Sort file:- Walmer, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Wednesday, 31 March, 2021.


Earliest 1976

(Name from)

Life Boat

Latest 2008

16 The Strand


Lifeboat at Deal

Photo by Paul Skelton, 3 February 2008.

Former Lifeboat 2010

Former Lifeboat 2008. Kindly supplied by Tony Wells.


Previously called the "True Briton" now unfortunately closed (2008).


From the East Kent Mercury, Thursday 18th September, 1976.


Lifeboat, Deal 1976

Above picture shows, Sir Norman Tailyour, Captain of Deal Castle and Patron of the Downs and Goodwin Sands branch, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, open "The Lifeboat" public house on the Strand at Walmer, an historic house for generations named "The True Briton." With Sir Norman is Charrington director, Mr. John Fox, and on the extreme right, Mr. Larry Boomer, licensee.


LIFEBOATMEN'S SUNDAY was celebrated at Walmer this week. There was the traditional church service, the launching of the lifeboat and, for good measure, the re-naming of a historic lifeboatmen's public house.

The Walmer lifeboat, Hampshire Road, was dedicated and named a year ago. The money for the new lifeboat was raised in Hampshire by the Hampshire Rose Appeal.

The appeal was launched and guided by Sir Alec Rose, the round-the-world yachtsman, and he was in Walmer on Sunday for the observance of Lifeboatmen's Sunday.

He saw the Hampshire Rose make a dramatic launch down the beach into the sea.

Then Sir Alec joined members of the lifeboat crew and committee in St. Saviour's Church - right opposite the lifeboat house - for the Lifeboat Service.

This was conducted by the vicar of Walmer, the Rev. Peter Hammond, who also gave the address.

With Sir Alec was Sir Norman Tailyour, Captain of Deal Castle, who is patron of the Downs and Goodwin Sands branch, Royal National Lifeboat Institution; and the branch chairman, Mr. Jack Lewis.


The Walmer lifeboat cox'n, Bruce Brown, led his crew and team of launchers and beach workers.

Mr. Hammond, in his address, spoke of Isaiah's prophesy that when God came, the dessert would rejoice and blossom as a rose. So, when God came into men's hearts, the world becomes a better place and it is a better place because God has inspired men to create the RNLI, has inspired the people of Hampshire to provide a lifeboat for Walmer, and has inspired many people to support it and form its crew.

The work of the lifeboat was sometimes dangerous; but more often frustrating and even humdrum. It was very necessary work, and all should pray that it should continue in the years ahead.

Sir Alec Rose read the lesson, the Rev. Arthur Roberts led the Prayers, and Gerald Mack was at the organ.

After the service the activity moved just a few yards along The Strand to the "True Briton" public house.

Here Sir Norman Tailyour re-named the historic hostelry. "The Lifeboat," and commemorated the occasion by unveiling the inn-sign.

This depicts the Hampshire Rose, on one side, and former Walmer cox'n, Harry Brown, on the other.

Introduced by Charrington's south regional trade director, Mr. John Fox, Sir Norman said: "A True Briton is symbolised by a lifeboatman, who is the most English of this country's national figures."

The licensee, former Royal Air Force flight lieutenant Mr. Larry Boomer, then invited everyone into his spacious bars to drink to the health of the newly-named public house.


From the East Kent Mercury, Thursday 30th September, 1976.


The Hampshire Rose

Above picture shows one side of the sign. The Hampshire Rose, the Walmer Lifeboat named a year ago and the gift of the people of Hampshire through the appeal launched by Sir Alec Rose. This brought in 67,000.


It isn't often an old and well-established public house changes its name. But the "True Briton" on The Strand at Walmer has become the "Lifeboat"... and there could be no more appropriate title. The pub has been used by generations of Walmer lifeboatmen, and often survivors have been taken into the bars to be given refreshment and dry clothes.

The "Lifeboat" is a Charrington public house and the brewers were more than happy to accede to the request of the landlord, Larry Boomer, for a change of name.

Larry Boomer and his charming wife, Monica, have been established for almost a year. Previously, the couple were at the "Crooked Billet" in the valley of Ash. They were there after two successful years in management at the "Coastguard" the St. Margaret's Bay Pub.

Their first public house in 1970, was the "Roebuck" at Hampstead, one of the most famous public houses in the country.

Larry came into public house business after working all his life in electronics. He served for 23 years with the Royal Air Force.

Too young for World War Two, he enlisted as a youngster after a couple of years after hostilities had ended. He ended his career with the RAF as a flight lieutenant.

After this, he took up a most important appointment in the Middle East; he was electronics adviser to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, then building his own modern air force.

Larry was based at Riyadh, the capital of the country.

Since moving to the "Lifeboat," he and Monica have given the old public house a "face-lift," and this has made it a favourite haunt for all ages.

Larry tells me the public house was first named after a ship. The "True Briton" was built at Deptford in 1790, and as an East Indiaman was designed and built on very modern lines. She is considered by some nautical experts to have been the first-in-line in modern ship design.

There's a fine picture of her in the bar; together with an excellent collection of pictures and photographs of the various Walmer lifeboats.

The double-sided inn sign of the "Lifeboat" depicts Harry Brown, a former Walmer lifeboat cox'n, on the one side and the new Walmer lifeboat, Hampshire Rose, on the other.

The inn sign, as are all Charrington signs in South East England - is the work of the gifted Bill Pierce, the brewers' official artist.

Bill was still serving with the Army when he seized the opportunity to study at the University of Art at Florence. He spent six months there, and the influence shows to this day.

Bill works from a studio which is adjacent to the "Five Bells" public house in Ringwould, from where he completes inn signs for public houses over a wide area.

Harry Brown only retired as cox'n of Walmer lifeboat on reaching the age limit some three years ago. (1973)

Harry joined the lifeboat after leaving the Royal Navy in 1945, and became second cox'n to Ben Bailey in 1962 and cox'n in April, 1966.

He has taken the lifeboat in many exciting rescues over the Goodwin Sands, and his knowledge of local waters and the dreaded Sands is second-to-none.

In his last year as cox'n the Royal National Lifeboat Institution awarded him its vellum for the rescue of a small ketch on the Sands.

But there was one rescue for which Harry didn't get any reward ... although it was the most dramatic in his life at sea.

This was the evacuation of Dunkirk in that glorious summer of 1940. He was then a tough and hard-bitten Deal boatman in his late twenties. He had enlisted in the Royal Navy but had not been assigned to a ship.


Harry was one of a handful of Deal boatmen that went to Dunkirk to save allied troops from the beaches. Five Deal boats went to Dunkirk, and Harry was in George Riley's Gipsy King, with newly married Fred Hook and Alf Betts.

Thursday, May 30th, 1940, was a sparkling day of flat calm, and the placid Channel shimmered under the hot sun. But the horizon over the coast of France was blackened by dense smoke rising from a dozen places.

But it was worst over the port of Dunkirk, where thousands of troops stood and waited for escape.

In the depths of Dover Castle there was admiral Ramsay directing the massive evacuation, which had the code-name "Operation Dynamo", and which Sir Winston Churchill later described as "a miracle".

One thing most people don't know is that Harry Brown was once a scratch golfer. He used to caddie for the late Sir Aynsley Bridgland.

The Hampshire Rose is a Rother class lifeboat with a length of 37ft. beam. She is powered by two 52 shp diesel engines which give a massive speed of more than eight knots.

At full speed the Hampshire Rose has a range of 72 nautical miles. In her hull are no less than a dozen watertight compartments. If she capsizes, the Hampshire Rose rights herself in seconds.

There has been a lifeboat in Walmer even since 1856, and the number of lives saved from the sea well exceeds 800.

The most famous of all the Walmer lifeboats was the Charles Diblin (Civil Service No. 2), which was on station from 1933 to 1959.

Joe Mercer was a famous cox'n, but the most well-known of all the Walmer cox'ns was Freddie Upton whose name became renowned around the world in the years immediately after World War Two, when the Sands claimed victim after victim in quick succession.

Freddie Upton has twice been awarded the RNLI's Silver Medal, and his mechanic, Percy Cavell, twice the Bronze Medal.

Freddie lives not far from the "Lifeboat" and often enjoys a sea yarn at the bar.

Larry Boomer says; "I'm very proud the name has been changed to honour the life-boatmen of Walmer, Deal and Kingsdown. There never have been a finer breed of men."

The "Lifeboat" on the Strand revives a well-loved name. The original "Lifeboat" public house is now two cottages in Campbell Road, Walmer.

Lifeboat sign 1988Larry & Monica Boomer

Pictures above show on left the other side of the pub sign showing Harry brown and right, landlord and landlady, Larry and Monica Boomer.

From the East Kent Mercury 16 October, 1986.


Erection of wrought iron fence and two street lamps to provide sitting out area, The Forecourt immediately in front of the Lifeboat PH, 16 The Strand, Walmer.


Lifeboat sign 1981

Above sign, April 1981.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


From the East Kent Mercury 12 September, 1991.


THE Lifeboat pub, on The Strand, Walmer, virtually opposite the Walmer lifeboat house, has a new inn sign. It features Bruce Brown, former cox'n and engineer of the old Walmer lifeboats.

Lifeboat sign 1991Lifeboat sign 1991

The painting shows Bruce on one side and on the other the new Atlantic 21 inflatable lifeboat which succeeded the Hampshire Rose. It is the work of Wally Hardman, a talented artist who lives in Ash, and who is Bruce's brother-in-law.

The new inn sign was commissioned by Frank and Margaret Renihan, the licensees. It replaces the old sign which had Harry Brown, another former cox'n and Bruce's uncle, on one side and the Hampshire Rose on the other.

Bruce Brown has been connected with the Walmer lifeboat for three decades. In 1962 he succeeded Percy Cavell as the fulltime engineer and mechanic. Eleven years later he succeeded Harry Brown as cox'n and combined both duties until Cyril Williams became cox'n in 1982.

He has gained several RNLI awards, including the bronze medal In 1977 for saving the life of Cyril Williams who was trapped aboard a sinking cabin cruiser to which Walmer lifeboat had been called.

In this year's Queen's Birthday Honours he was awarded the DEM, a fitting tribute to his work with the lifeboat.

The new inn sign was a surprise for Bruce, for Frank and Margaret kept it a secret. No-one was more surprised than Bruce when he was called upon to unveil the new sign.

The original sign with Harry Brown went up in 1972, when The "Lifeboat" was called The "True Briton." The pub has strong connections with Walmer lifeboat over many years and the name was changed to signify that link.

There has been a lifeboat at Walmer since 1856 and the first two lifeboats were both the gift of the Royal Thames Yacht Club. No fewer than three craft were provided by the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund, including the famous Charles Dibdin, which saved 412 lives from the sea, more than all the other Walmer lifeboats put together.


From the East Kent Mercury 14 October, 2004.

Pub closes after landlady retires

The Lifeboat pub in The Stand, Walmer, has closed.

Owner Margaret Renihan, 60, has retired after being at the pub for 16 years.

"I wanted to retire when I was 60 and just enjoy the time to do all the things I want to do," she said.

"I read a lot - and I can also now go on holidays without having to get someone to run the pub.

"But I will miss meeting the people and having a chat."




Last pub licensee had BOOMER Larry 1975-76+

CARTER Mr & Mrs to 1984

FREEMAN Derek 1985-87

LEWIS Jim & Brenda Next pub licensee had 1987-89

RENIHAN Frank and Margaret to 1991-Oct/2004


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-