   This history has been broken down and summarised under the following linked sections...





The stations were taken over by the RNLI.

Over a period of 90 years (1829–1919) 21 Silver Medals were awarded for rescues to the many shipwrecks that occurred off the coast.

1919 The lifeboat station at Appledore became the main station.
1922 The station’s first motor lifeboat arrived.


1928 A Centenary Vellum was awarded to the station.
1935 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Second Coxswain GHE Pow for saving three men from the fishing vessel Lee Bay.
1944 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for rescuing seven crew from a concrete harbour unit 10 miles off Morte Point.


1950 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for a service to the steamer Monte Gurugu which sank south of Lundy Island on 12 November 1949. With Ilfracombe and Clovelly lifeboats they saved 24 people but 13 of the Monte Gurugu’s crew died.
1956 Robert Cann, aged 10, a great-nephew of Coxswain Sidney Cann, was presented with a watch for rescuing two boys.


1959 The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was awarded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for a service to the Polish ship Gilwice.
1963 A Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain Sidney Cann for a service to the RFA tanker Green Ranger off Hartland Point on 17–18 November 1962.
1964 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Second Coxswain John Richard Bowden for rescuing four crew from the yacht Volunteer.
1966 On 1 January the lifeboat took two doctors to Lundy Island to treat a seriously ill woman. Due to the conditions they were put ashore using the South Lighthouse stores hoist. Dr Brooke and Dr Ruddock were recognised in the Book of Valour of the British Medical Association.


1971 Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum were awarded to Dr DF Valentine and Crew Member John Pavitt for a service to an injured seaman on board the Manchester Merit. John Pavitt saved the doctor from being crushed as he was climbing aboard the vessel.


1972 An inshore B class Atlantic 21 lifeboat was sent to the station. This was kept in the 1889 boathouse.
1975 A celebration 150th anniversary Vellum was awarded to the station.
1986 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Helmsman John Pavitt for rescuing a windsurfer in very rough seas on 1 December 1985.
1988 The Tyne class lifeboat, ON1140- George Gibson, was placed on service.
1995 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Michael Bowden for rescuing the crew of the fishing vessel Torridge Warrior close to Bideford Bar buoy on 31 March 1994.
1997 A new Atlantic 75 lifeboat, B-742 Douglas Paley, was placed on service on 11 December.
2001 A new boathouse and slipway were completed.


2005 Helmsman Gary Stanbury is to be awarded the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's Bronze Medal* for Gallantry after saving three people from a stranded powerboat Kasam. Crew Members Andrew Hallet and Martin Davis are to receive Medal Service Badges and Certificates.



New Tamar Class Lifeboat RNLB Mollie Hunt (16-16) placed on station March 28th.


2012 New Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat, B-861 Glanely, was placed on station 9th July

Past Appledore Lifeboats:

1825-1858 Volunteer
1831-1848 Assistance
1847-1852 Petrel I
1889-1907 Jane Hannah McDonald I
1907-1910 Jane Hannah McDonald II
1910-1922 Jane Hannah McDonald III
1922-1938 VCS
1938 - 1962 1938-1962 Violet Armstrong
1962 - 1987 1962-1987 Louisa Ann Hawker
1988 - 2010 George Gibson
2010 - present Mollie Hunt

Previous Appledore Inshore Lifeboats:

1972 - 1974 Reserve Lifeboats
1975 - 1986 Whizzer
1986 - 1997 Manchester & District XXXII
1997 - 2012 Douglas Paley
2012 - Present Glanely

Previous Braunton Burrows Lifeboats:

1848-1857 Assistance
1857-1866 Dolphin
1866-1881 George and Catherine
1881-1902 Robert & Catherine I
1902-1912 Robert & Catherine II
1912-1918 Robert & Catherine III

Previous Northam Burrows Lifeboats:

1852-1861 Petrel
1856-1862 Mermaid
1862-1890 Hope
1870-1875 Mary Anne I
1875-1885 Mary Anne II
1885-1889 Jane Hannah MacDonald
1862-1890 No. 8 Reserve LB
1891-1897 Bessie Pearce