History of “Jesse Lumb”

Jesse Lumb Watson Class Lifeboat built 1939 by J Samuel White & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight.


Jesse Lumb is a 46-ft Watson-class lifeboat constructed from mahogany with a diagonally planked double skin. She was powered by two diesel engines with twin propellers, and displaced 20.5 tons. Jesse Lumb was named in honour of the owner of Folly Hall Mill in HUDDERSFIELD, and her construction funded by a £9,000 bequest by Annie Lumb, Jesse Lumb’s sister. The lifeboat was named on 21 July 1939.

Just before the outbreak of World War II, the RNLI placed a larger and more powerful lifeboat on station at Bembridge. Built in 1939 by J S White, JESSE LUMB was a 46ft Watson fitted with twin Ferry VE4 40hp diesels
The boat was named “JESSE LUMB” by Miss A.L. Lumb in memory of her brother on 21 July 1939.
Her 40 horsepower diesel engines were designed to work underwater and gave her a top speed of 8.5knots.

During the war she saved some 138 persons, many during wartime conditions. In 1940, the RNLI Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Harry J Gawn for rescuing the crew of the Hired Anti Submarine Trawler KINGSTON CAIRNGORM that was flooding in a blizzard on Chichester Bar on the night of 29/30 January 1940.In an operation involving several approaches, her crew of 21 was taken of and landed at Portsmouth. The lifeboat had been at sea for 14 hours with the Coxswain at the wheel the whole time and at the end of the service the lifeboat’s deck was covered in ice.

On the morning of 5 December 1947, the trawler ERRAID, which was on tow from Portsmouth to Plymouth, broke adrift and was being driven ashore. The Bembridge lifeboat JESSE LUMB eventually succeeded in taking off the crew of 18 when the vessel was within a few hundred yards of the shore.

In 1968 she also stood by the submarine HMS ALLIANCE when it stranded on Bembridge Ledge.

JESSE LUMB’s service at Bembridge ended in 1970, but she spent many years in the relief fleet and, as the last wartime lifeboat of this type in service, she was moved to Duxford for display in 1980.
A well preserved Watson Class lifeboat which served through WWII. Although modified throughout her service life from 1939 to 1970 she is a good example of the way in which a lifeboat of the period was equipped.
JESSE LUMB was used in the Bronze Medal rescue carried out by her coxswain Harry J Gawn in 1940.
A typical Watson of the period having a shape which many people associate with traditional lifeboats.
Key dates
1939 Built by J. Samuel White of Cowes as a Watson Class lifeboat
1970 Moved to the Relief Fleet of the RNLI
1980 Acquired by the Imperial War Museum and moved to the Duxford site
2016 Jesse Lumb lifeboat collected from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and transported to Cowes Medina Yard (returning home as built at J Samuel Whites of Cowes in 1939)
2017 The Classic Boat Museum Isle Of Wight are in the process of moving to new premises so at this moment in time is closed for viewing.

Jesse Lumb Going home to the Isle of Wight.