Bembridge Lifeboat Station, Isle of Wight
Bembridge is a village and civil parish located on the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight. It had a population of 3,848 according to the 2001 census of the United Kingdom, leading to the implausible claim by some residents that Bembridge is the largest village in England. Bembridge is home to many of the Island’s wealthiest residents. The population had reduced to 3,688 at the 2011 Census.
Bembridge sits at the extreme eastern point of the Isle of Wight. Prior to land reclamation the area of Bembridge and Yaverland was almost an island, separated from the remainder of the Isle of Wight by Brading Haven. On the Joan Blaeu map of 1665, Bembridge is shown as Binbridge Iſle, nearly separated from the rest of Wight by River Yar.
Prior to the Victorian era Bembridge was a collection of wooden huts and farmhouses, which only consolidated into a true village with the building of the church in 1827 (later rebuilt in 1846).
The RNLI station is particularly significant, as it extends into the sea to the east of the village. Here lies the notorious “Bembridge Ledge”, a large, rocky outcrop which poses a major threat to passing boats. Although it is private sailing yachts which are most at risk, a wide variety of boats commonly run aground here, especially in the often stormy weather conditions which affect the Solent during winter months. A former Bembridge lifeboat, the RNLB Jesse Lumb (ON 822), is part of the National Historic Fleet, and exhibited at Imperial War Museum Duxford.
The current offshore boathouse was completed in Autumn 2010 by BAM Nuttall and Ecochoice and houses a new Tamar class boat, the ‘Alfred Albert Williams’. A complete new concrete walkway was built, and the new station is made completely of naturally durable timber. The Inshore lifeboat station was rebuilt in 2014, and the interior of the offshore boathouse is accessible to visitors during set days when the station isn’t on alert. The original Victorian boathouse also survives, and is currently used as the station’s shop.