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Lifeboats

Groomsport had a Lifeboat station form 1858 to 1920. It was only the second Lifeboat station in the whole province of Ulster. During the 62 years, there were four lifeboats based in the village:
1858 – 1867 The name of this lifeboat has been lost to history
1867 – 1885 Florence
1885 – 1901 George Pooley
1901 – 1920 Chapman
The lifeboats performed 45 rescues, saving 87 lives. All the lifeboats were “pull and sail” and had to be rowed by the crew who were all local fishermen. The longest serving crew members included John Waterson (1840-1922) and his brother Henry Waterson (1861-1929). John served the life boat as crew member and, later, as head launcher and winchman for 57 years while Henry served for 42 years including 28 years as coxswain. 
Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at the following:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdfhttps://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Services-of-the-Life-Boats-v2a.pdf
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Watersons-version-2.pdf

Possible image of Groomsport’s first lifeboats

This image shows a 6-oared lifeboat on its transporting carriage. Groomsport’s first lifeboat had 6 oars.

0032 Copyright: not known.

Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

The Chapman on the slipway

The Chapman is sitting on its carriage at the top of the concrete slipway in front of the Boathouse that was installed in 1901. The Museum’s catalogue notes that the woman pictured was wearing “early 20th century clothes”.

0033 North Down Museum.

Copyright: Ards and North Down Borough Council
Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

The Chapman in Lytham Lifeboat Museum, Lancashire

The Chapman was Groomsport’s last lifeboat. After 1920 it served in the RNLI reserve fleet, was the lifeboat on Hilbre Island, off Hoylake in Cheshire and later became a pleasure boat and a pilot boat. It was bought by John Parr in 1998 and restored to its
original condition.

0034 Photograph: John Parr. Reproduced with permission

Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

Coxswain Henry Waterson and the George Pooley

Henry Waterson (1861-1929) was coxswain of the lifeboat from 1888 until he retired in 1916. Above the Boathouse door can be seen the two decorative panels which were installed to mark the 60th anniversary of the RNLI in 1884.

0038 Origin of photograph unknown. https://www.portaferrylifeboat.com/video/video.htm 

Credits Dereck McCready.

Find out more about the Waterson family at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Watersons-version-2.pdf

Groomsport Lifeboat crew, 1900

The crew are standing outside the Boathouse wearing their cork lifejackets.

Included are William Orr, Bob Waterson, Tom Waterson, “Jonty” Waterson, Robert Waterson, Danny Orr, John Waterson snr., Henry Waterson and James Tosh snr.

0035 Photograph supplied by Roberta Waterson Fraser and reproduced with permission.

Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

Groomsport's Lifeboat crew and the Chapman, 1903

This photograph of the Chapman and the crew may have been taken on “Lifeboat Day” in Bangor on 14th July 1903.

0036 Photograph supplied by Roberta Waterson Fraser and reproduced with permission.

Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

Groomsport Lifeboat crew and children c.1905

The crew and the children are at the door of the Boathouse, in front of the Chapman.

0037 Photograph supplied by Roberta Waterson Fraser and reproduced with permission.

Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

Groomsport Boathouse, 2023

Groomsport Boathouse, which was built in 1858 was designed by the well-known architect, Sir Charles Lanyon. It is now a community hall, owned by Ards and North Down Council. The Council’s additions to the building in the 1970s have somewhat spoiled the original simple rectangular structure.

0031 Photograph: Amanda McWhinney

Find out more about Groomsport’s Lifeboats at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Lifeboats-v3b.pdf

1897 rescue from Bangor, 1 of 5. The George Pooley is launched from Neill’s Pier, Bangor

Prevented by strong northerly winds from launching from Groomsport, the George Pooley was brought on its carriage to Neill’s Pier in Bangor to launch to aid the Harp and the Hollyhow, both of which were in distress.
0039 The Savage Collection, North Down Museum. Copyright: Ards and North Down Council.

Find out more about these rescues at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/George-Pooley-1897.pdf

1897 rescue from Bangor, 2 of 5. The George Pooley at Neill’s Pier

After the launch, the Lifeboat prepares to set out to sea
0040 The Savage Collection, North Down Museum.
Copyright: Ards and North Down Council.

Find out more about these rescues at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/George-Pooley-1897.pdf

1897 rescue from Bangor, 3 of 5. The George Pooley leaves Bangor harbour

The Lifeboat sets out to sea to assist the ships in distress.
0041 North Down Museum. Copyright: Ards and North Down Council.

Find out more about these rescues at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/George-Pooley-1897.pdf

1897 rescue from Bangor, 4 of 5. The George Pooley saving those who were on the Hollyhow

This photograph shows the George Pooley alongside the Hollyhow. Eight persons were rescued – the master, his wife and three young children, and the crew of three men.

0042 The Savage Collection. North Down Museum.

Copyright: Ards and North Down Council.

Find out more about these rescues at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/George-Pooley-1897.pdf

1897 rescue from Bangor, 5 of 5. The George Pooley at Ballyholme Yacht Club

The George Pooley landed the 12 people it had rescued at Ballyholme Yacht Club – 8 from the Hollyhow and 4 from the Harp.

0043 North Down Museum. Copyright: Ards and North Down Council.

Find out more about these rescues at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/George-Pooley-1897.pdf