Plan to restore Mary Stanford lifeboat house

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The Friends of the Mary Stanford Lifeboat House and residents of Rye Harbour received an early Christmas with the transfer from the Environment Agency of the boathouse to the Friends to restore.

Rye Harbour Parish Councillor Jacqueline Stanford said: “This is such good news to finally take ownership.

It seems to have been a long time coming, but I have to thank the local Environment Agency team for all their support in finally achieving this end.”

The Mary Stanford Lifeboat with her crew of 17 was launched from this lifeboat house into a south-westerly gale with winds in excess of 80 miles per hour raging in the English Channel to save a stricken vessel – not one of the Rye Harbour men ever returned.

The 17 RNLI crewmen rowed the non-self righting 14 oar boat away from the beach with great effort and no motor power to aid them.

This is the biggest loss of life from a single lifeboat in the history of the RNLI, and the Grade II Listed boathouse remains one of the most important buildings in the history of Rye Harbour.

Fifteen bodies washed ashore. Three months later the sea gave up the body of Henry Cutting, who was washed ashore at Eastbourne, and the body of the youngest crewman John Head aged 17 was never found.

Jacqueline Stanford said: “The impact of the disaster on the Rye Harbour community was devastating and deeply affected all who lived there.

“The disaster was also felt worldwide, and was front page news over the days that followed. The funeral was attended by hundreds including the Latvian Minister.”

The lifeboat house has not been used since the disaster.

For more information on how to join the Friends of the Mary Stanford Lifeboat House phone: 01797 226908 or email: jacqui.stanford@lineone.net.