History of lifeboats in Cork Harbour

Queenstown Lifeboat Station was established by the Institution in 1866 following several wrecks with loss of life off Cork Harbour. The opening of the station is described in the Lifeboat Journal for July 1867. With one Silver Medal service and a long service to the wreck of the “Lusitania”, the station was closed in 1920. The old station and slipway can still be seen today, where it is used as a base by 4th Cork (Cobh) Sea Scouts near Port Operations.

However, the first record of a lifeboat in Cork Harbour was as far back as 1825, one year after the founding of the Institution. A boat was built in Passage West and sailed to Liverpool in an unsuccessful attempt to get the Institution to adopt the design.

Queenstown Station Timeline
Year Details
1861 Lt. Thomas Goss RN & John Starke (both Coastguard) awarded Silver Medals in acknowledgement of their gallant and persevering exertions in rescuing at great risk, by means of the rocket apparatus, 12 out of 13 of the crew of the Austrian Brig “Uredon” which had been driven ashore on 12 January.
1866 Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £218 on site granted by War Department.
1874 Lifeboat house rebuilt on new site for £423.
1878 Silver medal awarded to Gunner H. Stevens, who swam twice to the Brigantine “Princess Royal” of Cardigan on December 24 in an attempt to establish communication. The lifeboat failed to reach the wreck and all five crew were drowned.
1890 A second, larger, lifeboat sent to station to be kept afloat.
1891 No. 2 lifeboat broke adrift from her moorings in a heavy gale on 18 October and, in spite of the efforts of the crew, she was driven against the sea wall and severely damaged. One man was thrown out between boat and wall and was injured.
1899 No. 1 Station closed.
1915 May 7 No. 2 lifeboat attends the wreck of the Lusitania, torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale.
1920 Station closed. Committee of Management voted Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and a silver inkstand to Captain George Usborne on the closing of the station for his services as Station Honorary Secretary for nearly 40 years.

Past Coxwains & Honorary Secretaries

Coxwain Period (no record prior to 1886)
F Elliot 1886-1903
J McCarthy 1903-1906
C O’Sullivan 1906-1908
J Gill 1908-1920
Hon. Secretary Period
Sir Thomas Tobin DL FSA 1866-1869
Captain H H O’Bryan HM 1869-1872
Captain W D Seymour 1872-1879
Captain N Sutton Dep HM 1879-1883
Captain G Usborne RN 1883-1919
Commander A H C Home RN 1919-1920

Station Lifeboats

O.N. Lifeboat Donor Period No. Launches Lives Saved Cost
302 (No. 1 station) Quiver No. 2 Gift of “Quiver” Magazine Lifeboat Fund 34′ 10-oared self righter 1866-1899 15 13 £303
272 (No. 2 station) Endeavour Legacy of Miss Ann Ball of London 1890-1901 6 £667
457 (No. 2 station) James Stevens No. 20 Legacy of James Stevens of Birmingham (one of 20 lifeboats) 1901-1920 6 £1,739