One of the early crews at Poole Lifeboat Station
One of the early volunteer crews of Poole Lifeboat Station (click image to enlarge)

Past Crew at Poole

The RNLI first established a lifeboat station at Poole in 1865, and has been providing a life saving service for Poole Harbour and surrounding waters ever since. Please follow the links below to read about some of the volunteer crew members who have served in Poole over the past 140 years.

Poole's first crew of 1865

  • Coxswain Richard Stokes
  • Second Coxswain Jim Matthews
  • Assistant Coxswain Thomas Hart
  • John Oates
  • John 'Fudgy' Brown
  • Bobbie Blundell
  • Thomas 'Cairo' Matthews
  • Bill Brown
  • Henry 'Parker' Matthews
  • Francis (Frank) Wills
  • Jim 'Slutter' Brown
  • Dick Hughes
  • Tom 'Happy' Cartridge
  • Tom Trigger
  • Thomas Wills Junior
  • James Tilsed
  • John Condon
  • John Wills
  • John Holloway
  • John Vickery

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Chronological tables of crew members by role

Volunteer and full-time coxswains

Name From To
Richard Sutton Stokes 1865 1882
John Hughes March 1882 September 1899
Richard Wills August 1899 July 1922
John Hayes August 1922 September 1926
Samuel Wills October 1926 March 1931
Richard Henry Hayes March 1931 June 1946
Francis William Hayes July 1946 June 1948
Albert Arthur Brown July 1948 December 1968
Reginald Brown December 1968 February 1975
Frank Patrick Ide (full-time Coxswain/Mechanic) July 1974 September 1989
Steven Trevor Vince (volunteer Coxswain) September 1989
Steven Trevor Vince (full-time Coxswain/Mechanic) April 1990 April 1998
Jonathan Clark October 1998 To date To date

Volunteer second coxswains

Name From To
Richard Wills September 1865 August 1899
John Stickland August 1899 April 1902
John Hayes April 1902 August 1922
Samuel Wills August 1922 October 1926
Henry Samuel Redmond October 1926 March 1931
Thomas James Wills March 1931 June 1940
Francis William Hayes June 1940 June 1946
Albert Arthur Brown June 1946 June 1948
Reginald Brown July 1948 December 1968
Richard Wills December 1968 September 1973
Francis William George Hayes October 1973 March 1975
George Buckby November 1974 March 1975
John Anthony Clark March 1975 July 1990
John Buckby July 1990 August 1998
Mark Cole September 1998 March 2006
Andrew Elton April 2006 February 2009
Paul Singleton February 2009 October 2013
Andrew Elton November 2013 To date To date

Full-time mechanics

Name From To
Frank John Hayes June 1962 October 1974
Frank Patrick Ide (Coxswain/Mechanic) July 1974 September 1989
Robert George Ide August 1989 March 1990
Steven Trevor Vince(Coxswain/Mechanic) April 1990 April 1998
Andrew Elton September 1998 April 2004
James Haw May 2004 March 2005
Paul Taylor September 2005 To date To date


Name From To
John Cockridge Not known 1891 August 1899
George Matthews August 1899 January 1914
Samuel Wills February 1914 August 1922
Thomas James Wills August 1922 March 1931
James Charles Matthews March 1931 June 1940
Fred Brown June 1940 July 1946
Albert Brown April 1941 October 1945
Richard Wills July 1948 Not known Not known

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Biographies of past crew members

First Coxswain Richard Sutton Stokes, 1865–82

First Coxswain Richard Stokes
  • Richard Stokes lived in a cottage at Sandbanks near Harvey's tea room
  • His job was to look after the North Haven light, a duty which he carried out faithfully for 37 years
  • First coxswain in 1865; retired in March 1882 when the boathouse moved to the Quay. His duties at Sandbanks probably precluded his remaining an officer of the lifeboat now it had moved.
  • On 11 March 1886, in bitter weather, he went to see to the light and did not return. His son found him lying dead as he had fallen on his way to his duty.
  • His body was placed in a coastguard galley and taken to the churchyard of St Mary's on Brownsea Island where he was buried.

Coxswain John Jackson Hughes, 1882–99

  • Died in 1908
  • The epitaph on his tombstone bears the words 'Lifeboatmen never turn back'

Crew Member James Hughes

  • On 9 October 1884, James Hughes, a crew member at Poole Lifeboat Station, tragically died when he fell under the launching carriage during a lifeboat exercise
  • James is one of over 85 in the RNLI's South division and one of a total of 778 people commemorated on the RNLI memorial from all corners of the UK and RoI

Coxswain Richard Wills of City Masonic Club, 1899–1922

  • Served on the lifeboat crew for 37 years
  • He was so well liked by the crew that when he wanted to retire they would not let him
  • Perhaps the most outstanding personality of all the Poole coxswains
  • Man of fearless character and a splendid seaman
  • Four of his sons were also crew members
  • He was buried at St Mary's Church, Longfleet, Poole, and the citation on his tombstone read: 'Richard James Wills – Coxswain of Poole lifeboat – July 8 1922 – 71 years'

Coxswain John Hayes, 1922–26

Coxswain Samuel Thomas Wills, 1926–31

Coxswain Richard Henry Hayes, 1931–46

Coxswain Francis William Hayes, 1946–48

Second Coxswain Bill Hayes, 1973–75

  • Francis William George Hayes joined the crew in 1939
  • Age 53 in 1974
  • Coxswain of Poole Pilot cutters
  • Latter part of the War, served in the Merchant Navy
  • Was a full-time fisherman
  • His father, Frank Hayes, was coxswain
  • His two brothers were crew members
  • Attendance at VE Day opening ceremony, 6 May 1995

Reg Brown Frank and Bill Hayes

Reg Brown, Frank Hayes and Bill Hayes receiving Certificates of Service, along with George Buckby and (William) Bill Wills

Mechanic Frank Hayes (brother of Bill Hayes above)

  • Joined crew at 16
  • 51 (in 1974)
  • Mechanic – full-time
  • Lived in Lagland Street
  • Served in Merchant Navy
  • Brought up with the sea and fishing

Second Mechanic Bill Wills

Second Mechanic Bill Wills
  • Worked at South Coast Yacht Services
  • Lived in Stanley Road
  • Crew member for 23 years (in 1974)
  • Father was second coxswain
  • Four uncles also served on Poole lifeboat

Coxswain Albert Arthur Brown

  • Not related to Signalman Arthur Brown
  • Appointed Second Coxswain, 30 April 1946
  • Appointed Coxswain, 1 July 1948
  • Retired, 18 December 1948

Coxswain Reginald Brown, 1974

Coxswain Reginald Brown
  • Took over the appointment of coxswain after the death of his brother Arthur in January 1973
  • Age 53 in 1974
  • He and his brother followed in the footsteps of their father, Albert Brown
  • Born and lived in Green Road

Family members of Brown, Wills, Hayes and Matthews served as lifeboat crew for 109 years from the establishment of the lifeboat station at Poole in 1865 until 1974.

Second Coxswain George Buckby (John Buckby's father)

  • 1946–75
  • Retired at age of 50
  • Emergency mechanic (in 1974)
  • Lived in Stanley Road
  • His wife's father was Arthur Brown, the lifeboat's last signalman
  • Merchant Navy
  • 'Net' man catching salmon with the Wareham River Authority

Signalman Arthur Brown (John Buckby's step grandfather)

  • 1933–63
  • Lifeboat's last signalman
  • Served on lifeboat for 30 years
  • Retired at age of 69
  • Died the same month as Poole lifeboat station's 100th anniversary
  • John Buckby's grandfather was a sign writer – painted/wrote most of the service boards
  • Albert Brown – Coxswain – not related

Second Coxswain John Buckby

  • Joined 4 June 1965
  • 1965–98
  • Retired at age of 51
  • Appointed emergency mechanic, 27 October 1989
  • Royal Garden Party, 17 July 1997

Andrew Hawkes

Andrew Hawkes
  • Joined 28 July 1965
  • His father was DLA
  • Andrew's grandfather was in the Rotary and part of the boat committee
  • Fundraising AGM @ Dolphin Hotel (top of High Street) for Ladies Lifeboat Guild. The crew didn't mix with the guild at the time but Andrew went to the meeting and was told off!
  • Payment for shouts – 10 shillings a call
  • Andrew wrote to HQ (in London) when they hadn't been paid for a long time. It turned out that the money had been given to the Mechanic to hand out to the crew at the pub (the Gas Tavern); however, Andrew hadn't gone to the pub so his pay had been used as drinking money!

Second Coxswain/Assistant Mechanic John Clark

  • Diver with Max Marine
  • Joined in 1971
  • Appointed second coxswain/assistant mechanic on 15 March 1975
  • Retired, 22 July 1990
  • Family of seafarers (his father served on a fire boat during the War)
  • John at sea when 16 (Merchant Navy)

Jim Kellaway

  • Member of Bournemouth Inshore Lifeboat crew, 12 May 1965–31 October 1972
  • Deputy Launching Authority, November 1988–November 1995

Coxswain Frank Ide

  • 1 July 1974 – appointment as Coxswain of Poole Lifeboat Station (following appointment as Second Coxswain/mechanic at Dover Lifeboat Station)
  • Wage of 26.85 per week!
  • Nickname of Winkle
  • Retired at 58 on 10 September 1989
  • Entry in his diary on his retirement day: 'My thanks to all hands for their work, support and enthusiasm during my 15 years with the Poole life-boat. I hope the station will go on in the future in a happy and smooth manner, and I wish everyone all the best, and safe and successful operations.'
  • Spent 27 years as lifeboatman
  • 15 years at Poole
  • Became interested in lifeboats as a young lad at Hastings
  • Lifeboat service at Dover and Tynemouth
  • Leading stoker in the Navy
  • Served in the Army in Korea
  • Spell of sea trawling
  • Long service badge for Coxswain/Mechanic Frank Ide June, 1983
  • Buckingham Palace Garden party, 12 July 1984

Coxswain/Mechanic Steve Vince

  • Appointment on ILB crew, December 1981
  • Appointed as coxswain, 10 September 1989
  • Appointed full-time Coxswain/Mechanic, 23 April 1990
  • Retired, April 1998
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