Image in Spring 2010
The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows ON 960
British RNLI FlagUnited Kingdom
OwnerRoyal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
BuilderWilliam Osborne, Arun Shipyard, Littlehampton, West Sussex
Official Number: ON 960
Donor: A gift of The Unity Friendly Society (The Oddfellows)
Station Sheringham
Yard numberNo:WO960
Launched14 March 1961
Christened15 June 1962 by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
In service29 years
FateDisplayed in Sheringham Museum, The Mo, from Thursday 25 March 2010
General characteristics
Class and typeOakley
Tonnage11 tons 17cwt
Displacement12 tons 1cwt
Length37 ft 0 in (11.28 m) overall
Beam11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
Installed power
  • twin Perkins P4M, 43 bhp (32 kW)Diesel engine.
  • Re-engined in 1982 with twin 52 bhp (39 kW) Thornycroft 250 2701E four cylinder Diesel engines
Propulsion2 X 23 inches (580 mm) by 15 inches (380 mm) pitch propellers in tunnels
Speed8 kn (15 km/h)
Range190 nmi (350 km)
  • Once put on Display at the Royal Show in Cambridge in 1961.
  • The lifeboat was re-hulled between 1985 and 1986 at Crescent Marine, Otterham Quay, Upchurch.

The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows (RNLI Official Number 960) was an Oakley-class lifeboat of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)[1][2] stationed at Sheringham in the English county of Norfolk[3] from 10 July 1961 until 1990 when she was replaced after 29 years service by an Atlantic 75 second generation Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) in May 1992. During the time that The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows was on station at Sheringham, she performed 127 service[1] launches, rescuing 134 lives.[2]

Design and construction

The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows was built at the yard of William Osborne at Littlehampton, West Sussex.[4] She was an Oakley class self-righting design[4] which combined great stability with the ability to self-right in the event of the lifeboat capsizing. This was achieved by a system of shifting water ballast.[4] The system worked by the lifeboat taking on one and half tons of sea water at launching in to a tank built into the base of the hull. If the lifeboat then reached a crucial point of capsize the ballast water would transfer through valves to a righting tank built into the port side.[4] If the capsize was to the starboard side of the lifeboat, the water shift started when an angle of 165° was reached.[4] This would push the boat into completing a full 360° roll. If the capsize was to the port side, the water transfer started at 110°. In this case the weight of water combined with the weight of machinery aboard the lifeboat usually managed to stop the roll and allow the lifeboat to bounce back to upright.[4]

Hull construction

The hull of The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows was constructed from African mahogany built with two skins.[4] Each skin was diagonally laid with a layer of calico laid between the skins. The outer skin was ⅜ of an inch thick with the inner skin being ¼ of an inch thick. The keel was iron and weighed 1.154 tons. The hull was divided into eleven watertight compartments. The lifeboat was 37 feet 0 inches (11.28 m) in length and 11 feet 6 inches (3.51 m) in beam and displaced 12 tons 1cwt,[4] when fully laden with crew and gear. She was fitted with twin Perkins P4M, 43 brake horsepower (32 kW) Diesel engine, which moved her over the water at 8 knots (15 km/h).[4] The wheelhouse was positioned amidships.


The lifeboat was fitted with Decca 060 radar and all she carried Pye Westminster VHF and an Ajax MF radio telephones. In addition a radio Direction Finding set was carried, which gave a magnetic bearing to a transmitting station. The electric searchlight was standard along with Pains Wessex speedlines.

Service and rescues

The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows performed a total of 127 service launches during here 29 years at Sheringham[1] becoming the longest serving Oakley class lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet.[2]


Over the period that The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows was stationed at Sheringham she had a total of five coxswains who were as follows:

Rescue of the Lucy

One notable rescue was carried out on 15 August 1961.[2] the Lucy was herself a converted ship's lifeboat and she was on her maiden voyage from Peterborough to Southwold. There was a north west wind blowing, bitterly cold and sea conditions were described as short steep sea. The Lucy sprung a leak at the stern and started to take on water rapidly. Her four crew became concerned and started to send up distress signals. The signals were spotted and The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows made what was going to be a difficult launched. Because of the conditions of the tide, haul-off rope had to be used to prevent the lifeboat from being washed broadsides onto the beach. Just as the boat left the carriage the mast holding the haul-off rope snapped and it was only by skilful handling by coxwain Henry 'Downtide' West[2] that tragedy was averted. The lifeboat found the Lucy 5 miles (8.0 km) north east of Sheringham. Three lifeboatmen were put aboard the Lucy to help transfer the boat owner's unconscious wife and young son to The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows. The owner was transferred next, while the fourth member of the crew remained on board with the lifeboatmen while a tow was attempted. In the fierce swell the tow rope snapped and the coxwain decided to evacuate the four men remaining on board. The casualties were landed at Sheringham and all made a full recovery.

The Lifeboat lands an injured crewman from the Lucy


When The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows was retired from service her place was temporally taken by the last of Sheringham's all-weather lifeboats, the Lloyds II,[1][2] built in 1966[1] and paid for by donations from members of Lloyd's of London.[1] On 18 April 1992,[2] Lloyds II left Sheringham having performed seven services while on station. In May 1992 an Atlantic 75 second generation Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) also named Manchester Unity of Oddfellows became the permanent replacement for The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows ON 960

The lifeboat displayed at Sheringham Museum

Service and rescues

RNLB Manchester Unity of Oddfellows ON 960
Date Casualty Lives saved
13 July Four crab boats, escorted boats
8 August Small Yacht, saved boat 3
15 August Converted Ships Lifeboat Lucy, saved boat 4
9 July Converted Ships Lifeboat Sea Hawk, saved boat 4
7 August Fishing vessel Sprat, saved boat 2
15 August Cabin cruiser Buccaneer, In tow of crab boat, saved boat, landed 3
1 September Crab boat White Rose, of Sheringham, gave help
20 June Speed boat Sea Sprite, saved boat 2
15 August Yacht Tablet, saved yacht
15 August Speed boat Red Barrel, landed 2
5 September Cabin Cruiser Sirius, gave help
1 July Motor vessel Pantarali of Panama, landed 2 and a body
18 April Four crab boats of Sheringham, gave help
29 January Motor cruiser Hilary Anne, saved boat 1
20 May Nine fishing boats of Sheringham, escorted
25 May Fishing boat Tania of Sheringham, saved boat 2
30 June Cabin cruiser She’s a Lady, assisted to save cruiser 3
17 August Sailing Dinghy, saved dinghy 2
9 February Motor vessel Richmond Castle, of London, landed a sick man
17 September Crab boat Cicely, of Sheringham, escorted
3 January Fishing boat Our Boys, of Sheringham, escorted
8 February Fishing boat Welcome Messenger, of Sheringham, escorted
29 April Eight fishing boats of Sheringham, stood by
3 June Fishing boats Our Boys and Mizpah of Sheringham, stood by
9 June Converted motor fishing boat Peggy, of Sheringham, saved boat 1
19 June Cabin Cruiser John Kay, saved boat 6
31 July Cabin cruiser Cylvia, gave help
16 September Yacht Sea Boots, saved 2
1 January Dudgeon Lightvessel, landed a sick man
6 April Yacht Sallie of Maldon, saved 3
24 April Dudgeon Lightvessel, landed a sick man
8 August Fishing vessel Ame of King’s Lynn, gave help
7 November Haisborough Lightvessel, landed a sick man
27 April Six motor fishing vessels, escort vessels
25 November Fishing vessel Kilsyth, landed an injured man
1 January Finnlark of Finland, landed an injured man
2 June Yacht Blue Tit, saved boat 2
4 September Barge Focena, saved boat 2
5 August Yacht Niord, gave help
25 October Dinghy, escorted boat
28 March Fishing boat Jonathan James, gave help
5 July Converted Admiralty supply vessel VIC.32, escorted vessel
8 September Motor launch Ailsa, gave help
29 January Fishing boat Mizpah, gave help
5 April Fishing boat Mizpah, escorted boat
16 April Fishing boat Harvester, Saved 2
26 August Motor cruiser Dora Lee, saved 5
8 April Fishing boats, escorted boats
9 August Cabin cruiser Cocktail II saved boat 3
11 May Fishing boats, escorted boats
24 May Fishing boats, escorted boats
10 August Motor fishing vessel Venturer, saved vessel 2
20 April Rubber Dinghy Force Four GT, saved boat 2
13 May Fishing boats, escorted boats
3 June Cargo vessel Bandick of Guernsey, landed an injured man
1 August Rafts, saved 60
3 August Catamaran Norwegian Blue, stood by
15 September Two skin divers saved 2
28 October Fishing boat Crystal Dawn, saved boat 2
25 April Fishing boat Fragrance gave help
28 May Motor fishing vessel Kathleen, Mizpah and Pegasus, gave help
28 May Fishing vessel Good Courage, escorted vessel
25 July Fishing boats, escorted boats
29 July Fishing vessel Sea Eagle, Landed 3 sick men
4 October Fishing vessel Caroline, saved 2
15 May Motor yacht Kitaja, craft brought in–gave help
26 June Fishing vessel Justifier, craft brought in-gave help
19 August Sailboard, saved board 1
2 September Fishing vessel Liberty, craft brought in-gave help
15 February RoRo cargo vessel Torga Thia, of Sweden, stood by
16 April Fiahing boat Cheryl C, svaed boat 2
30 May Fishing vessel Pegasus, of Great Yarmouth, escorted vessel
21 June Fishing vessels Donna Maria and Justified, gave help
29 June Yacht Meg, saved boat 3
29 June Sailing club safety boat Jeanie, escorted boat
29 June Fishing vessel Sea Eagle, escorted vessel
14 April Sailboard, saved board 1
15 July Fishing vessel Blue Boy, gave help
19 August Skin diver, saved 1
19 August Two motor boats, gave help
28 September Last Service, Yacht Smiling Swiss, landed an injured woman
Preceded byRNLB Forester’s Centenary (ON 786) RNLB The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows (ON 960) 1961 to 1990 Succeeded byRNLB Lloyds II (ON 986)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sheringham Lifeboats: By Leach, Nicholas and Russell, Paul :Published by landmark Pub Ltd, 2009: ISBN 978-1-84306-473-2
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The Sheringham Lifeboats, 1838-200: By Bensley, Mick: Published :Bengunn 2003:ISBN 0-9533998-1-8
  3. ^ OS Explorer Map 252 - Norfolk Coast East. ISBN 978-0-319-23815-8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Oakley Class Lifeboats: An Illustrated History of the RNLI's Oakley and Rother Lifeboats: By Leach, Nicholas :Published by The History Press Ltd: ISBN 978-0-7524-2784-3