Life Saving Apparatus

CAPTAIN GEORGE MANBY, artilleryman and barrack master at Great Yarmouth, devised a system of getting a line to a stranded ship by means of a small mortar, and used it himself in 1808. Later he developed a method of hauling shipwrecked men ashore in a cradle or breeches buoy. The mortar was superseded by a rocket with a range of about 100 yards.

Life Saving Apparatus was installed at Happisburgh in1859. It was taken to the scene of a wreck on a 'wagon', and was either manhandled:or pulled by farm horses. For practice purposes a rocket pole was erected on the cliff top to represent the mast of a vessel.

The Rocket Brigade was disbanded in the early 1980’s.

Navigational aids have much improved, and as shipping is of greater tonnage, most vessels keep on the far side of Haisbro Sand. During the years that the Brigade was stationed at Happishurgh, twenty-two lives were saved.


C1920 The rocket pole. It was moved from time to time as the cliff eroded.


A Rocket Brigade practice during the 1939 – 45 War.


A practice session of the Rocket Brigade supervised by the Coastguard.


During a violent gale and snowstorm in 1916 the schooner Angela was driven ashore. The lifeboat could not be launched due to the state of the tide, but the Rocket Life Saving Apparatus was used to fire a line to the ship, and five exhausted men were brought ashore by breeches buoy.


When the Tautmillar was bombed and stranded in 1940, the Rocket Brigade attended. They boarded and found a lone survivor, Bruno Adler, wearing all his clothes, including pyjamas, and with towels wrapped round his head. He had been knocked unconscious and revived to find himself alone. Seven crew were killed and twelve had taken to the small boats.


The Latvian steamer Tautmillar stranded at Walcott