The Welly Trail Tommy LITTON


Welcome to the Exmouth RNLI Yellow Welly Trail.

If you have a leaflet, enjoy the trail.

If not, click on

 where you will find all the information you need to enable you to join in!

Sponsored by:

Units 4 & 5 Enterprise Row, Victoria Way, Exmouth EX81EB

Welly situated on the Langerwehe Way side


Thomas Henry Litton 

Coxswain 1957-64

Coxswain of three Lifeboats:

Maria Noble

George and Sarah Stachan

Michael Stephens




Joint owner of ‘Donna Maria’ 30 foot with  motor, net, line and trawl.  Based in Exmouth

Early on the morning of 13th May 1959, orange flares were seen and the lifeboat launched at 1.20am to aid a motor yacht “Dona” whose engine had broken down.  Just as the Maria Noble  approached, the engine restarted, and the yacht surged forwards, hitting the Lifeboat and causing some damage.  The yacht had been adrift for over 9 hours, and was towed back to Exmouth Docks.

The RNLI decided to replace ‘Maria Noble’ with a larger more powerful boat, better able to cope with the rough seas, and to get to rescues further away in Lyme Bay and in the English Channel.  This Lifeboat would be too big for the boathouse, and would be moored in the Exe Estuary, at Shelly Beach, near the Docks.  Crew would reach the Lifeboat using a Boarding Boat. 

Sometimes, our current Shannon Lifeboat is moored in the Estuary, most recently because the turntable of our recovery vehicle needed repairs.  As you walk to Welly 11, see if you can spot our Boarding Boat in the Marina – hint – it’s orange! 

The ‘Maria Noble’ was moved to RNLI Blackpool, whilst in Exmouth, she launched 30 times and saved 35 lives. 

As the Lifeboat Station no longer housed a boat, it was converted to a Lifeboat Display Centre for raising funds, and crew facilities were constructed on the quayside.

Not all shouts are to aid ships in danger.  

On 7th October 1961, the Lifeboat was needed for a ‘medevac’, taking the Port Medical Officer to a Liberian Tanker, ‘George Champion’ where a crewman had severe lacerations to his arm.  After treatment, the injured man was transferred to the Lifeboat by a sling and taken to an ambulance waiting at Exmouth Dock. 

In 1963, the slightly larger Lifeboat, ‘Michael Stephens’ arrived in Exmouth.  

Originally built in 1939, this was one of the 19 Lifeboats which helped evacuate British and Allied  soldiers from Dunkirk, ferrying troops from the beach to ships which were too big to get close. 

The first time Lifeboat ‘Michael Stephens’ was launched in by Exmouth RNLI, it was to go to the aid of their own  Deputy Coxswain Brian Rowsell, whose boat ‘Nil Desperandum’ had a broken gear box shaft and needed to be towed back to Exmouth.  

Write the letter L from LITTON in space 10 of your answer box.


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We have made every effort to ensure all the information about the Coxswains is accurate. However, we are always happy to be corrected or updated and, if you can add to our knowledge base, please email us at


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