Edward Birkbeck

Norfolk and Suffolk Class built 1896 by Beeching Brothers, Great Yarmouth.

Designated ensign Designated house flag



Service Vessel


Norfolk and Suffolk Class


Ongoing conservation






Web site








5.00 feet (1.52 metres)

10.00 feet (3.05 metres)

34.00 feet (10.36 metres)

2.50 feet (0.76 metres)



EDWARD BIRKBECK is an early example of the Improved Norfolk & Suffolk Non-Self Righting Lifeboat, built by Beeching Brothers of Great Yarmouth in 1896 at a cost of £436.2.7d, from an anonymous donor.

She was named after Sir Edward Birkbeck, a former Chairman of the Winterton Branch of the RNLI.

She was sent to the Winterton station on 2 November 1896 and servied as the No. 1 Lifeboat until the station was closed in 1925, when she was sold. During that time she was launched 44 times, saving 94 lives. Commemorative plaques in the Fisherman's Corner at Winterton Church list her rescues.

In 1925, EDWARD BIRKBECK was sold as sound and fit for conversion and further use. She was bought by Major R. W. 'Capt' Sparrow, of Garthmaelon Hall, Dolgellau who sailed her at Falmouth and had the vessel converted at some time before 1951 when she was surveyed by W. J. Noble of Falmouth and described as an auxiliary cruiser called 'Mirosa'. By this time, the vessel comprised: a pine deck laid across at gunwale level (but with a saloon which was planked), rigged as an Auxiliary Sloop and had had a 4 cylinder 10 hp Ford Storm Auxiliary Petrol Engine installed.

On 18 August 1957 she was sold to J. E. Hamlin for £600 and the 1965 edition of Lloyds Register no. 6148 describes her asn Auxliary Sloop of sail area 400 sq. ft., remaining at Falmouth.

In 1973, Paul Dunbar, Naval Surveyor, bought and lived on the boat with his wife until 1987 carrying out restoration work at Landrake boatyard on the River Tamar, a few miles upstream from Plymouth. She had a bowsprit and gaff cutter rig, the mast still in its original position and weighing 13 tons, as opposed to the 12 tons in 1965. This extra ton arose from the decking over the stern cockpit, the gaff, the bowsprit, an oak table and cast iron cooker in the saloon.

In 1987 she was up for sale as a gaff topsail cutter and purchased by private owners who sailed her from Plymouth to Conwy Harbour in Noth Wales through the 1987 gales. Sold again in 1998 and subsequently in 2003, at some point after 2004 she was sadly abandoned and left to deteriorate in Conway Harbour until her rescue in March 2012 and return to Winterton on Sea. The restoration work is being carried out by a team of local volunteers under the guidance of local boatbuilder, Maynard Watson. The Winterton on Sea Restoration Group aim to build a new Heritage Visitor Centre in Winterton Dunes on the site of the last Lifeboat Shed where the Edward Birkbeck was housed until 1925, when the RNLI closed down the station at Winterton.

Subsequent developments

The iron keel was removed in Mar 2013 and during the summer a team of Princes Trust Volunteers from City College Norwich spent a week helping with the sanding of the hull. A grant of £2,500 was obtained from Norfolk Community Foundation in Mar 2013 enabling the purchase of seasoned mahogany for replacing rotten wood where necessary. At the end of Sep 2013, the boat had to be removed from its temporary home and is currently covered for winter on private land. Source: Winterton on Sea Restoration Group, Oct 2013.

Key dates

  1. 1896

    Built by Beeching Brothers of Great Yarmouth as a Lifeboat for a private donor.  Named after Sir Edward Birbeck, a Chairman of the Winterton Branch of the RNLI

  2. 1896-1925

    Served as No 1 Lifeboat of Winterton Station being launched 44 times and rescuing 94 lives

  3. 1925

    Sold to Major R W Sparrow of Dolgellau who sailed her to Falmouth and renamed her Mirosa and changed her to an auxiliary cruiser by having a pine deck laid at gunwale level with a saloon. The accommodation was divided by partial transverse bulkheads into a forward store.  It had been rigged as an Auxiliary Sloop and the water ballast valves had been taken out, the holes blocked and the iron keels removed and replaced with a three ton iron keel.  A 4 cylinder 10HP Ford Storm Auxiliary Petrol Engine was installed

  4. 1957

    Acquired by J E Hamlin of Falmouth

  5. 1973

    Acquired by Paul Dunbar and he and his wife lived on her

  6. 1987

    Acquired by Gordon and Lynn Brown who sailed her from Plymouth to Conwy Harbour in N Wales although they had to be rescued by the St Davids lifeboat.  Renamed Edward Birbeck

  7. 1996

    Centenary celebrated on board

  8. 1998

    Acquired by Martin and Wendy Monk of Shrewsbury who kept her in Conwy

  9. 2003

    Sold to an unknown buyer

  10. 2012

    2012 -  Rescued by present owner and restoration began by Volunteers from City College Norwich with a grant of £2500 from Norfolk Community Foundation

  11. 2015

    Vessel thought to be on private land in East Somerton, Norfolk undergoing restoration

  12. C2004

    She was abandoned and left to deteriorate in Conwy Harbour

If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

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