6 December 2023

RNLI Humber leaves Spurn for good

by Sam Hawcroft

The lifesaving service provided by Humber RNLI has moved permanently from Spurn Point to maintain the best response possible for those in need of help, the charity has confirmed.

Leaving a place pivotal to the 200-year history of the station and even a home to their families in the past has been difficult for the crews, but structural issues with the jetty make it essential to operate from elsewhere, the RNLI said.

Humber RNLI will continue to provide a vital lifesaving search and rescue service from Grimsby in well-practised arrangements.

Jamie King, area lifesaving manager for the RNLI, said: “Grimsby has been a satellite site for the Humber Lifeboat for many years where we could operate when weather conditions at Spurn Point weren’t favourable.

“We have a long history with Spurn Point, where we have launched to many hundreds of rescues in the past 213 years – 33 of which led to medals for gallantry – and entire families even lived there to support their loved ones.

“Sadly, a routine structural inspection in February revealed some matters that needed further investigation and, following that, we must relocate from Spurn permanently.

“It is essential that we provide safe access for our crews and that charity money is invested wisely. It is not financially viable to fund a project at such a dynamic, evolving, remote site and, therefore, not possible to safely access the lifeboat.

“We have well-practised plans in place to operate from Grimsby and our committed lifeboat crews continue providing a highly professional and skilled lifesaving response from our new base so, if people visiting the coast need our help, they will still get an excellent response.”

The issues affecting Spurn Point include ageing infrastructure. This means it is no longer commercially viable – or the best use of public donations – or safe for the RNLI to operate from this remote location.

Plans are being developed to create a permanent lifesaving facility at Grimsby, which is to include the ability to help develop crews from around the UK.

Humber Lifeboat Station has been increasingly active in supporting the development of crews from all around the British Isles over the past number of years, alongside providing a continued lifesaving service, because of the variety of experience it can offer other crews.

Former RNLI Humber coxswain Dave Steenvoorden, who first joined the station in 1990, said that, while from a heritage perspective he was extremely saddened by the move, it was the right thing to do operationally.

He said: “I was privileged to be coxswain for the 200th anniversary of the station at Spurn, which actually predates the establishment of the RNLI itself. Humber RNLI is Spurn, and vice-versa.

“It would have broken my heart had I been the one in charge when the move happened, but sadly it is the right decision – I can’t see any other way of doing it.

“It was a wrench-and-a-half when the families were moved off the Point in 2012, and the crew were still living there six days on, six days off until the move to Grimsby, where there is a purpose-built cabin.

“It’s always been a satellite station and it won’t have much of an impact on the lifeboat’s operations – times have changed, and there is a major new lifeboat station being built at Cleethorpes.”

Picture courtesy of Esther Johnson/The Hull Story