Photo of Lifeboat

Bawdsey Lifeboat (Life Boat)

also traded as as: Old Beach House

historical era: mid 20th century

opened 1810

Shingle St

grid reference TM 366 426

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CAMRA Ipswich & East Suffolk branch.

last updated 13/07/2015

The 1904 Woodbridge licensing records show that the Lifeboat's license was issued in 1894. Whether this was when it was first licensed or when it got a full (ie not just beer) license isn't clear, though the latter seems more probable.

Reportedly blown up during RAF bomb testing during WWII - possibly whilst experimenting with bouncing bombs. Indeed the Woodbridge licensing records say that the Lifeboat was "destroyed by war actions". There must have been some hope of rebuilding the pub, as the license was kept active until 1962, when it was finally relinquished.

What do you know about the LIFEBOAT INN at Orford Haven/Shingle Street?

"I have been researching the hamlet for the past two years, but who built the two-story inn destroyed in the last war defeats me."

"There is supposed to have been an inn of sorts in 1810, but little known about it. In 1815 an advert appeared in the Ipswich Journal, "inn for sale as a free house, known as the Lifeboat". 1870 to 1885 was a period of change, the hamlet was supposed to develop to rival Felixstowe and there was talk of the railway coming, but it never happened."

"The two-story inn destroyed by Barnes Wallis was supposed to have been manufactured at Cobbolds Cliff Quay Brewery, and sailed round on a barge, offloaded on to the foundations that can still be seen today. BUT a search in the Suffolk Record Office has failed to produce any Cobbold document that verifies this. Know that the innkeeper from 1851 for the following 50 years was Francis William Langmaid. Cobbold's owned the pub from early days, may even have bought it in 1815. The favoured point for the building of the two-story inn, is 1878 to 1880 although I cannot prove it."

"In 1857 property of the late John Cobbold lists the Lifeboat Inn, Bawdsey as paying £10, in 1866 the transfer was still £10 with rent up to 1876, £10 but after that right up to the last entry in 1919 (in this book) no amount has been shown for rent or transfer. A new inn had to be worth more than £10 so think that was somewhere near the point of change."

(information above from Alec Burwood)

A report in the Ipswich Journal** in Sept 1815 states that :

To be sold by private contract that pleasant summer residence, known by the name of the Life Boat Inn, situated on the beach, in the parish of Bawdsey, at the entrance to Orford Haven. The premises being directly opposite Hollesley Bay, commanding a beautiful view of the German Ocean.

A paperback book published in 1969, called "Inns of the Suffolk Coast" by Leonard P Thompson*** contains the following description:

Met a violent end when Royal Air Force bombers used it for target practice and destroyed it in the early days of the war. It was a wooden building without any claims to architectural distinction, but for some 130 years this inn and its even more modest predecessor had given cheerful service to local people & visiting holidaymakers alike. William White's directory for Suffolk, 1844 records that the Life Boat Inn and several other houses were erected in 1810 "for the accommodation of sea bathers". Before the Life Boat Inn was so called, the establishment - probably an earlier building - appears to have been known as the Old Beach House. Chapter XX of Margaret Catchpole (book) describes how the heroine's brother, Edwards, whilst searching for her villainous lover, Will Laud, went to "the Old Beach House, at the mouth of the River Alde, now known by the name of the Life-Boat Public House, then kept by Jacob Merrells, a pilot.

(Most pub, location & historic details collated by Nigel, Tony or Keith - original sources are credited)

(some old PO directory information courtesy of londonpublichouse.com)

(** information from Stuart Ansell)

(*** historic book information from Bob Mitchell)