Pic: Tony Roddam

London lifeboat crews were called out over 700 times last year and rescued 372 people from the Thames.

Twenty five of the rescues were classed as lives saved in which people are likely to have died without the intervention of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The charity’s annual statistics just released reveal Tower lifeboat station by Waterloo Bridge was the busiest in the UK and Ireland. Its crews were called out 492 times, rescued 128 people and saved 19 lives.

Tower, Chiswick and Teddington stations combined were called out 733 times. Fewer than 10% of incidents involved commercial vessels.

Peter Dawes, Regional Operations Manager for the RNLI, said: “To think that 25 people would have died last year in London if it weren’t for the bravery of our lifeboat crews is a sobering thought, but one we are immensely proud of.

"As long as people are in distress, the RNLI will be there to help. As a charity we rely on donations from the public so [the rescue] of those 372 people would not have been possible without the dedication of our fundraisers and the generosity of our extended family of supporters.”

Mr Dawes added: ‘Each year there are around 6.5 million passenger journeys taken on the River Thames, which averages out to about 17,800 a day. The Mayor of London is looking to increase this to 12 million passenger journeys a year by 2020 and there are also plans for further development along the river, bringing more people closer to water. All this will make the RNLI’s presence even more important."


Among the notable rescues were:

  • Tower lifeboat Rescued 13 people from a Dunkirk Little Ship rapidly taking on water. The boat was in danger of sinking but was kept afloat thanks to pumps provided by the RNLI. See the full story and video here.

  • Chiswick lifeboat towed a boat with 122 passengers on board to safety after its propeller snagged and it became stuck on the mud near Kew pier. Read the full story here
  • Tower lifeboat crew plucked four people to safety from a motorboat just seconds before it sank south of the Millennium Bridge. See the full story and video here

    Teddington lifeboat pulled two men out of the river whose boat had capsized. They had a lucky escape after it was discovered one of the men’s shirts had become wrapped around the stricken vessel’s propeller.

Story dated Jan 28th 2014


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