Registration number 1576
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Lifeboat
Location Barrow-in-Furness
Vessel type Watson Class Lifeboat
Current use Museum based
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Web address


Builder White, J Samuel & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Built in 1951
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 2
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.90 feet (3.93m)
4.40 feet (1.34m)
Length: Overall
46.90 feet (14.30m)


HERBERT LEIGH was the longest serving lifeboat at the Barrow station from 1951 up to the time of her replacement in 1982. In 30 years of service she was launched 136 times and saved 71 lives. She was donated to the RNLI by the Chairman of Leigh’s Paints, Herbert Leigh. He was a Lancastrian who started a marine paint business after going on a round the world cruise in 1919 and seeing sailors mixing up their own paint. The lifeboat was built at the East Cowes Yard of JS White and Co. Ltd and cost £25,855 to build. Her decks are built from mahogany and she was one of the most modern lifeboats in the RNLI on completion, needing a crew of 8 to man her. HERBERT LEIGH was launched only hours after arriving on station as the tanker MERRIMAC reported that there was a sick man onboard. In 1952, shortly after midnight on July 13, a young girl near Bootle told her father that she could see a small boat aground. Her father checked and immediately phoned the coastguard. HERBERT LEIGH was launched at 12.50 a.m. in rough seas. By the light of the lifeboat's powerful searchlight the lifeboat men spotted the vessel at 4.20 a.m. and found a yacht called FAITHFUL. With great skill and considerable courage Coxswain Moore took the lifeboat towards the yacht and on the third attempt succeeded in the very heavy surf. One man from FAITHFUL jumped aboard and the other was also rescued. FAITHFUL couldn't be towed because of the very poor conditions. For his skill and courage Coxswain Roland Moore was awarded the R.N.L.I.'s Thanks on Vellum. In 1982 HERBERT LEIGH ended her service in Barrow and went into storage as a reserve lifeboat by the R.N.L.I. at the shipyard of R. McAllister & Son in Dumbarton. She was formally handed over by the R.N.L.I at a ceremony at the BNFL Terminal at Ramsden Dock on arrival from Dumbarton. In 1990, she was moved to the Dock Museum and has never seen seawater since. She was donated to the museum by Brian Leigh-Bramwell, of Leigh’s paints (and Herbert Leigh’s great-nephew) at a cost of £18,000. Mr Leigh-Bramwell’s mother (Helen Leigh-Bramwell) named the boat in a ceremony in Buccleuch Dock in 1952. In 2005, funding was secured from the Furness Maritime Trust and from Barrow Borough Council in order to carry out essential conservation work. Almost £30,000 was spent and, the following year, HERBERT LEIGH was moved to the front of the museum site, behind the wavy wall.

As of April 2019 it was reported that Barrow-on-Furness Dock Museum has commissioned the refurbishment of the vessel.

Key dates

  • 1951

    Vessel built by James Samuel White & Co, Cowes, Isle of Wight

  • 1952

    First launch operation rescuing crew from FAITHFUL, a yacht that was in trouble near Bootle, Merseyside

  • 1982

    Retired from service after being launched 136 times and saving 71 lives.  Vessel was stored as a reserve lifeboat by the RNLI shipyard R McAllister & Son, Dumbarton

  • 1990

     Donated and moved to The Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness

  • 2006

    Following restoration, vessel was moved to display at the front of the Museum site


Classic Boat: RNLB Herbert Leigh gets spruce-up, May 2019

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