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The Historic Ryder Lifeboat

Ryder lifeboat restored, Polperro 1999
Ryder lifeboat restored, Polperro 1999

2002 was the centenary year of the historic Looe lifeboat Ryder. Built at the Thames Ironworks, Bow Creek , London, she was accepted into service at Looe on 25th May 1902. She was dedicated at a ceremony in Looe on the 26th June by Lady Trelawney, who at the same time presented medals for bravery from the French government to the lifeboat crew for their rescue of 19 crew from the French ship Gipsy, the previous December in the Boys Own No.1, Ryder's predecessor. The Ryder served as the station boat at Looe until the end of July, 1930, when the station closed, during which time she was launched on service 12 times, saving 37 lives.

The Ryder is one of only three fully restored pulling and sailing lifeboats left in the country and can be seen afloat in Polperro harbour near the Heritage Museum from May until September each year. As part of this year's celebrations, she will be in Looe on June 9th, for the Great Raft Race, and then will be centre piece for the Festival of The Sea, 21st - 23rd June. It is also intended to enter her in the Great Thames River Race, on September 7th. The finish of the race is at Greenwich, only a short distance from Bow Creek, where she was built. (In 1900 the Thames Ironworks F.C. turned professional, calling themselves West Ham United F.C.; their nickname 'the Hammers' and their badge depicting crossed riveting hammers reflects this association).

There is a gap of some twenty years in the Ryder's history between 1932 and the early 1950s. The Ryder Trustees would very much like to hear from anyone with any information about her during this period.

In July 1930 the lifeboat station in Looe closed and the boat and its gear were sold "out of service". Ryder was bought for £65, by Harold Taylor, who was a cabinet maker of 50 - 54 Rea Street, Birmingham. He and his wife, Florence Annie, are listed as resident at 84 Brandwood Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, in the 1930/31 electoral role. However, in 1931/32 electoral role only his wife is listed, so it is probable that Mr Taylor had died. We have two dated photographs of the boat still on moorings in Looe in 1932, which would back up the theory that Mr Taylor died before the boat was taken from Looe. We are certain that the Ryder was professionally converted to a motor cruiser and renamed "Halmay 3 ", but when and where we do not know. We are led to believe that she might have been based on the south coast somewhere, possibly in the Southampton area. She then re-appears in use as a house boat in the early 1950's in Bristol Docks.

We have tried to trace any relatives of the Taylor's, but so far without success. Anyone able to help us fill in these missing years, please contact Tony White at Polperro Post Office, on 01503 272225.

Tony White
(To contact Tony by e-mail - click here)


edited by Jeremy Rowett Johns, Polperro Heritage Museum © 2002

Please visit our sister website, www.talland.org to learn about the most heroic of the Ryder lifeboat's rescues - that of the French trawler "Marguerite" - click here

The Ryder lifeboat and its crew recently played the part of the 1907 Lizard Lifeboat "Admiral Sir George Back" and crew in the 2007 RNLI film reconstruction of the Suevic Rescue "And Every Life Was Saved", the largest number of lives saved from one ship in the history of the RNLI. Photos and story are on the new Ryder Lifeboat website which has many recent photos of the Ryder lifeboat and its modern-day crew - click here to visit

Click on image to see larger version
Polperro stickers - clickfor larger versionNEW! Help the Ryder historic lifeboat (and Polperro): You can now buy self-adhesive envelope stickers featuring 4 different quality photos of Polperro with slogan (e.g. "Enchanting Polperro"). One of the photos features the Ryder lifeboat in Polperro harbour.
    These stickers are ideal for putting on the envelopes for your personal snail mail, birthday and christmas cards etc - spread the word about the Ryder and what a great place Polperro is. Each sheet of 20 stickers (5 of each type) costs £1 - please send a large self-addressed and stamped envelope (at least 9" x 6"). Buy 5 sheets and get free postage - buy 10 and get an extra sheet free (postage payable)-buy 20 and get two free sheets & free postage! Click for large photos

   Send your cheque or postal order (made out to Project Ryder) to Tony White, Project Ryder, The Post Office, Polperro, PL13 2QR. All the proceeds will go to help pay for the maintenance of the historic Ryder Lifeboat.

Latest update: 15 April 2007

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