The Princess Royal

Watson 46 built 1938 by White, J Samuel & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Designated ensign Designated house flag



Service Vessel


Watson 46


Ongoing conservation














To be confirmed

12.75 feet (3.89 metres)

46.00 feet (14.03 metres)

To be confirmed



THE PRINCESS ROYAL served as the Hartlepool lifeboat from 1939 until 28 April 1968. She arrived there new from the makers and was christened by Princess Alice in 1941. She was launched 152 times, saving ninety-four lives. In 1939, she was involved in rescuing the pilot of the first Spitfire to be shot down off the North-East coast, near Redcar. Again, in 1942, five naval men were rescued off the coast of Hartlepool, for which the coxswain was awarded a gold medal. The lifeboat was also awarded a gold medal and was one of only ten boats to receive a medal in 175 years of lifeboat history. The mechanic received a silver medal and the crew bronze medals. After years of service, THE PRINCESS ROYAL was sold into private ownership into the Osbourne family who kept her for 20 years where she was re-named LA ROCHELLE. Following Mr Osbourn'es death the lifeboat was returned to Hartlepool from Wales and passed by the Osbourne family to the current owners for £1. A team of volunteers subsequently spent nearly many years restoring her and she is now to form a floating museum at Hartlepool Marina.

Jonathan Ward, The Hartlepool Mail Ferry plan for Former Lifeboat (2000)

Previous names

  1. 1978 – 1998La Rochelle

Key dates

  1. 1939 Watson class motor lifeboat built by J. Samuel White and Co. Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
  2. 3.4.1940 Assisted rescue ditched RAF spitfire pilot
  3. 21.7.1940 Dedicated by HRH Princess Royal
  4. 26.1.1941 Rescue crew SS Hawkswood, Awarded RNLI Gold Medal 
  5. 1939-1968 Served as Hartlepool lifeboat
  6. 1968-1976 Served as reserve lifeboat
  7. 29.4.2000 Relocated from Barry Island to Hartlepool. Start of restoration 
  8. 1.2.2001 Entered into Register NRHS 
  9. 23.9.2004 Relaunched after restoration 
  10. 11.10.2004 Re-dedicated by present Princess Royal


  1. 2000 The Hartlepool Mail Ferry plan for Former Lifeboat - Jonathan Ward


  1. June 2009 A Sustainability Grant of £600 for a survey was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships
  2. June 2012 A Sustainability grant of £500 for training was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships. Source: National Historic Ships UK
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a rope, chain or iron collar which attaches the yard to the mast but which allows vertical movement