The old Sønderho Lifeboat Station 1887
The old Sønderho Lifeboat Station. Photo: 2015.
SØNDERHO LIFEBOAT STATION
By Per Hofman Hansen
For centuries seamen feared the North Sea. When a gale blew the sea was rough and it could be difficult to calculate sea currents that could increase a ship’s drift off course.
Further, the coast had a low profile without well-defined landmarks and harbours. Numerous strandings with the loss of ships and seamen was the reason for the foundation of the North Jutland Lifeboat Institution (Det Nørrejydske Redningsvæsen
) in 1852 with the aim to salvage shipwrecked sailors. In the following years 20 lifeboat stations were established from Skagen to Mandø.
Sønderho lifeboat station was established in 1887 and equipped with a self-bailing, unsinkable rowing lifeboat. However, Sønderho was not provided with a rocket apparatus and a breeches buoy. A rescue party of 12 volunteers were attached to the station and eight horses could be called in to draw the boat.
A lifeboat drill on Sønderho beach around 1950. Photo in Sønderho Local Archives.
Under severe weather conditions with storm and poor visibility, the lifeboat station keeper could call in local beach wardens to patrol the coast and look out for ships in distress. In 1900 the Sønderho lifeboat station had a telephone installed with connection to a telephone hut (and in 1912 two huts) on the beach so the beach warden could call the station keeper and report a stranding.
In 1938 the lifeboat station got a new lifeboat. During the World War 2 the boat was employed not only in connection to strandings, but also to assist crashed allied warplanes.
The old-fashioned rowing lifeboat was discarded in 1958 and replaced by a new motor lifeboat equipped with a ships-radio, steering wheel and searchlight.
In 1974 the old lifeboat station was closed and a new station was established in Sønderho. In 1988 the Foundation Old Sønderho (Fonden Gamle Sønderho) converted the lifeboat station into a museum. Two years later a preservation order was put on the building.
From 1887 and until 1954 Sønderho Lifeboat Station salvaged a total of 101 shipwrecked persons. The most extraordinary salvage operation took place in January 1903 when 50 people were rescued from a passenger ship S/S Koldinghus
Fonden Gamle Sønderho. The Foundation Old Sønderho
With donations and the assistance of volunteers the Foundation Old Sønderho is managing the old lifeboat station, Sønderho Mill, Hannes House, the Old Fire Station Museum, the Tile Collection in Nanas Drawing Room and Lorenzen’s Shop, where you can buy books about Fanø, the original Fanøheadscarf and other beautiful objects related to Fanø’s history. email@example.com
English translation: Palle Uhd Jepsen
Links and literature
- Fonden Gamle Sønderho
- Guide til Fanøs historie om Sønderho Redningsstation
- Jørgen Lind: Redningsstation Sønderho oprette 1.10.1887. Published by Sønderho-Arkivet for Fonden Gamle Sønderho, 1989. New edition 2004. 24 pages in Danish.