R.N.L.I. "Fan Site" in Australia

The RNLI is the UK charity that saves lives at sea


Welcome to our website, created by an ex-lifeboatman from the UK, now
living in Australia since the mid 1960's,
describing the UK Life-Boat scene as it was in the 1950's

unknown source birthday greetings card from the 1960's

The picture above is from a birthday card of the 1960's, and there is nothing to say who the artist was.

The site's purpose is to provide a point of reference for individuals or those in groups to whom the webmaster has talked
in "after-dinner" or daytime scenarii (scenarios), for them to revisit photos or movies presented, or topics discussed

RNLI calendar image of the Margate Life-Boat 'North Foreland' from the mid 1950's

Here is a link to a pdf about the Civil Service Life-Boat Fund of recent times, which due to considerable changes in the structure of the British Civil Service, has also changed its name. And several paragraphs below we can see a view of North Foreland, the physical feature at the eastern end of the Thames estuary's southern coast.

Radio Room clock's face courtesy Wikipediaand another as the North Foreland was for many years also the home of not just the lighthouse but also the coastal radio station which continually advised mariners of weather conditions, traffic lists, navigational hazards and emergencies. with regular broadcasts at three minutes past the hour.

Why 3 minutes past the hour and half hour?

Looking at the clock face on the left, you will notice two three-minute-long green colured segments at the top and the bottom, which are periods during which no "voice" (speech) or Radio-telephone (R/T) traffic is passed.

The reasoning is simple. A vessel in distress may well have no auxiliary power to keep its batteries charged up, and low batteries can mean considerably lower power than usual to send out signals for help. Equally, a vessel in distress may well have lost a mast or part of the antenna system which can cause inefficient radiation of energy, resluting in a weaker received signal. And finally the ability to hear a shore station from a vessel, or to be heard by a shore station, depends upon what are called "isotropic" conditions which will vary on time of day, time of year, sunspots... a whole raft of different things.

The red segments at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past each hour have been abandoned for some years since firstly the "auto-alarm" system was set up to replace morse code (Wireless Telegraphy or W/T), and finally global satellite communications, a whizzbang new technology concept which supposedly works better. Not all share this view.

If you click here, you can see what the lowest grade of maritime radio operator's "ticket" used to look like. Much smaller than a regular A4-sized certificate designed for framing, this is sealed in a plastic pouch designed to be carried in a shirt pocket. The certificate had its name changed in the 1980's and the design is altogether different now.

When I sat for my 3CCOCP back in 1972, the practical and morse tests, and viva-voce (question and answer one-on-one with the examiner (who was the District Radio Inspector) was conducted in the radio room of the recently launched MV "Clutha Capricorn" (callsign VMCC) which was the largest vessel to ever be built in the Whyalla shipyards.

We could only launch her under specific weather conditions (calm seas, zero wind, and high water springs) and we needed six tugs (three each end) to turn her after launching - as she was only a couple of metres short of the mminimum width of the basin!

Would I have liked to work at GNF (North Foreland Radio) in the 50's? Yes, and had I done so, I might never have come to Australia which would have lost me many life experiences. But, I would not have had the theory and practical background to obtain a "First Class" Radiocommunication "ticket" which would have been a prerequisite. No sour grapes (grin)

the North Foreland, southern side, looking north from Kingsgate Bay at Broadstairs>