Lifeboats and Lifeboatmen

For introductory information see Lifeboat House.

Burnham’s first lifeboat after the RNLI took over the service in 1866 was the ‘Cheltenham’, so named because it was provided from money raised in that town.


The Cheltenham (1866-1887).

Extract  from lengthy report in Cheltenham Western Gazette 26th Oct 1866:

Photo above courtesy of Ann Popham. See comment at bottom of page from Bryan Hughes re current location of this board.

Additional information about the Cheltenham can be found here.

Image used with kind permission of  of Bob & June Thomas, date unknown.


The John Godfrey Morris

This boat replaced the Cheltenham in 1887

Above: John Godfrey Morris & Crew on launch rails 1898


Above: Is this the Cheltenham or the John Godfrey Morris?

Landing the John Godfrey Morris.

Additional information about the John Godfrey Morris can be found here.

The Philip Beach (1902 – 30)

Launching the Philip Beach

The Hopwood on launcher (substituted for Philip Beach during overhaul 1926-7)

Log of the Philip Beach below shows use of Hopwood as substitute.

Boat launcher, note mooring piles on jetty still in place, so pre-1909.

Lifeboat Cox Hunt (with pipe). Date unknown. See headstone below.

Hopwood on the tide.

Article from Burnham Gazette in 1914:


The Royal National Lifeboat Institute has kindly provided us with scans of pension records for the Burnham Station showing the paid crew members during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Log of the Philip Beach below shows closure of service in 1930. Remarks column shows distribution of certifications to crew.

Memorials to two of Burnham’s lifeboatmen in the Westfield Rd Cemetery.

The inscription above reads: In Memoriam, Richard Cox of Burnham. For 20 years valued and trusted as coxwain of the National Lifeboat. Respected in life lamented in death. Died January 29th 1890 aged 44 years. The waters roar and be troubled but God is our refuge and strength. This stone is erected by subscriptions from friends and neighbours. Also of Julia Emma, wife of the above, who died April 5th 1907 aged 59 years.

Photos courtesy of Des Parsons.


Information Required

The photo below is from the Glyn Luxon archive but has no information attached. It has some very clear images of lifeboatmen but we do not know the date or which lifeboat this is.

If anyone recognises a forebear in this photograph, or has any information about family members who were in the early lifeboat services, please let us know  via comments below.

Hayley Whiting at the RNLI museum has now sent us the following information :

John Godfrey Morris was a 34ft 1.3/4″ self righting boat, with 10 round oars, and 2 masts. Hopwood also had sails and 2 masts but 12 oars. The photo looks to me like there are 6 oars in view on the right so I’d say this was Hopwood.

8 thoughts on “Lifeboats and Lifeboatmen”

  1. Hi, my Great Grandfather George Thomas was bosuns mate with the John Godfrey Morris, and was other boats serving the Burnham on sea area.

    1. Hello Tim and thank you for your posting.
      Are the photos with George in new to you ? Do you have any other of him with the lifeboat or any other boats?
      Thanks and please let us know if you have any other news worthy information about his work.

  2. Nicholas Leach, an authority on Lifeboats & Lifeboat stations and the author of several books, has informed me that the two service boards are now to be found, side by side, on a wall inside the current Lifeboat station at Burnham. He has also provided me with a photo to confirm.
    Thank you for your help and I trust that this news is of help to the group as well.

  3. Hi
    Can anyone please advise where the ‘blue’ lifeboat service board is located these days?
    I am aware that the ‘black’ service board is now back with the local RNLI branch and my interest is wholly focused on location of the ‘blue’ one.
    Regards to John Strickland who might remember me from his ROF days as EHS manager.
    Thanks in anticipation.

    1. Thanks for your question Bryan. I do not know the answer myself but have put out a query to some people who might, and will update if the information is forthcoming.

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