When the coal brig Visiter ran aground along Robin Hoods Bay in January 1881, the hills between the bay and Whitby, were covered in snow with drifts up to eight feet deep.
No boats from Robin Hoods Bay were in good enough condition to mount a rescue so the Whitby lifeboat was requested. However, casting off from Whitby and rowing along the coast into the storm was impossible. This forced the crew to attach the boat to horses and haul it across land as volunteers dug a path through the snow. It took the crew just three hours to cover the six miles between the two towns.
After lowering the boat down the steep hill into the bay, the boat was able to rescue the crew of the Visiter on its second attempt. Exactly 100 years after the incident, a commemorative plaque was installed where the descent into the bay took place.
Six years after the incident, a local ship captain, Isaac Mills and his wife, Alice, presented a cast iron painted sculpture of a codfish to serve as a collecting box for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. It’s still used today and serves the RNLI.