Birnbeck Island yet again makes work for Weston-super-Mare RNLI Volunteers

Friday, 23 March 2018

Weston RNLI station has had nine calls so far this year, five of them to the derelict island of Birnbeck.

 The derelict and deserted Birnbeck Island sticks out into the Bristol Channel at the north of Weston Bay. Once a world beating entertainment hub and also the home for Weston RNLI lifeboat for many years it has now sunk into disrepair. The pier connecting it to the mainland is so dangerous even lifeboat crews are not allowed to use it.

However there is a shingle bank, exposed at every low tide, which connects the island to the mainland. This shingle bank is a magnet for many who think it would be fun to walk over it to the island. But the tide comes in with ferocity in this area and very soon the shingle bank is covered and victims are cut off.

On Friday some of the lifeboat crew saw a man walking over this shingle bank just when the tide was starting to flood. They knew it would be covered shortly and the man would not be able to get back. They informed one of their colleagues from Weston Coastguard and then the whole lifeboat crew was paged to go to the rescue.

When the D Class lifeboat Anna Stock approached the Island they could not, at first, see the casualty. They had to land crew on the island and after some time the man was found hiding in a gully amongst the rocks. He was scared, apologetic and embarrassed. It turned out he was Hungarian only visiting Weston for a week. He did not understand the local tides and the risk he was under. He had gone over to take photos as he found the scenery beautiful.

After reassurance he asked how much he would have to pay for the rescue!

Terry Wells Weston RNLI Helmsman said: Once again we go to Birnbeck. We can’t blame this man as he did not know how dangerous it is. It is strange that he thought we were the police and then he wanted to know how much we were going to charge. Obviously it is different in his country. If he hadn’t shown himself he could have died.’

The picture shows the man behind the rocks

A video is available from Glyn Hayes and will be available from the RNLI video library.