Previous names

  • 1978 - 1998 La Rochelle
Certificate no 1882
Status Registered


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Lifeboat
Location Hartlepool
Vessel type Watson 46 Class Lifeboat
Current use Ongoing conservation
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder White, J Samuel & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Built in 1938
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.75 feet (3.89 m)
Length: Overall
46.00 feet (14.03 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
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.


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

Key dates

  • 1939

    Watson class motor lifeboat built by J. Samuel White and Co. Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight

  • 3.4.1940

    Assisted rescue ditched RAF spitfire pilot

  • 21.7.1940

    Dedicated by HRH Princess Royal

  • 26.1.1941

    Rescue crew SS Hawkswood, Awarded RNLI Gold Medal 

  • 1939-1968

    Served as Hartlepool lifeboat

  • 1968-1976

    Served as reserve lifeboat

  • 29.4.2000

    Relocated from Barry Island to Hartlepool. Start of restoration 

  • 1.2.2001

    Entered into Register NRHS 

  • 23.9.2004

    Relaunched after restoration 

  • 11.10.2004

    Re-dedicated by present Princess Royal


  • 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

  • June 2009

    A Sustainability Grant of £600 for a survey was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

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