THE 37-feet life-boat, which is described in detail on page 91, adds one more development to an impressive list of major improvements in the design and construction of life-boats and life-saving equipment in the past six or seven years.
During this period commercial engines giving greater power and range to lifeboats began to be installed, the first life-boat to be fitted with engines of this type being the 42-feet Coverack life-boat in 1954. The development of the 42-feet life-boat was followed by that of the 47-feet boat, the first of which went to Thurso. Among the novel features of the 47-feet boat were the covered steering position and the double bottom protecting the engine room ; this type of life-boat was also fitted with commercial engines, in this case twin engines of 60 h.p. each.
In 1953 a much more powerful tractor, an adaptation of the 95 b.h.p.
Challenger III diesel crawler tractor, was introduced, and this has since been followed by a new type of metal transporting carriage which greatly facilitates the launching and rehousing of the smaller boats. In the field of communications the fitting of directionfinding equipment into the Aberdeen no. 1 life-boat in 1951 and of very high frequency radio-telephones, the first of which was installed in the Cromer no. 1 life-boat in 1956, have been among the outstanding developments. There have too been a number of improvements in the provision of first aid equipment, including a new type of survival suit, which was first introduced in 1954.
All these changes occurred during the period in which Commander T. G.
Michelmore was the Institution's Chief Inspector of Life-Boats, and of all the innovations which were made during his period of office it is possible that none will be of more lasting importance than the design of the new 37-feet life-boat.
A BUSY EARLY SUMMER The weather during the first half of the summer of 1958 was exceptionally bad : many areas experienced their wettest June for more than fifty years and during the Whitsun holiday in May the weather was cold, wet and blustery.
Not surprisingly, these conditions gave rise to a very large number of calls on life-boats. There were no fewer than 68 launches on service in May, the highest figure for the month of May in the whole history of the Institution.
The figure for June was 61, only five fewer than the record figure for June, which was reached in 1957. An analysis of the types of service rendered by lifeboats during the first six months of the year shows a marked increase in the number of launches to fishing-boats and motor vessels in comparison with 1957 and a decrease in the number of services to yachts.
LIFE-BOATS NAMED BY THE ROYAL FAMILY When H.R.H. Princess Alexandra named the new Torbay life-boat Princess Alexandra of Kent, she became the fifth member of the Royal family to name one of the Institution's life-boats since the end of the last war. H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent, as President of the Institution, has named no fewer than sixteen life-boats during this period.
These were the life-boats at Bridlington, Tynemouth, New Brighton, Margate, Plymouth, Padstow, Fraserburgh, Walton and Frinton, Southend-on-Sea, Stornoway, Tenby, Douglas, Port St.
Mary, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Arbroath and Mallaig. H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother named the new Thurso life-boat in 1956 ; H.R.H. the Princess Royal named the Redcar lifeboat in 1952 ; and H.R.H. the Duchess of Gloucester named the Ramsgate lifeboat in 1954 and the Cromarty life-boat in 1956. The consistent help given to the Life-Boat Service and the continued interest shown in it by the Royal family ever since George IV, when Prince of Wales, first gave active encouragement to Lionel Lukin in his early experiments, have been more than ever apparent in recent years. Full accounts of the naming ceremonies at Torbay and Mallaig will appear in the December number of the Life-Boat.
INSTITUTION'S BADGES The wish to have some visible sign of permanent association with the Life- Boat Service in the form of a badge to be sewn on to a blazer or coat has been frequently voiced in recent years in different parts of the country. The Institution has always resisted the introduction of any kind of uniform, for it is of the essence of the Service that it is a voluntary organization in which anyone can to some extent participate, but the Committee of Management has now decided to meet the demand for a blazer badge, since this demand clearly arises from a widespread pride in association with the Service.
Two types of badge are now available ; one is a silk embroidered badge which can be supplied for 3/6d., the other a better quality gold wire badge supplied for 25/-. The badges show the Institution's flag in miniature and can be bought by regular members of lifeboat crews and helpers as certified by honorary secretaries of station branches; by officers and committee members of all branches ; and by members of the Committee of Management and of the Institution's staff..