Previous names

  • Manchester & District XXX
Certificate no 723
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Lifeboat
Location Swansea
Vessel type Watson Class Lifeboat
Current use Museum based
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No
Web address


Builder Groves & Gutteridge Ltd, Cowes
Built in 1947
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.89 feet (3.93 m)
Length: Overall
46.89 feet (14.30 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



WILLIAM GAMMON was originally called the MANCHESTER AND DISTRICT XXX, being the 30th lifeboat provided by the fund. The name was changed to commemorate the courage of the coxswain who was lost together with his crew in April 1947 when the Mumbles lifeboat EDWARD PRINCE OF WALES capsized off Sker Point.

WILLIAM GAMMON is unsinkable, rather than being self-righting and this is why she was withdrawn from service. Since 1970, all RNLI lifeboats over 30ft long have been self-righting. There has also been a trend to replace post war classes such as the Watsons, Liverpools and Barnetts by more powerful lifeboats.

WILLIAM GAMMON's first service launch was 11 November 1947 when she went to the assistance of the Barnstaple ketch ENID which had run aground at Aberavon. Its most famous rescue was of the motor vessel KILO after which the lifeboat required extensive repairs to stanchions, stern and belting. KILO had caught fire when her deck cargo of sodium drums had been damaged in a hurricane and the sodium exploded on contact with water.

Other services included Christmas parcels to the crew of the Scarweather Lightship and saving horses. WILLIAM GAMMON was replaced on the Mumbles station by the PENTLAND - Civil Service 31 which was a 17 year old 47ft Watson Class boat which had been converted to self-righting. WILLIAM GAMMON could not be easily converted and entered the reserve fleet. Finally the lifeboat was stored at the RNLI headquarters in Poole and it was from there that she sailed to Swansea in 1984.<


Brouwer, Norman J, International Register of Historic Ships, Anthony Nelson, Edition 2, 1993
The Watson Class Lifeboat WILLIAM GAMMON, Swansea Maritime and Ind. Museum
Teachers Notes: The Development of Lifeboats and the Lifeboat Services, Swansea Maritime and Ind. Museum

Key dates

  • 1947

    Built by Groves & Gutteridge of Cowes and served as the Mumbles lifeboat

  • 1974

    Served as Relief Lifeboat

  • 1984

    Purchased by Swansea Council and exhibited afloat at the Industrial  & Maritime Museum

  • 2012

    Became an indoor exhibit at The Swansea Museum



Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact

More like this

Stationed in Portrush

Archived, built 1924 by White, J Samuel & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Watkin Williams - starboard side view.

Registered, built 1956 by Osbourne, William, Littlehampton


Archived, built 1951 by Osbourne, William, Littlehampton

Gramarie sailing, port side

Archived, built 1924 by White, J Samuel & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight