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DOWAGER: Pro Gallery


1940 Rosa Wood and Phyllis Lunn
Type:  R.N.L.I. Lifeboat
Length:  41 ft
Beam:  11ft 8ins
Draft:  3ft 6ins
Displacement:  15 tons
Engine:  2 x Parsons Porbeagle Diesels
Construction:  Mahogany on oak
Builder:  Gorves & Gutteridge, Cowes IoW
Year:  1932

Rescuing people in severe conditions is every-day work for the lifeboats and it is not only at Dunkirk that they have earned their medals. The Rosa Woodd and Phyllis Lunn was launched in 1933 and was Shoreham's 5th lifeboat. The cost of £6,500 was met by a private legacy and other collections. But in order to accommodate the boat a new boathouse had to be built together with a slipway so that her launching was not dependent upon the state of the tide. She served for thirty years, during which time she was launched 244 times and saved 143 lives. She then spent another ten years on the reserve fleet of the RNLI. She made three trips from the beaches of Dunkirk back to Dover, but naval crews did not keep detailed logs which are the rule in the RNLI. There is a story that the naval officer in charge protected his men from shrapnel and strafing by constructing a makeshift wheelhouse from steel plate.

On 16th November 1941 she was called out to the President Briand, a mine-sweeper, which was in danger of being driven ashore by a strong south wind off Shoreham. The lifeboat's coxswain was put aboard the President Briand and the SS Goole, a ‘blockship’, went out to tow her in. By then, the wind had increased to a gale and the Goole also got into difficulties. The lifeboat attempted to tow both ships, but the ropes parted. She had to go alongside six or seven times before taking off all twenty-one men including the lifeboat's own coxswain. She came back to harbour through heavy, breaking seas eleven hours after she had first gone out. The acting coxswain, James Upperton, in charge for the first time, earned a silver medal for gallantry and Henry Philcox, her motor mechanic, the bronze medal.

On 8th August 1948, the Rosa Woodd and Phyllis Lunn again hit the headlines when, in a strong south-westerly gale off the Sussex coast, she went out to rescue a yacht. The lifeboat used her sails to help her engines and pursued the yacht for fourteen miles to Newhaven where, only 500 yards offshore, heavy seas washed right over her. Yet despite the tremendous seas, the lifeboat, with unbelievable skill, went straight into the surf and plucked the three men, two women and a boy off the yacht to safety.

In 1973 T.B. Lawrence bought the Rosa Woodd and Phyllis Lunn, then lying at Bangor near Belfast. He re-named her Dowager and apparently converted her into a cruising yacht.

DOWAGER: TeamMember
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