The harbour lies to the south west of the town, beyond Gun Hill and South Green. Southwold was once a very busy fishing port, it was actually recorded in the doomsday book that Southwold was a most prosperous fishing port in the 11th century. Herring being the main catch, and up until the 1914 - 18 war large numbers of people could be seen gutting the fish during the season. After the war, the sad national trend of decline, affected the markets at Southwold.

The harbour is half-a-mile from the main town centre, and may be reached by two separate routes. By road you may go either along Blackshore Road or Ferry Road, either are wide enough for two way traffic, and of course it is perfectly accessible by boat.

Southwold Harbour is still a bustling place, and it is a most relaxing place to stroll along it's shores taking a leisurely walk, where one will be fascinated by the variety of workshops and fishing commerce. The sale of freshly caught fish still attracts many to the harbour, and you may wish for refreshment with a cup of tea and light meal, fish and chips, or a cool drink at the Harbour Inn.

Operating from the harbour you will find a small but reliable ferry service across to Walberswick, and during the season there are regular river trips, (conditions allowing).There is also access to Walberswick on foot, by walking past the Harbour Inn to the Bailey bridge and across the river to this small lovely village gives you another excellent view of the harbour area.

At the entrance to the Harbour you will find the RNLI station, at this point there is ample car parking facilities, (charges may apply in season). The Alfred Corry Museum is situated within this car park. Note: for those visiting the harbour it is essential that caution is taken at and near the harbour entrance. Do NOT go beyond the safety rail along this quayside, there are extremely strong tidal conditions running into the harbour area.

Southwold Harbour

Southwold Harbour and Lifeboat station

Admiration for the work and bravery of British Lifeboat crews is unquestioned. As one stands at the mouth of Southwold's harbour on a stormy winters day, watching the raging sea, one is forced to ask the question, " who would want to be at sea in that raging torrent"..?

Not surprisingly many vessels get into difficulties off our coasts every year and It is solely due to the dedication, skill and training (not to mention oceans of bravery) of our lifeboat crews that so many people are rescued from the sea.

Over the years there have been many sad losses of lifeboatmen attempting rescues around our shores, but these tragedies are far outweighed by the many successful rescues that have been achieved. British crews have been honoured time and time again with medals and awards for bravery, and have been featured in many television documentaries, including 'This is your Life'.

The present Southwold lifeboat is of the 'Atlantic 75 class', a rigid, inflatable, rapid launch, high speed craft, for quick response close to shore. It has a maximum speed of 32 knots, an overall length of 7.3 meters, and normally carries a crew of 3. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution expects to attempt rescues within 50 miles of the UK, using its fleet of 260 lifeboats, housed in its 200 stations.

In recent years there have been about 5,000 call-outs annually, with perhaps 1,500 lives saved. Today's lifeboats are a far cry from the earliest boats, which were powered by oar and sail. The first steam powered lifeboat was introduced in 1890, and the first petrol boat in 1904.

Notable Southwold Awards since 1925:

1925 Stations first motor Lifeboat arrives.

1942 Bronze medal voted to J. H. Gillings for gallantry rushing into the sea and rescuing a man in 1942.

1940 The Lifeboat 'Mary Scott' took part in the evacuation of the British expeditionary forces from Dunkrk in May, manned by naval ratings.

1973 Atlantic 21 inshore Lifeboat 'Sole Bay' sent to station.

1973 Bronze medal awarded to Patrick Pile, and Martin Helmer, for the rescue of three people from a motor dingy which capsized off Walberswick Beach on 6th February.

1981 Bronze medal awarded to helmsman Roger Edward Trigg for the rescue of three crew from mvf 'Concorde' which had broken down three quarters of a mile east of Southwold Pier in darkness, gale force winds, continuous snow and rough seas.