The Ariel was Hastings' first purpose-built lifeboat, built after a disaster off St Leonards; during a gale on 20 November 1834 six Coastguards launched a large rowing boat from their station at Bulverhythe in a brave attempt to save the small collier Good Intent, of Rye, drifting off the new town of St Leonards. But the Good Intent sank as they approached - and then their own boat capsized and all were drowned. The young Princess Victoria, soon to become queen, and her mother the Duchess of Kent happened to be staying in Crown House, Marina, and the Duchess witnessed the tragedy, along with many other people.
A public fund to provide a local lifeboat was soon started, with the Duchess heading the subscriptions. As a result of the collection, the Ariel was soon constructed at the Thwaites shipyard, with which James Beeching had strong family links, and which he had once half-owned.The Ariel had an unsuccessful career unfortunately, stretching over about 17 years in which no lives were saved, and the boat may only have been in the water two or three times[Notes 1]. There was also no shelter or regular maintenance for the boat, and the Ariel was ultimately left in the open in a variety of places including the Condemned Hole then some waste-ground near the Priory, eventually being purchased by Mr. W. Scrivens in 1850, who spent £22 12s. 9d. in fixing it up
References & Notes
- Brett claims in Vol. 6 of his Manuscript Histories that the Ariel was never launched as a rescue vessel