Following a visit to Hartlepool today we discovered Filey Lifeboat 37-04, Robert & Dorothy Hardcastle, in a boat yard. She looked in pretty good condition from the outside, if a little faded.Research reveals that 37-04 is a 37′ Oakley class lifeboat that served at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station in Filey between 1968 and 1991, launched 180 times within that period and saved 22 lives.
Prior to the launch of the Oakley class of lifeboat, self-righting boats had a narrow beam, a high bow and stern (which contained air boxes) and a heavy cast iron keel to return the boat the correct way up if she were to capsize. Unfortunately, this design made the boats less stable and more likely to capsize and crews had mixed feelings as to whether a more stable non-righting boats was preferable to a less stable self-righting boat.
Oakley, the class’ designer, came up with a broader beamed boat which used water ballast, instead of air boxes to right the capsized vessel, and it proved to be a great success with twenty six boats being built.