WILLIAM RILEY OF BIRMINGHAM was based at Whitby lifeboat station from 1909 to 1931 and was involved in the ROHILLA disaster in 1914. As launching was impossible from Whitby harbour, she was hauled several miles from her station and lowered down a 300 foot cliff. Despite the heroic efforts of her crew to row the boat, she could not reach ROHILLA. The rescue of the survivors was made by the motor-powered Tynemouth boat. It was the 'failure' of oar power on this occasion that finally convinced the RNLI and their crews to adopt mechanical power. She was converted to a cabin cruiser in 1931 and discovered by Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust, lying derelict in Barnstaple in 2005. She was restored to 1914 condition with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, being relaunched in 2008.
This vessel is a survivor from the First World War. You can read more about her wartime history by visiting our First World War: Britain's Surviving Vessels website www.ww1britainssurvivingvessels.org.uk.
Built by Thames Iron Works, London for use as Upgang, Whitby, lifeboat
Involvement in ROHILLA disaster led to change in policy regarding pulling and sailing lifeboats
Became Number 2 lifeboat at main Whitby lifeboat station
Decommissioned and moved into private ownership following conversion to cabin cruiser
Discovered by Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust lying derelict in Barnstaple
Restored to 1914 condition with help of Heritage Lottery Fund grant and relaunched
Vessel selected for Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £44,800 for restoration work
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