West Sussex Unwrapped

A black and white image showing a priest addressing a crowd during the blessing of a lifeboat launch, Selsey in 1938
Image from Lifeboat Launch (1938) – Selsey

Welcome to West Sussex  Unwrapped – the ten-part series that takes you deep into the collections of Screen Archive South East and the West Sussex Record Office

We’re going back to 1938 this week, to join the crowds who’ve gathered to witness the official blessing and launch of Selsey’s newest lifeboat – Canadian Pacific, which you can see perched high up on the lifeboat station’s slip-way. Also attending the ceremony are the great and the good of the county – both temporal and spiritual and braving the elements in furs. See if you can spot Bishop Bell of Chichester, after the launch, treading his way nervously down the ramp as the rest of the dignitaries glide impeccably away in their limousines.


Canadian Pacific replaced a previous lifeboat, also confusingly called Canadian Pacific, which had been destroyed in a fire the year before. She was despatched on 286 missions and saved 137 lives before her retirement in 1969. If you’d like to see the whole film, which includes an idyllic family beach holiday, click HERE

Our partner, the West Sussex Record Office, has also unearthed some interesting items from their marine-related archives for you to enjoy. There are aerial photographs of Chichester and Shoreham Harbours as well as a gallery of lifeboat images starting in 1901. Maps showing coastguard stations along the West Sussex coastline are also on show and to access these fascinating items click HERE