Lifeboat Service Archives
On the page below we are gradually adding notes on the history of the Cromer lifeboats, primarily from press articles. The text, kindly supplied by lifeboat historian Paul Russell, is fully searchable.
Where the text is taken directly from a newspaper, you'll see the name of the journal in yellow. Where appropriate, the heading for the article appears in white.
A meeting of the subscribers to the Life-Boat, is requested at the New Inn, at Cromer on Monday the 22nd July, at 12 o'clock precisely, to examine the state of the fund, and to make further regulations as may then appear necessary for the future management of the boat.
W. A. HARBORD Chairman
Those Gentlemen, Visitants and Inhabitants of Cromer and the Neighbourhood, who wish to encourage the establishment of a Life Boat, are requested to meet at the Hotel, at Cromer, on Wednesday, the 31st instant, at twelve o'clock precisely, when some further particulars will be laid before them, and Resolutions to promote the object submitted to their consideration.
N.B. Two of Greathead's publications, describing the Life Boat and its success, are left at Leak's Library, at Cromer, for the use and information of the Town and Neighbourhood.
At a meeting of the Gentlemen held this day at the Hotel at Cromer, pursuant to advertisement, the establishment of a Life Boat on the most eligible part of the North East coast of Norfolk was taken into consideration.
The Hon.Col. Harbord in the chair.
It was resolved.
1st. That from the danger of the coast, the command of experienced seamen, and the undoubted utility of a Life Boat in cases of imminent distress at sea, it appears highly desirable to establish one at Cromer.
2nd. That from accounts laid before this meeting it appears, that the sum necessary to complete the establishment in the first instance will not exceed three hundred pounds, but that it will be expedient to raise a further sum of at least as much more, to form a fund for annual and occasional outgoings.
3rd. That a subscription be immediately opened for the accomplishment of the above humane and worthy purpose, and promoted throughout the county as a matter of general interest.
4th. That the following Gentlemen be appointed a Committee to solicit and receive subscriptions, and when a sufficient sum is raised, to order a Life Boat from the inventor. And that the said Committee do meet at the Hotel at Cromer, at twelve o'clock precisely, on Monday the 12th day of November, viz.
Right Hon. Lord Suffield
Hon. Colonel Harbord
Rev. Leo Doughty Esq.
Rev. Dr. Gardiner
George Wyndham Esq.
John Gay Esq.
Richard Gurney Esq.
Rev. Paul Johnson
With power to add to their number.
Mr F. Bartell
Mr. Thomas Mickleburgh
Rev. Edward Edwards
Rev. Robert Hankinson
Mr. Joseph Gurney
Mr. B. Rust
Mr. John Eldred
5th. That the above Committee be also empowered to take the entire management of the Fund, of the Boat and its appurtenances, to order the necessary Boat-house, Carriages etc and to reward the exertions of the seamen agreeable to the hazard run, and the alacrity shown in cases of danger.
W. A. HARBORD
6th. That the Thanks of this meeting be given to the Chairman for his impartial attention to the business, and his humane endeavour to promote the object of the Meeting.
7th. That the above Resolutions, with such Sums as may now be subscribed, be published in the Norwich, Ipswich and Bury Papers.
CROMER, Oct. 31, 1804.
The attention of the nobility and gentry in the county of Norfolk, is at this time interested in the establishment of a Life-Boat at Cromer, and subscription papers for this purpose are laid upon the desk of all the banks in the county.
It may be proper to observe, that a Life-Boat at Cromer, is only the commencement of a plan, which has for its object, similar establishments on the most dangerous parts of the Norfolk coast; and as far as the fund will admit, it is proposed to have Life-Boats placed on other exposed situations, to the eastward and westward of Cromer.
As the expenses attending the complete equipment of one Life-Boat will be between 4 and 500l it is obvious that a considerable sum must be raised to carry the above purposes into effect, to the desired extent - but, when an appeal is made to the benevolence of this county, of behalf of so humane and important an object, the most sanguine expectations are entertained of adequate encouragement.
The utility of the Life-Boat has been fully confirmed; and there is great reason to expect and believe that every subscriber to this establishment will contribute to save the valuable lives of many brave seamen. The cause of humanity is general, and it is hoped that those who live at a distance from the coast, will be equally ready, with those in its neighbourhood, to stretch out a helping hand to the sinking, perishing mariner.
It is very desirable that the subscription papers be filed as expeditiously as possible.
NC 24.11.04 = £442 5s 6d
NC 01.12.04 = £512 11s 6d
NC 08.12.04 = £546 3s 6d
NC 15.12.04 = £613 1s 6d
NC 22.12.04 = £640 7s 6d
NC 19.01.05 = £697 17s
This day se'nnight, Capt. Manby made an experiment on the beach at Cromer, of throwing his newly-constructed grapple-shot, attached to a line, from a mortar, for the purpose of giving relief to vessels in distress on a lee-shore, and where the sea washes up far upon it, or a distance from land. By this happy invention, a more instantaneous communication may be formed with the vessel, and pilots conveyed with certainty and dispatch, when every other effort is impractical; thereby the lives of our brave seamen preserved; and the valuable property of our merchants and owners rescued from destruction.
In the first experiment, the grapple and 1½ inch line were projected with 12oz. of powder across a rope moored to two anchors, and suspended in the middle by a buoy, upwards of 200 yards from the waters edge. The grapple keeping a firm hold, the life-boat was launched from its carriage, and quickly hauled to the spot where the supposed vessel in distress laid, and shewed what might have been done by the hands sent out, to save the crew, the cargo, and the vessel, even if the supposed hands on board had been incapable of making efforts to assist themselves. A shot attached to a log-line was then thrown from the mortar, along the beach, with the same quantity of powder, to the distance of 404 yards; which was allowed by the seafaring men present to be as far as any cases of distress upon our coasts might require.
It will naturally occur to our readers, that if a rope by this means is projected vice versa from the ship to the shore, the good consequences may be the same, for any boat once got over the breakers, will convey the timely assistance, and all may be saved.
The Earl of Moira and his Countess were present, and his Lordship expressed his entire approbation of the result. Capt. Manby explained to the Earl many particulars relative to his invention, and in a very easy and obliging manner answered the queries of the company, with which the pier was filled.
The Committee for the support and management of the Cromer life-boat drew up a testimonial of their perfect approbation of the plan, and after signing the same, presented it to the Captain. They also fixed an early day to take into consideration a method recommended by him for getting the life-boat to and from the sea with facility and ease, and for procuring such part of an apparatus for the above purpose as they have not got at present.
Those who have witnessed the tremendous gales which occasionally visit this coast, and the scenes of wretchedness which it then exhibits; when they see their fellow creatures perishing in spite of every exertion to save them from intrepidity, humanity, friendship, and affection can inspire; when they so often behold the immense value of national or individual property lost, from the insurmountable difficulties of experienced men going off to its assistance; we doubt not they will feel the merits of this simple and effectual discovery, and while they pay the tribute so justly due to Capt. Manby, they will endeavour, by their recommendation and pecuniary assistance, to establish at least the use of mortar, the line, and the grappling shot, wherever they may be required. The commercial world, and the underwriters in particular, will find it in their interest to adopt the plan, which the Captain has submitted to the consideration of Parliament; and we sincerely hope a further remuneration will reward his ingenuity and perseverance.
On Saturday morning, the Anna big, of Sunderland, came ashore about 7 o'clock, between Cromer and Runton; but as soon as it was known at the former place, the brave fellows there launched the Life boat, and buffeting the billows of a tremendous sea, with exertions that call for the highest praise, succeeded in saving the crew, consisting of about 14 hands, and a woman passenger.
Fifteen persons having been saved from a wreck near Cromer by the Life Boat, and four by Capt. Manby's carronage - the Committee of the Life Boat, with any other subscribers who wish to attend, are requested to meet on Monday, the 12th November, at the New Inn, Cromer, at twelve o'clock precisely, to consider of the reward to be given to the boat-men, and other business for the encouragement of these useful establishments.
Blickling 7th Nov. 1810
The Committee for managing the affairs of the Cromer Life-boat, will hold their next General Meeting, on Wednesday, the 10th September at 11 o'clock, when the Life-boat will be exercised, several experiments will be made with the gun intended to throw a shot with a rope affixed to a vessel in distress; it is also expected that some experiments of throwing a rope by means of rockets, which seems to possess the additional advantage of communicating light in the night, and thereby facilitating the accuracy with which the desired relief may be accorded.
Yesterday, being the time appointed for ascertaining, by actual experiment, the respective merits of the mortar for throwing a shot in cases of shipwreck, and of the rocket invented by Mr. Hase, of Saxthorpe, for the same purpose, and also for exhibiting the Cromer and Mundesley Life-boats - the town was early in the day thronged with company of the most remarkable kind; the assemblage indeed was remarkable for the numerous ladies of great beauty and most elegant appearance who graced the occasion with their presence. And as the weather was exceedingly fine every part of the proceedings could be seen to much advantage. Trials were made by the Mundesley boat's crew, of the newly invented apparatus for enabling the crews of vessels to escape on shore when no boats can approach them. Shots, with a rope attached to each, were fired, by which means a communication was obtained between the shore and boats moored at a distance of 300 yards off to sea. Several men were then conveyed from the boats to the shore, whose bodies were kept above water by means of tin cases containing a quantity of fixed air, being placed beneath their chests; and the men thus supported were hauled ashore with ropes reserved for that purpose. The result seemed to give perfect satisfaction. The mortar and rockets were next put to the test; the former throw the line to a greater distance, but in some essays the rope was broken. The superiority of the reel invented by Mr. Hase, for winding the line on, was clearly proved as being then much less liable to break than when coiled on the beach or in any trunk or basket. The rocket seems to possess much advantage in consequence of its velocity not being so great at first, and of its presenting a blaze of light in the night; but it not carry the line to so great a distance: this, however, may be partly be ascribed to the iron rod on which the rocket first started being rather too slim, and which by its wavering motion very probably caused it to loose its necessary elevation, but for this circumstance it would have flown much further. The Cromer and Mundesley life-boats were tried as to their speed in rowing, but whether from the superior skill of the Cromer boat-men, or from the form of the boat, the Cromer one (though considerably larger) had the advantage, and a very short trial was sufficient. Much attention was paid to these experiments by many distinguished and highly respectable characters, well known for the zeal and liberality with which they patronize and promote every plan of public improvement and utility. Amongst many others were particularly noticed Lord Suffield, the Hon. Col. Wodehouse (Lieutenant of the County), Sir Jacob Astley, Bart.,T.F.Buxton, Esq., MP, Edmond Wodehouse, Esq. MP, J.Gurney, Esq., J.H.Tomlinson, Esq., Rev. Dr.Hay, Rev.J.Cubitt, Rev.Mr.Cotterill, Dennis Gunton, Esq., F.Wheatley, Esq., Rev.Archdeacon Glover, Rev.Mr.Johnson, S.Hoare, Esq., A. Upcher, Esq., Backhouse, Esq. With the ladies and numerous members of their respective families.
In the evening there was an exhibition of fireworks from the jetty, which as they were most excellent in their kind and managed with much skill, the effect as seen from the cliffs was truly grand, and proved highly gratifying to the greatest number of spectators that has been seen in Cromer for many years.
At this place the following most distressing scene was witnessed by numerous spectators, during the tremendous hurricane of Friday last. At about two o'clock in the afternoon, a brig, coal loaded, the Duchess of Cumberland, of Newcastle, was forced on shore near the light-house, the tide then flowing and the sea enormously high. Every exertion was immediately made to save the crew (nine in number) - two mortars were quickly taken down and the life boat manned; but from the distance of the vessel from the shore, no shot with the line could reach her, nor could the life boat (though manned with Mr. Henry Sandford, and a chosen crew of 16 men) get near, as the violence of the wind and fury of the waves rendered all human efforts unavailing. The captain and one man took to their boat, but were soon overwhelmed and lost. The feelings of the numerous spectators may be easily conceived, when about four o'clock the vessel went to pieces with a dreadful crash, and the other poor men were hurled in the waves and entangled in the wreck, two of them were soon discovered struggling for life amongst the broken timbers and planks, and providently reached the shore, by the vigorous and most intrepid assistance of the spectators, many of whom plunged fearlessly into the water, and narrowly escaped being washed away or much hurt : the risk they ran may be easily conceived when it is known that the sea washed the cliffs with great violence, and pieces of the wreck were continually thrown with great force on the beach. Many gentlemen of respectability exerted themselves greatly, and at their own personal risk endeavoured by every possible means to save the poor sufferers. Amongst many others were particularly distinguished Mr. Buxton, Mr. Samuel Hoare, Jun., Mr. Wm. Lukin, Mr. Wyndham, Mr. Playford, and Mr. Sandford. About eight o'clock the same night, was also forced on shore opposite the town, a fine brig, called the Esther, of Shields, in ballast, the crew (12 in number) were all taken out by a Cromer boat. Three of the unfortunate men lost out of the crew of the Duchess of Cumberland were cast ashore, two at Bacton and one at Eccles. By a vessel arrived at this place from the Humber, accounts are received that there can be little less than 100 vessels on shore and sunk between Hull and Cromer. So dreadful a gale and so disastrous in its consequences, has never been experienced since 1696, when 200 sail of colliers and other vessels were lost on this coast, with the greater part of their crews.
On Tuesday October 13th the brig Equity, of Scarborough, from Cardiff to Newcastle, D. Smith, Master, laden with iron, came on shore near Cromer light, at 10pm blowing a tremendous gale of wind from the N.E. with rain. As soon as the vessel had struck the ground, Mr Buxton, Mr Hoare jun., and Dr Lushington, prompted by that humanity for which they are so eminently distinguished, appeared on the beach, instructing the fishermen to get the Life-Boat off to the assistance of the crew; at the same time the Overstrand Gun was brought to the beach, and the line thrown over the vessel between the masts, but the foremast being gone, the line was carried by the wind over the bow of the vessel. By this time the Cromer Life-Boat had got off, and succeeded in saving one man from the wreck, but unfortunately the boat got stoved, and was obliged to return to the beach, a large fishing boat was then launched and brought the crew, seven in number, safe on shore. Great praise is due to the Cromer and Overstrand fishermen for their prompt exertions.
On Friday, the 21st, in the morning, came ashore near this place, the Liberty, of Boston, John Hargrave, master, laden with oats from London. As the sea then ran very high it was found necessary to launch the Life-Boat to preserve the lives of the crew, consisting of the master and two others. The boat was very quickly into the water, well manned, and managed with great skill and courage, and the men were soon safely landed; the cargo is preserved though much damaged by the salt water; but the vessel is so much injured that there is little chance of her ever getting off again.
Wednesday being the day appointed for the Meeting of the Association for Preserving the Lives of Shipwrecked Seamen, the gentlemen of the District Committee, together with several of the subscribers and friends to this Society, assembled upon the beach about twelve o'clock, to inspect the apparatus. The jetty was filled with visitors and families of the first rank in the neighbourhood : indeed we never saw that pleasing promenade to greater advantage than on this occasion, from so many of our fair country-women appearing upon it, and taking an interest in an exhibition instituted to promote an object so benevolent and humane. The day was delightfully fine - too fine perhaps to see the apparatus as if in actual service: but we find that the committee have come to a resolution to try the practical utility of the inventions, under the influence of weather more closely assimilating with that which they would have to encounter when their assistance is actually required. The ladies, however, are not to be deprived of this interesting day; but a second meeting is to be held some time in February.
The experiments commenced with a shot being fired from the gun under the superintendence of the preventive service: to this shot a rope was attached, a communication was formed with the beach, and a man was by this means hauled up to the top of the cliff; thus shewing the mode in which relief may sometimes be afforded to seaman upon a stranded vessel. Shots were fired from the Runcton and Mundesley guns, which carried a rope to a distance of about 300 yards; the latter gun which is furnished with the percussion lock, appeared to possess the greater force; this kind of lock is at ended also the further advantage, of rendering, the fire more certain in wet weather, and when the gun is exposed to the spray of the sea. The life-boat was then launched, and with a view of promoting the object of the day and contributing to the amusement of those collected to witness the experiments; Capt Southey, the commanding officer upon this station, had two of his boats out, and a trial took place between them and the life-boat: they rowed a considerable distance along the coast, and although the men of wars-men had the advantage, their more ponderous opponent was evidently manned with able seamen. The life-boat was afterwards stationed 200 yards from the shore and two shots were fired carrying a rope, which effected a communication with her, and five men were hauled to the beach, being supported in safely by the copper collars; the great utility of which was thus manifested. Mr Wheatley, to whom the society is much indebted, was most active in directing the experiments, which were very successful and well managed.
The Committee and some of the subscribers to the society afterwards dined together at the New Inn, Lord Suffield, was in the chair, and amongst the company present were - Col. Wodehouse, Sir Robt. J. Harvey, Col. Petre, Col. Clithero, Rev. Archdeacon Glover, Mr Onley, Mr Cooke, (Leicestershire), Mr Mott, Rev. J. Hepworth, Capt. Southey, Capt. Grint, Capt. Day, Mr W. Herring, Mr S. Marsham, Rev. F. Cubitt, Mr Wheatley, Mr Vipan, Mr Earle, Mr Howes &c.
In the evening a display of Fire-works took place from the Jetty, under the management of Mr Thos. Ashley.
Tuesday last, being the day appointed for the meeting of the District Committee of the Norfolk Association for Preserving the Lives of Shipwrecked Mariners, the usual experiments with Life Apparatus were made, and proved very successful in shewing as well with precision as expedition the mode of throwing the lines to gain communication with a stranded vessel, and conveying the sailors on shore. After which, the Committee adjourned to a future day, awaiting the arrival of the new Life Boat which is now in building for this station, the original Cromer Life Boat having been removed to Wells, where she has been approved of and thought better calculated for that harbour (where the Association during the last year has establishes another station) than the Cromer Beach. At twelve o'clock, according to advertisement, the Repository in aid of funds of the General Association was open, and crowded to excess during the day by throngs of purchasers, the receipts arising from which amounted to £88 5s. Every credit and the best thanks are due to the contributors, and particularly to those ladies who took upon themselves the trouble and arrangement of the sale, and we trust that their exertions were amply rewarded in the satisfaction of rendering assistance to this most excellent institution. In the afternoon boat races among the smaller fishing boats of the town took place, and afforded much amusement to the multitudes of spectators who thronged the cliff, beach, and jetty.
Thursday morning 12 o'clock - The gale is but little abated. A brig, coal laden, the Oak, of Shields, came ashore this morning at two o'clock, the crew saved, and is since become a total wreck. The Trent, of Shields, is now on shore with the master and part of the crew, five were lost about 10 o'clock, two miles from land, who took to the boat, and a tremendous sea swallowed them up. The master and remaining hands were saved by Cromer life-boatmen.
The life-boat was launched on Monday morning, in consequence of observing a dismasted vessel, in an easterly direction, in distress. She proved to be the brig, Achilles, of South Shields, with coals for London. She had carried away her main-mast, and fore-top-mast, in a squall, about half-past seven. The crew of the life-boat, by great exertions, succeeded in moving the vessel into Cromer roadstead, and brought the crew on shore about seven in the evening, nearly in a perishing state.
They went off again at daylight, and took a spell at the pumps, but the sea was making a passage over her and found her in a sinking state. She went down about 12 o'clock on Tuesday noon.
Captain Pank, in endeavouring to get on board the vessel, sustained a serious injury between the boat and the vessel by a lurch of the sea, but is now in a fair way of recovery.
On Friday the 1st inst. about noon, a vessel appeared off this place with signals of distress flying. The life-boat was quickly manned by an able crew, accompanied by Mr. Simons, the proprietor of the Bath House; and after a hard struggle through a tremendous cross sea they succeeded in getting alongside the vessel just as she struck the beach. She proved to be the Dutch Galliot Elizabeth Jacobi Tromp, bound from Memmel to Harlingen, laden with timber, and having a crew of 7 men, who were all brought safely to shore. They had been out 20 days from Memmel, had arrived within a short distance of their own port, and were just hoisting for a pilot, when the wind increasing to a hurricane drove them on our coast, and the ship being leaky they were obliged to run for the shore. The greater part of the cargo is saves; and lodged in Mr. Sandford's coal yard, but the vessel is gone to pieces. Great praise is due to the Cromer fishermen for their alacrity in manning the life-boat, the risk of her being dashed to pieces having been imminent in consequence of having had to round a breakwater. We rejoice to say that their exertions were attended with success. Lieut. Ross and his men were in prompt attendance on the beach with Dennett's Rockets, and fired two over the vessel before the life-boat reached her. An immense crowd of persons assembled on the beach to witness the landing of the boat. There were many visitors still in Cromer enjoying the autumnal sea breezes, although unfortunately the weather has been very boisterous lately, but the stormiest days have their enjoyments, for it appears to gave been, and was no doubt, an intense gratification to the friends of humanity to witness the rescue of their fellow creatures. The poor Dutchmen, much to the amusement of the persons assembled, testified their joy on landing by kissing each other and spectators indiscriminately.
The captain lies dangerously ill at the Red Lion Inn. He is unremittingly attended by Mrs. Webb, and it is hoped he will soon recover.
On the evening of Monday last the busy arrangements in the Yarmouth roads began to create a lively interest in the crowds assembled on the beach and jetty to witness the preparations for the regatta on the morrow, and this interest was much increased by the arrival in the course of the evening several of the life boats, which are stationed along the dangerous coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, with their hardy, intrepid, and vigorous crews.
On the following morning early, the excitement of the scene was redoubled by the activity of all about to take part in the enlivening amusements of the day. the public attention more particularly was drawn to the active preparations and admirable arrangements made by a committee of naval officers and gentlemen of the two counties, for the interesting and important trial of the life boats. These seemed to be the theme of every tongue. At nine a.m. under the direction of Captains Jerningham and Windham, commanding the coast guard districts of Yarmouth and Cromer, the whole of the crews of ten life boats, amounting to about 180 men, assembled at their rendezvous with a degree of order, regularity, punctuality, and attention, which could not have been surpassed by a body of the best disciplined men. It was impossible to look upon these men without feelings which only those who have witnessed their deeds, and the dangers and might which they have to contend, can imagine. While their proud and athletic forms afforded a strong proof of their powers when combined, their countenances indicated that stern but quiet determination which can alone carry them successfully through the brave and venturous attempts, and satisfied the spectator that upon their bravery he might place implicit reliance.
The activity and energy displayed by Captain Jerningham, the devoted interest he evidently felt, and the importance of the project he had in hand, the confidence that seemed to possess him in the certainty of establishing a universal sympathy in favour of the beachmen, and the precision and clearness which accompanied all the details of his arrangements, in which he was so ably assisted, was only equalled by the same energy, the same zeal, the same desire among all his coadjutors, for the success of an object as humane as it is generous, and one in which all the best feelings of our nature are called into play. Let those who have seen the anxiety which the horrors of shipwreck call forth, even in the personally uninterested, and then let them conjure up in their imagination what must be the agony of those whose wives, children, and friends are subject to such dangers, and there is none who will not, with ready generosity, offer their tribute to the aid of the families of those whose stretched-out arm in the hour of danger has preserved one of these dear connections, or whose children have perhaps become orphans in the attempt.
From this rendezvous the crews repaired to their respective boats, whose launching created great excitement, the crowd around pressing so closely as to render the operation of measuring the cables a matter of some little difficulty; this was ably super-intended and managed by Captain King. About eleven o'clock the ten boats had all been launched, their splendid crews in the highest spirits, and the crowds of spectators on the tiptoe of expectation. They were formed in line, parallel to the beach, with their heads out, the men resting on their oars; in front of them was the revenue cutter's six-oared galley, with Captain Jerningham on board. Her oars were tossed up, the whole of the crews simultaneously rose and gave three hearty cheers, which were re-echoed by the throngs lining the shore and Jetty, in the midst of which the galley shot along with the rapidity of a bird, the line of boats following with precision and regularity to their stations as appointed, where they anchored the five sailing boats, on the port beam of the Station Vessel, and the remaining five on the starboard beam, each company forming a good line and riding to 50 fathoms of cable. The respective coxswains of the boats were then assembled on board the Station Vessel, where they received instructions, and after clearly comprehending the nature of the contemplated evolutions, returned to their boats.
The sailing boats consisted of Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Pakefield, Southwold and Bacton vessels, had their masts stepped and their outriggers out, but on the coxswains' returning, the masts were got down and their oars laid within the gunwale.
These boats, with the exception of Lowestoft and Bacton, are fitted with air-boxes, and can be filled with water at pleasure by removing plugs. Lowestoft is fitted with empty barrels; Bacton is a flat-bottomed boat, with air-tight deck, the lower half of the vessel forming one large air tank.
SIR, - It is difficult to believe that a vessel should hoist a signal of distress off Cromer, and that the fishermen were unwilling to go to their assistance. Yet so it was in the storm of last Friday morning. One is tempted to ask whether the brave Christian spirit that risks much to save others, has really departed with Miss Gurney, and to exclaim, is she so soon forgotten. No crew could be found to man the life boat. The sailors on board the vessel could be seen with the glass - their peril was great - but it did not move the Cromer men to go to their aid. Persuasion and entreaty were of no avail, till at length a sum of money, offered by some of the relatives and connections of Miss Gurney, backed by the relenting of the wind and waves, induced the fishermen to put out in the life boat. One of those connections volunteered to accompany them, and he did so, but ere they reached the ship, her signal of distress was hauled down, the wind abated, and she got off, her crew refusing the tardy aid.
Many of the inhabitants and visitors of Cromer feel this event to be a disgrace in the annals of her fishermen. They would not go till they were paid.
Something, however, may be said in their excuse, and it is fair therefore to say it. The life boat has not been launched for a considerable time, so long, I am told, that it might be a question whether she were sea-worthy. There was no organisation amongst the men, no head, none of the unity which gives force and direction, and the certainty which accompanies discipline. These advantages cannot be got up impromptu. "We want," said a looker on, "a
Life boat crew ready for the occasion, as the fire brigade is ready in a city." I am not competent to pronounce what would be the cost of having the men thus prepared for any emergency, but it seems to me, that the fifteen pounds subscribed by those who stood by in despair at beholding their fellow-creatures perishing and no effort made to save them, would, with a very small addition annually, make the fishermen willing and ready.
There is no public memorial to commemorate the virtues of Miss Gurney. The only monument to her memory should be the endeavour to perpetuate her spirit. Could there be a better acknowledgement of her worth, than the formation of a crew at Cromer, who should periodically launch the life boat, and by this and other simple means, they would feel confidence in their united will add work; the spirit of enterprise would be kept alive, and the men would be less likely to wait to be paid before they went forth on a Christian errand.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
Cromer, October 27.
Norfolk new Life-boats - During the present week the Royal National Life-boat Institution has forwarded two of its first-class life-boats to the Norfolk coast, to be stationed at Cromer and Bacton. Both boats have had new transporting carriages built for them, so as to make them available for a considerable line of coast. A new house has also been built for the Bacton boat. The Cromer life-boat is 34 feet long - will self-right if upset, and will instantaneously self-eject any sea she ships. A harbour trial of the boats took place in London before she left for the coast, when their properties were satisfactorily exhibited, and when it was shown that 34 men were required to stand on the boat's gunwale before it could be put to the water's edge. The Bacton life-boat, which is 32 feet long, was similarly and satisfactorily tested on the same occasion. Both boats were sent to Yarmouth by the General Steam Navigation Company's steamers free of expense. The National Life-boat Institution has, also sent during the current year new lifeboats to Yarmouth, Winterton, and Palling, and it is stated that the society purposes to send an additional small lifeboat to Yarmouth as soon as the substantial new life-boat house, now in course of erection there, has been completed. It is not our object to refer here again to the late shipwreck calamity which occurred last week at Yarmouth, but we feel persuaded that after the National Life-boat Institution has thoroughly completed its establishment at Yarmouth it can still reckon with confidence on the beachmen of the place to assist it in carrying out its philanthropic objects, for we hardly need say that the best life-boats in the world are of little use in the absence of clear heads and strong arms to work them. It cannot also be too generally known that the National Life-boat Institution grants rewards, both in money and silver medals, to all parties, who risk their lives on shore and water to save or attempt to save life from wrecks. It is generally supposed that the society's rewards are confined to its life-bout crews. Such, however, is by no means the case.
We are informed that the late gallant Admiral Lord Exmouth, father of the present Dean of Norwich, who is a member of the committee of management, took great interest in the formation of the institution partly on that account, and that he was in the chair at one of the annual meetings of the society on one occasion now more than thirty years ago, when some of its gold medals were presented to parties for saving life from shipwreck. The society has now nearly 80 life-boats under its management, and it appears from parliamentary returns that its life-boats, with those of local parties, rescued 398 persons during the past year from a watery grave. 'The same documents tell us, however, that during the same period nearly 600 poor creatures lost their lives from wrecks around our coasts, and who can say how many of them might have been preserved to their families and country if a sufficient number of life-boats had been in the localities of the casualties?
Management of Boats in a Broken Sea - The Royal National Life-boat Institution has issued the following circular to it's branches in respect to the proper management of boats when running to the shore before a heavy broken sea, It is hoped that the boatmen of our coast, and particularly life-boat coxswains, will pay particular attention to the practical remarks contained in the circular:-
Although the proper management of a boat when running before a broken sea to the shore is well understood at many parts of our coast, yet as mismanagement or carelessness under such circumstances is still the cause of many boats being upset by "broaching to," the committee of the National Life-boat Institution think it important to call the attention of all their life-boats' crews to the cause of such accidents, and to the proper mode of preventing them as indisputably proved by experience. The cause of a boat's "broaching to" is the propelling her rapidly before the sea, whether by sails or oars, instead of checking her speed and allowing each successive sea to pass her on its approach. There is therefore extreme danger at all times in running a boat with speed before a heavy broken sea in shoal water. Excepting where the beach is steep, the safer management of a rowing boat in a really heavy sea is to back her, stern foremost, to the shore, keeping her bow pointed to the sea and propelling her slightly against each sea until it has passed her or is under her stern. If a boat is rowed to the shore with her stern to seaward, her oars should then be regularly backed, so as to stop her way on the approach of each wave, and way should not again be given until the wave has passed to the bow, and her position thereby be retained on the outer or safe side of the wave. This treatment runs exactly counter to the natural desire to get quickly over the apprehended
danger; but it is the only safe mode by which a boat can be taken to the shore before a heavy broken surf. RICHARD LEWIS Secretary.
This morning an alarming report has obtained circulation here that the Cromer lifeboat has been lost with 17 hands. It is stated that she went to the assistance of a disabled vessel and capsized through becoming entangled with her when alongside. It is earnestly to be hoped that this report may prove without foundation.
Two unknown vessels - put off to assist but services not required.
The Cromer life-boat put out to the assistance of the dismasted brig Wild Rose, of Brixham, and at the request of the master stayed by her for several hours, when two steam-tugs arrived to tow the vessel into Yarmouth harbour.
The Cromer life-boat put out to the assistance of the dismasted brig Wild Rose, of Brixham, and at the request of the master stayed by her for several hours, when two steam-tugs arrived to tow the vessel into Yarmouth harbour.
A Gallant Act - A few days ago the bullyboy Sutcliffe, of Harwich, was stranded about a mile to the southward of Cromer, in a north-east gale and a very heavy sea which had suddenly sprung up. The lifeboat of the National Lifeboat Institution on that station was in a dismantled state at the time, as she was in the course of being painted, and consequently some delay occurred before she was fit to be launched. Meanwhile, nearly all the fishermen and boatmen of this place had gone to the scene of the wreck with a view of rendering assistance in saving the crew by means of the rocket apparatus or otherwise, and when the lifeboat was ready to be launched it was discovered that there were not a sufficient number of boatmen to man her, and some difficulty was therefore experienced in forming a crew. However, foremost amongst those who volunteered to go off in the lifeboat was the Hon. Auberon Herbert, brother of Lord Carnarvon. As soon as the boat was launched she was struck by a heavy sea, which broke four of her oars, and drove her nearly broadside on the beach; some of the crew thereupon jumped out, squared the boat, and succeeded in getting her clear of the broken water. After a long pull through a very heavy sea the lifeboat arrived abreast of the wreck, but by this time the crew had been saved by rocket apparatus. The gallant services of Mr. Herbert are to be brought under the notice of the National Lifeboat Institution at its next meeting.
At Cromer, at daybreak, on Sunday a schooner came on shore about a mile to the southward of the lighthouse. The lifeboat of the National Lifeboat Institution stationed there was at once got out, and launched through a heavy sea, and soon reached the vessel, when it was found that she was a derelict. Shortly after the lifeboat arrived at the spot the schooner was struck by several heavy seas, which hove her head round so as to bring her broadside on to the sea, and, as she was lying on an outer ledge of rocks she soon fell over, and in about two hours very little of the wreck was to be seen. It is feared that the vessel struck on a shoal adjoining the Foulness Rocks, about a half-a-mile to the southward. The vessel was the schooner Hero, of Rye, Durrant master. Had the crew remained by their ship they would in all probability have been saved.
Reported the receipt of an additional 80l from BENJAMIN BOND CABBELL, Esq., F.R.S., which, with his previous contributions, made 1,000l that he had given to the Institution, to defray the cost of the complete renovation of the Cromer Life-boat Establishment, including the expense of new life-boat, transporting carriage, boat-house, slipway and extension of the sea-wall at that place.
Voted the Silver Medal of the Institution, and a copy of its vote inscribed on vellum, to the Hon. Auberon Herbert, in admiration of his gallant conduct in forming one of the crew of the Cromer life-boat of the Institution, when it was launched through a heavy surf, with the view of rescuing the crew of the sloop Sutcliffe, of Harwich, which was wrecked off Cromer in a gale of wind and very heavy sea on the 21st July last.
Voted the Silver Medal of the Institution, and a copy of its vote inscribed on vellum, to the Hon. Auberon Herbert, in admiration of his gallant conduct in forming one of the crew of the Cromer life-boat of the Institution, when it was launched through a heavy surf, with the view of rescuing the crew of the sloop Sutcliffe, of Harwich, which was wrecked off Cromer in a gale of wind and very heavy sea on the 21st July last.
Benjamin Bond Cabbell, Esq., of Cromer Hall, having lately presented to the National Life-Boat institution £1000, to be devoted to the purpose of providing a new life-boat with all the appliances, transporting carriage; and a boat-house, to be stationed at Cromer, on Friday last the new life-boat was launched, amidst assembled crowds of all classes, who came from all parts to witness its first entry into that element, on which, perhaps, it is destined in the future to play so important a part. The boat is built of Honduras mahogany, on the diagonal principal; is 33ft long, and 8ft 9in wide, and ships ten oars. She is a self-righting boat, and should she slip a heavy sea, although with her masts up, and her sails set, will clear herself in 25 seconds. Such is the new life-boat now placed in the hands of the Cromer beachmen; and we trust that they, with her aid, may be as successful in saving life as they have been hitherto been. Previous to the launch the following ceremony was gone through.
The Rev. F Fitch, the vicar of Cromer, read a letter from B.B. Cabbell, Esq., presenting to the National Life-boat Institution the life-boat and boat-house, and expressing his regret that the state of his health prevented him from attending and personally making the presentation.
Captain Ward, R.N., on behalf of the National Life-boat Institution, said that the Institution was one which could be supported by all classes of the people, whatever their political or religious principles might be. In the work of that institution all might join, it being a work of humanity alone, its whole duty being to save that life which the Almighty had given to men. That work was a national one, and rich and poor could aid, and they had aided them, for out of a number of 186 boats possessed by that institution, no less than 184 had been special gifts to it, some the gifts of communities, and others the gifts of private benevolent men, like the gentleman who had presented them with this boat and all its appurtenances. The institution, in placing that boat in the hands of the Cromer beachmen, were satisfied that it possessed all the appliances for safety that could be put into any boat. Like all other boats now sent out by the institution, it was a self-righting boat. When their former life-boat was first placed in their charge, that principle was ridiculed by many, and in some places, not far from Cromer, that principle was still subject to ridicule. But the institution had watched narrowly the working of the two classes of boats, and they had found that those which were not self-righting had lost eighteen out of every twenty that set foot in them, while those which were constructed on he self-righting principle had only lost one life out of every twenty-seven. Those facts perfectly satisfied the committee of management, in London, that the self-righting principle was the best, and they had accordingly stuck most determinedly to it. It was important for them to know that there was no boat yet constructed that would not upset when wind and sea were against it. Some of the boatmen standing around felt themselves naturally qualified to examine the boat and judge her, and would no doubt find fault with the width of her beam. They must satisfy themselves that if she had had greater beam given to her she would not have had increased stability. Another thing which was noticed was that the boat only carried ten oars instead of twelve. When they increased one thing in order to get perfection, they must immediately encroach upon another; and in giving the boat greater stability she was only enabled ten oars. He (Captain Ward) could assure them all that he had been out in boats like this on many occasions, and no safer boat could be placed in their hands (Cheers). The circumstances that led to the removal of the old boat, were that when she was brought there, the prejudices of the boatmen were excited against her by an old lady of, he should say, rather conservative tendencies who went about telling them that if ever they put their foot in her she would drown them. But he (Captain Ward) would tell the boatmen that he was confident that this, their new boat, would never drown anybody (Cheers). Not only had Mr Cabbell given them this splendid boat, but the old boat-house being rather dilapidated, he resolved to renovate the whole establishment, and accordingly presented the Institution with £1000 for the purpose of making everything as perfect as possible. (Loud cheers) in placing that boat on the Cromer coast, the Institution felt sure that the inhabitants would do their duty by supporting her (hear, hear) and that Mr Sandford jun., who had looked after the establishment for his father for some years would do, as he had hitherto done, everything for the efficiency of that establishment. (Hear, hear) He begged to express the thanks of the National Life-boat Institution to Benjamin Bond-Cabbell, Esq., for his munificent present. (Cheers)
Mr G.B. Sandford said he was sure that it must have taken the inhabitants of Cromer quite by surprise at receiving so magnificent a gift from Mr Cabbell. (Hear, hear) He was there to represent the Hon. Secretary, his father, who through ill health was unable to be present. During the time they had been engaged in looking after the establishment they had done their utmost to please; but, as was usually the case, they had not been able to please everybody. So now they had determined not to try and please anybody, but to continue to do their duty as secretaries of the institution; and he trusted they should have the charge of the new boat as long as they had had the old one. (Hear, hear) It was a very difficult position he held, for when he called a crew together, some would come to him and say, "Why did you not call me; I am as good as so-and-so;" and there again he could not please everyone. (Hear, hear) Besides giving this present to the town, Mr Cabbell had directed him to invite all fishermen in Cromer to a supper that night after the day's work was over. (Loud cheers) If any man was dissatisfied with what had been done, let him go the supper and there they could talk it over, and not disturb their work, as had been already done that day. (Hear, hear)
The Rev. F. Fitch offered up prayers suitable for the occasion, and the hymn "Eternal Father, strong to save" was sung.
The Lord Bishop of the Diocese then delivered the following address :- I have but few remarks to make, and they shall be as brief as possible; for we are all anxious to proceed with this interesting ceremony. Whether we estimate the great benefits which that boat we now see before us is intended to confer, or whether we examine its mode of construction, we cannot help admiring the munificence of its kind donor, only regretting that he cannot be here to witness this boat entering for the first time into the sea. I feel a difficulty in speaking on this occasion, knowing how many there are around me who know so well the use of such a boat. Although I cannot boast, as they can, of being an "old salt," or like them "spin a yarn," yet the lifeboat and lifeboat service must be a subject of great interest to a Christian minister. With the abundant gifts of God, science has been employed to discover means of saving life, genius to design, skill to adapt and construct, and money that supplies the sinews of war. All these are essential in producing what we see before us, that valuable life boat; and these gifts are seldom made by one man. He who is the giver of all disposes the hearts of men to his will, in order that they may feel their mutual dependence one upon the other. Our electric telegraphs, our railways, and even the Times newspaper are all witnesses to the faith we are viewing now before us. And if the life boat is of interest to a Christian minister, still more so is life boat service. I recognise in it one of the greatest principles set forth by Christ. I mean the spirit of self sacrifice. In manning the life boat, with all its appliances for salvation of life, there is to be found the spirit of self sacrifice. After we have launched this boat we shall have presented to our notice an example of what will at some future day take place on this shore; and although it will not be so exciting as a shipwreck would be, when these appliances would be used for the purpose of saving life, I think that, if we were now to witness a shipwreck on this coast, there is not one single heart here that would not be ready to cheer on the men in there efforts for the salvation and recovery of those lives that were in danger. No sooner would they be saved and the blessing be given, than the home, however distant, would be longed for, and there would be the return of the saved ones to the enjoyment of home - the result of many an effort in the life boat. And these are the great ends of those who are engaged in the great work of which I have been speaking, and I have often read and heard of men who have met their death in this work. There is before me, a Christian minister, in this life boat service, many a lesson of reproof and many a lesson of direction that would be profitably be studied by all. I am sure that whether it be in one or another calling of life, or whether it be the case of a man engaged in the life boat for the rescue of a fellow man from peril and danger, or the case of a Christian engaged in the work of saving souls from destruction, true courage is needed; and there is one thing that would give the truest courage to man, make his heart warm, his eye keen and give strength to his arm - and that is the persuasion in his own heart of faith in God as his Saviour, and whether it be in the life-boat or in the pulpit, without prayer for God's blessing, the effort will not succeed. In addition to the life-boat I see you have a fixed light on yonder hill, and if I understand that light aright, it is that it may prove a beacon of warning to vessels who may be off the coast. If the vessel disregards that warning, or is prevented from seeing it, it is brought into the very peril that it was warned to avoid, and then comes the cry for the life-boat and the earnest services of living men. And so have we Christians a fixed light, which is ever burning brightly in God's written word, which is a beacon of warning and tells us where to turn for safety. But instead of that light being followed by all, how many are driven from the path of safety into the path of peril; but I trust it will be more eagerly followed than it has been. The cry of distress is not always so heartily responded to as it ought to be; and I fear that the cry of the soul in distress is still less heartily responded to. This should not be so. The exertions of living men are called to rescue the dying ones from destruction and the call should always be eagerly met. I heartily pray that the Cromer's life-boat may never be without the right men to man her; and that Cromer's pulpit may never lack a clear exponent of that heavenly light; and that God's blessing may rest equally on those who are called to save the souls perishing on land.
The ceremony of christening was then performed by Miss Buxton, who, taking the bottle in her hand, dashed it against the bows, saying "I name this boat the Benjamin Bond Cabbell, and may God prosper her." The bottle was smashed into the minutest atoms, and this was the signal for a tremendous outburst of cheering on the part of all concerned, it being considered an omen of "good luck." When the cheering had subsided, eight horses were hooked onto the transporting carriage, the drag ropes were seized by a willing throng, and the "Benjamin Bond Cabbell" glided to the spot where she was first to touch the sea, on which it is to be hoped she may for years to come render good service.
On Thursday afternoon the schooner Alpha, of Sunderland, for Whitstable, with coal, was observed to the north-west of Cromer flying a signal of distress. There was at the time a heavy sea on, with a gale blowing from the north-north-west. At about half-past three the lifeboat was launched in the presence of a large number of spectators, who thronged the jetty and cliffs; but in consequence of the wind and very heavy sea she could make no headway. The ship was now being rapidly driven in towards the shore, and great alarm was felt for the crew. As soon as the vessel was near enough a rocket was sent to her by the Cromer Brigade, who had assembled on the beach in readiness. It was a splendid shot, going clean over the vessel. Unfortunately, however, the line got broken, and was therefore of no avail. Several more rockets were fired, but without success; and soon the Sheringham men (who did such good service on Monday night) arrived with their apparatus. Rockets were now sent out, first by one and then by the other, in rapid succession, but fell wide of the mark. Ultimately the Cromer men got a second shot over the vessel, and again the line was broken. It was low water when the vessel struck the beach, and the sea, dashing completely over her, was now making rapidly. The men, who were all together on the bowsprit, could be seen distinctly from the shore. The excitement was intense when it became known that all the rockets were spent, and there seemed no means of rendering assistance to those on board the doomed vessel, which had commenced going to pieces. The beach was strewn with portions of the wreck, amongst it being a piece with the name "Alpha" upon it. Soon both masts fell with a crash, and still the men were not saved. The ship at times was almost hidden by the breakers, which swept over her. Darkness coming on, lights were shown, and the ship being rid of her cargo was driven nearer to the beach. The men were heard calling for a rope, which, after a time, was taken out by a Cromer coastguardsman, named Davis; and at half-past seven one by one of the crew, five in number, were brought to the beach, amid the ringing cheers of the multitude assembled on the shore and cliffs. The men were taken to the Hotel de Paris and the Red Lion, where every care was taken with them. The captain's name is Alfred Reeve.
The Cromer fishermen are very dissatisfied with the lifeboat, and are complaining loudly about it. Their opinion is that she is not suitable for the requirements, being too heavy for the number of oars, and that it is impossible to row her against a strong wind. The boat is still lying on the beach where the men left her, after several fruitless attempts to row her to the wreck.
A meeting, summoned by Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Bart., on behalf of the local committee of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, was held at the Fishermen's room on Monday evening to consider whether the lifeboat at present in use at Cromer is fitted for the place, and if not to decide on one that would be. Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Bart., occupied the chair, and there were also present Captain the Hon. H. W. Chetwynd, RN (Chief Inspector of Lifeboats), T. Fowell Buxton, Esq., J.G. Barclay, Esq., J. Hoare, Esq., F. Hoare, Esq., H. B. Hans-Hamilton, Esq., Victor Buxton, Esq., Miss Buxton, Miss C. Burton, Mr Cooper, Mr W. G. Sandford, Chief-Officer Ellis (Coastguard), Mr James Mayes, Mr James Davies (coxswain), & c. The first part of the meeting was devoted to Coxswain Davies' account of the launching of the lifeboat on Thursday last to the rescue of the ill-fated ship, the Alpha, and to reviewing the events of the day. He explained that every effort was made to get the boat to sea, but without avail, it being utterly impossible to row her against such a strong wind and heavy sea as they had to contend against on that occasion. He thought the vessel was coming ashore abreast of the place, instead of which she came north. - After considerable discussion, Mr Mayes made some practical observations in reference to the present lifeboat, and concluded by saying it was a boat not at all adapted for the place. Captain Chetwynd said that, in regard to any report he might have to make to the institution on the efforts to launch the boat on the day in question, he was prevented dealing with that in public, as this was not a public inquiry. His opinion, however, would be known afterwards. As regarded the future, he entirely agreed with Mr Mayes that this boat was quite unsuited for the place. He was not now going into any arguments on the question as they hoped to meet the fishermen in the morning for that purpose, when he trusted to be able to bring before them convincing proofs that the "rolly-polies," as the fishermen were pleased to call the self-righting boats, were not such bad things after all. The great object of the National Lifeboat Institution was to give the men the very best possible machinery they could have, and also that they had most confidence in. at the same time the men must allow him to remind them that they had the experience of what was going on right round the coast as to the value of the different classes of boats. He hoped on the morrow to have a large meeting of the fishermen, and that the question would be thrashed out thoroughly. Some further discussion ensued, after which the meeting was adjourned till Tuesday morning at half-past ten, when there were present the majority of those mentioned above, and also the Rev. F. Fitch, J. H. Gurney, jun, Esq., and Richard Hoare, Esq.
Sir Fowell Buxton said he would ask them to remember that this was an adjourned meeting. They had met the previous evening specially to hear the whole story of what happened on Thursday last, and they need not take up the time of the meeting by going over it again. There had been a certain amount of discussion as to what it would be best to do in the future, and they were now met to decide on a boat they considered the most suitable for getting to sea in, of for moving on land. They were fortunate in having with them Captain Chetwynd, Chief-Inspector of Lifeboats, who would be ready to hear any remarks they had to offer, and also to make suggestions on his own behalf. It was extremely important that those who had the handling of a boat should have one they felt confidence in. (Hear, hear) here, and at many parts on the coast, there was a belief that a self-righting boat was easily turned over. He hoped it would be proved that it would be possible to have a boat as steady as any that was afloat, and yet if she upset she would right herself. He hoped all present would speak their minds openly and freely on the question. (Applause)
Captain Chetwynd wished to impress upon those present before they commenced the discussion that they, and the institution he represented, had one object in view, which was the saving of life from shipwreck. He would assure them, in the name of the institution, that they were prepared to hear without prejudice any observations that might be brought forward in reference to the question before them. They fully appreciated the good English pluck shown by the lifeboat men, and he repeated that their object was to give them the best machinery they could possibly have, and that in which they could have confidence. There was a little difference of opinion between them, and the best thing was to thrash the whole thing out. He was aware they were a little hard on the self-righting boats, which they called "rolly-polies;" but, in his opinion, they were the best. He was quite satisfied that their boat was not one suited for the place, and she must as soon as possible be replaced. (Applause) He understood there was a strong feeling on their part against the self-righting principle. He was in favour of it, and would like to hear what they had to say against it. Their boat was as stable, but heavier and not so good for pulling, as were the boats of the present day. He had the other day drawn out for the use of the jury of the Fisheries Exhibition the statistics of the number of services by the self-righting boats and the accidents that had happened to them from the time of their first introduction in 1853. This was exclusive of exercises, which take place four times a year. They had been launched for service 4050 times, and there had only been sixty-one capsizes - half of which had been attended with no accident, while there had been fifty-six or fifty-seven lives lost. The number of lives saved was 10,700 odd. They had never had an accident with one of their first-class boats which were 44ft by 11ft, 40ft by 10ft, and 37ft by 9ft respectively. Coming to the next class, which he would recommend for Cromer, there had been only one accident. Since he had been connected with the institution there had been several accidents, and some bad ones. But there had been only one accident to a lifeboat in the last four years that was not a perfectly preventable accident, and this never would have occurred if the prescribed regulations had been complied with and the proper precautions taken. Accidents generally arose from over-confidence in the boats, the men thinking they could do anything with them. The boat he proposed to send down, with her crew and gear in just as she would go out to service, it would take from 25 to 28 men sitting on the gunwale to bring her down to the water's edge, and she would not be upset then. The coxswain and one other representative could go to London and see and choose for themselves, and the institution would pay the expenses. (Applause) The boat he recommended would be 3ft longer than the one now in use, not quite so high, pulling two more oars, drawing 4in less of water, and having along the centre four tanks, with water vats which could put in or not as they liked. The present boat was straight, stem and stern. The one he was recommending was more in the form of a whale-boat, curved in the keel, much easier to turn in the sea, better to take the beach or to run off it. It had about 15ft of straight keel, was no heavier, and would have quite the stability of the present boat.
In answer to Mr Mayes, Captain Chetwynd said he thought the weight of iron on the keel of the Cromer boat was about 13cwt.
One of the fishermen suggested that they should not have a boat rowing less than 14 oars. The present boat had 10; the one recommended would have 12. The remark seemed to meet with general approval, another fisherman calling out, "We believe in oars."
Mr Mayes pointed out that one of the arguments against this boat was that there was not room in it to double-bank the oars. If they could get a boat where there would be room for this it would be best.
Mr James Davies, jun., thought 14 oars would be better than double-banking 12.
Captain Chetwynd said they had found by experience that it was far better that the men should have plenty of room for pulling than that they should be cramped by increasing the number of oars, and bark their knuckles against each other's belts. Twelve men with plenty of pulling room would do more than 14 closer together.
Mr Mayes said they would not be satisfied unless they could have a boat after the model of the Cromer old lifeboat, in use many years ago, which allowed the men to get right into he bows and right up into the stern. They believed in having a good broad boat, and were prepared to take their chance about its turning over. (Applause) If the institution sent the one down that had been recommended there would be as much dissatisfaction as there had been. It was a good thing the institution existed, but he believed there was influence enough in the town and neighbourhood to subscribe and have built the kind of boat they wanted.
Sir Fowell Buxton reminded Mr Mayes of the statistics which had been given.
Mr Mayes replied that Captain Ward, when he visited Cromer, brought forward figures to show the superiority of the self-righting over the old boats, and said there had been more loss of life with the latter than with the former; but he forgot that in the old boats they had no life-belts.
Mr Cooper said he gathered from Captain Chetwynd's remarks that the model of the boat he proposed send down would be very similar to that of the old lifeboat, which appeared to have been in such favour with the men. It would combine the advantage of self-righting with the other advantages the old boat possessed. There was a great dislike to a boat that would turn over, which the men considered dangerous, as it was hardly likely to upset without hurting somebody.
There being a general wish to see the model of the old lifeboat, a man was sent for it, Mr Savin, to whom it belongs, very readily lending it. The same model was exhibited at the Fisheries Exhibition at Norwich. As soon as the model arrived the fishermen exclaimed that it was the kind of boat they wanted. No one, however, was able to give dimensions.
Captain Chetwynd said there was a boat very similar to it on the coast at Sunderland.
After further discussion it was agreed to accept captain Chetwynd's offer, and James Davies (coxswain) and James Mayes were the men selected to go to London to see the boat, Captain Chetwynd remarking that they would not be obliged to have it if they did not like it, but any suggestions they had to make would be heard. The gentlemen present thinking it would be advisable to have a third man (whose expenses they offered to pay) to accompany the other two, Benjamin Blythe was chosen.
Mr Mayes thought it right to remark on the mistaken notions some people have in regard to a lifeboat. There were times, he said, when to go to sea would be madness.
Captain Chetwynd, in reply, said the Lifeboat Institution had decided for the future that in case of a boat not going off, if life was lost, a public inquiry should be held and the evidence published throughout the country. If the men were not to blame they would be protected. He was aware that shameful misstatements were often made, and the only way to do justice to the men and to the institution was to hold a public inquiry. (Applause)
The Rev. F. Fitch thanked the captain for these remarks, and said how pained he had been to hear some of the observations which had been made in reference to the events of Thursday. He instanced one or two of the foolish suggestions made for getting the lifeboat to sea. And as to the accusation that the Cromer fishermen were cowards, he had known them for many years and would state emphatically that they were not. (Applause) There being no further business the rev. gentleman moved a vote of thanks to Sir Fowell Buxton and to Captain Chetwynd for the kind and patient way in which they had listened to the opinions of the fishermen in reference to the subject they had met to discuss.
A meeting was held in the Reading-room at Runton, on Wednesday evening, to discuss the advisability of having a lifeboat stationed at that village. Sir Fowell Buxton, Bart., occupied the chair, and there was also present the rector (the Rev. W. W. Mills), B Bond-Cabbell, Esq., T. Wyndham Cremer, Esq., Lady Victoria Buxton, and Misses Buxton, Rev. G. Murton, Mr R. Wortley, and several fishermen.
The Chairman said they had met in order that they might talk over anything that might have arisen in their minds in reference to the recent gale and wreck between Runton and Cromer. He alluded to what took place on that occasion, and also to the meeting held at Cromer, where, with the help of Captain Chetwynd, the whole subject had been thoroughly gone into. Captain Chetwynd was very clear in his opinion, after having learnt the state of the wind and tide on that occasion, that no lifeboat could have got out from Cromer. It had been stated that had a boat been put out to the west, for instance, at Runton or Sheringham, the wreck could have been easily reached. He would like to hear from them what proposal they would make from their experience in the past, and especially after their experience of what took place on the occasion alluded to.
The Rev. W. W. Mills said, from conversations he had had with the men, he gathered that what they wanted was an inexpensive surf-boat, that could be easily managed and go out in any time of danger or of necessity. There were good plucky hearts in the village and men who would be ready to put their hand to the oar whenever occasion required. He was sure the men felt heartily what they had to say in regard to this subject.
Several of the fishermen present expressed their opinions that had there been a boat at Runton there would have been little difficulty in getting her to sea, and a rescue might have been speedily effected. The Cromer boat they said would have done well enough had the ship gone ashore to the right of them, but as it was she could do nothing. There
seemed a strong desire amongst the men to have a boat of their own.
Mr Cremer was of opinion that on this coast the heavy institution boats were utterly useless when most wanted. (Applause) They would do very wel1 where there was a harbour so they could be got out, and then yon might row them where you liked. He believed it was impossible to launch, with a heavy sea running, such boats as were
stationed at Cromer and Sheringham, which were a great deal too heavy. He thought something in the style or a 20-feet boat, fitted up like a lifeboat, was heavy enough for men to got out and launch to sea. The sooner these heavy boats were changed for something they could use the better.
William Lake said that at Yarmouth, Gorleston, Caister, and other places on the coast, the men would have nothing to do with the heavy institution boats. They didn't believe in them. He would like to see at Runton such a boat as could be got to sea when an institution boat couldn't. (Applause)
Sir Fowell Buxton having explained to the meeting that Captain Chetwynd had examined the approaches to the beach at Runton and Sheringham suggested the probability of their gangway being improved so as to admit of the Cromer and Sheringham boats being launched at Runton.
Mr. Bond-Cabbell said if it was the wish of the Runton fishermen to have a lifeboat be would be glad to assist them. He thought it right they should have a boat of their own. (Applause)
The Rev. W. W. Mills made a point of what he considered a strong argument in favour of a boat for Runton, which was that from various causes a lifeboat could be got out from the Runton Beach when it would be impossible to launch one from Cromer. 'The subject having been fully discussed it was unanimously resolved on the motion of the Rev. W. W. Mills that it was advisable to establish a lifeboat at Runton.
The Chairman said he would be happy to communicate their wishes to the Lifeboat Institution, who he was sure, were anxious to do al1 they could for the saving of life at sea. Having asked the men to give him some idea of the dimensions of the boat they would require, the following description was elicited:- to be about 12 or 13 feet beam, to row seven oars a side (eight if possible), to be 30 feet long, flat in her bottom, and springing at each end so as to draw as little water as possible.
A vote of thanks was passed to the Chairman, on the motion of the Rector, who said he had always found Sir Fowell ready to do what he could for the welfare of the parish.
It will be remembered that a meeting held at Cromer a short time ago it was decided that the lifeboat at present in use there should be superseded by one more suitable to the place, and three fishermen were selected to undertake a visit of inspection to the store-yard of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution at London, and, if possible, to decide on a boat to take the place of that which it had been decided to remove. The men having returned from their visit, a meeting was held on Friday morning at the Fishermen's Room, for the purpose of hearing the report. Sir T.F. Buxton, Bart., was in the chair, and there were also present the vicar (Rev. F. Fitch), J.H. Gurney, Esq., R.H.J. Gurney, Esq., T.F. Buxton, Esq., Joseph Hoare, Esq., Richard Hoare, Esq., Alfred F. Buxton, Esq., the Misses Buxton, the Rev. G. Murton, Mr. Cooper, &c. It was regretted that there was almost an entire absence of fishermen, who it appeared were engaged herring catching. Some of the gentlemen present, however, seemed of the opinion that the men had purposely avoided the meeting. In response to the Chairman, Coxswain Davies was the first to address those present. He said when in London they had looked at several ten-oared boats, and there was what he considered a very nice boat having twelve oars. It was about 37ft long and 8ft 9in beam. [In a boat 38ft long they could not get seven oars aside properly.] The bottom of the boat was similar to the one now in use, but she was longer, would not draw so much water by three or four inches, and carried two more oars, that is twelve. - Mr. Hoare: A twelve oared boat is it? The men here said they wanted fourteen. - Davies replied they could not get seven oars aside without knocking their hands. - Rev. R. Fitch: Do you think the boat you saw is a better boat than his? - Coxswain Davies: A great deal better, as she would not draw so much water, and has two more oars. - In answer to Mr. Richard Gurney the Coxswain said that the present boat had ten oars. - Mr. Mayes said he regretted that he did not, when in London, make note of the dimensions of the different boats inspected; he had, however, since written to the Institution, and received the following letter, which was read by the chairman:-
Royal National Lifeboat Institution,
14 St. John's Street, Adelphi, London W.C.
Mr. James Mayes: Dear sir - In the absence of Captain the Hon. W.H. Chetwynd, R.N., Chief Inspector of Lifeboats, I am instructed to reply to your letter of the 16th instant, respecting the dimensions of the lifeboat you and the coxswain appeared most to approve of on your visit of inspection to our store yard on Friday, the 12th October. The boat in question is 37ft long, 9ft broad, and 4ft 2in deep, to underside keel amidships, with raking stem and stern post, a straight keel 8in deep (wood and iron), and has two outside hollow fenders 4½ in wide and 12in deep, and rows twelve oars double banked.
The dimensions of the boat proposed to suit your beach would be - Length 37ft, breadth 9ft, and depth 3ft 11in to underside keel amidships. Two hollow outside fenders 6in wide by 15in deep (if preferred to the 4½ by 12). To row twelve oars double banked. The keel to curve from 6ft each side the centre or midship section of the boat, forward and aft, leaving only 12ft of straight keel in the centre of the boat. The keel to be 6in deep, wood and iron; this is 2in less than the boat that you inspected, and the depth amidships will be 3in less on the whole. The stem and post will have 3ft 6in to 3ft 8in rake, so that the wood keel will not exceed 29ft on the curve. (Here is given a sketch of the curve). Any further information required I shall be glad to furnish. - I am, yours faithfully,
Josh. Prowse, Surveyor of Lifeboats.
Mr. Mayes having been asked for his opinion in regard to the boat referred to, said that several improvements had been made in the self-righting boats, and he also stated that Captain Chetwynd suggested the fishermen should try this boat for two years, at the end of which time, if it did not come up to the requirements, it would be withdrawn, and they would, as far as could be, meet the ideas of the fishermen. He thought that a very favourable offer, although he would not move that it be accepted, as the fishermen generally ought to have a voice in the matter. The curve of the boat was not as he thought like a whale-boat, turned up suddenly. But she was supposed to turn easier in the water, and was better for taking the beach or going off. The men always argued that the curved keel in the old boat was a good qualification. - Mr. Cooper said it appeared to him that the boat proposed was calculated to possess the advantages of the old boat, with the further advantage of being self-righting which should be the boat for Cromer. - Benjamin Blythe, who saw the boat with the other men, said she was like the one they had, no use for this beach, and they couldn't row her. Suppose they were rowing abroadside and saw a big sea coming, and wanted to turn her to meet it, they couldn't do it, because she was too straight on the keel. They wanted a boat to row seven oars aside at least, eight if possible. He had been in the old boat many times, but there was never a time they couldn't row her. - Mr. J. Hoare thought it useless discussing the question of a boat with eight oars aside, as he gathered from Captain Chetwynd's remarks on the subject that the institution would not supply one. - Blythe replied that the fishermen ought to be the best judges as to what they wanted. It was strength they wanted to row a boat against a strong wind, and the more oars the better. - Mr. Mayes pointed out that they would require a very large boat indeed to row eight oars, and to be built on the self-righting principle. - Coxswain Davies and Mr. Mayes were both in favour of giving the boat a trial, but Blythe thought it would be useless having it down at all. He believed nobody would go in her. - Mr. T.F. Buxton said it seemed impossible as yet to come to any resolution in regard to the matter, and suggested that the best thing would be for the fishermen to meet entirely by themselves and argue the question out. It was no use having a boat they would not go in, at the same time it was very important they should have one suitable for this place. - The Chairman said it appeared to him that the fishermen did not wish to meet them, so that they must have a meeting by themselves. - Edmund Rix asked Blythe for his opinion about the self-righting principle. - Blythe replied "We want as boat that won't turn over." (Laughter) - Mr. J. Hoare thought the made had made up their minds not to have this boat. It was therefore useless talking about it. - Blythe said the men would go with good heart and with plenty of pluck in a boat they liked, but not in one they had no confidence in. Their old boat never drowned a man.- Mr. Gurney suggested getting the two schemes out on paper and letting the fishermen decide the question by majority. - The meeting, after some further discussion, was adjourned till Monday morning at 10 o'clock.
An adjourned meeting to take into consideration the offer of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to supply a new boat to take the place of that now in use at Cromer was held in the Fishermen's Room yesterday morning, and brought together a large attendance. There were present - Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Bart.(Chairman of the Local Committee), in the chair; the vicar, the Rev. F. Fitch; Francis Buxton, Esq., M.P., and the Hon. Mrs. Buxton, J.H. Gurney, Esq., T. F. Buxton, Esq., Joseph Hoare, Esq., H.B. Hans-Hamilton, Esq., Richard Hoare, Esq., Alfred F. Buxton, Esq., Miss Buxton, Miss R. Buxton, Miss L. Buxton, the Rev. G. Murton, Mr. Cooper, Mr. W. G. Sandford, and a good muster of fishermen.
Sir Fowell Buxton said he would only remind them that they had met simply to give an answer to a question. The Lifeboat Society agreed with them that the present boat was not the one most suited for this coast, and they were ready to take it back; but they asked the question whether they would like to have a boat such as they had shown to Coxswain Davies and those who accompanied him on the visit of inspection to the store-yard of the society, or whether they would prefer one of an older fashion such as had been referred to at their previous meetings. Sir Fowell reminded the fishermen that the Institution had given their advice in this matter, which certainly ought to be worth something, and he deemed it only fair courtesy that an answer should be returned to their letter as soon as possible. He hoped the fishermen would have met the other day (Friday) to hear from those who went to London what report they had to make of their visit. They saw a boat there very different to the one in use at Cromer and far more suited to this coast. Coxswain Davies spoke highly of it, and Mr. Mayes was also in favour of giving it a trial for two years, in accordance with the offer of the society, who proposed to give the boat on the understanding that the Cromer fishermen should try it for that period, and then, if they did not like it, the society would take it back and supply one after the style, perhaps, of the Augusta at Sheringham, which appeared to accord with their ideas more than any boat along the coast. The proposal of the society was a very generous one, and all they wanted was a straightforward answer. If they were in favour of receiving this boat they would be at perfect liberty to say at the end of two years whether they would keep her or exchange her for another. Captain Chetwynd, he was sure, made that proposal with the full approval of the Committee of the Lifeboat Society, and there would be no fear about it being fully carried out. The Chairman then read the letter (printed in our Saturday's issue), giving the dimensions of the boat proposed for Cromer.
Mr. Mayes remarked that when he went to London he was very cautious not to be prejudiced or biased in any way. He was afraid, however, there had been some misunderstanding in this matter. Blythe, at their last meeting, conveyed the idea that the boat they inspected was like the one they had, which was not the case. It was decidedly better, but they wanted two more oars. The draughtsman was there when the observation was made about requiring two more oars, and it was shown that no alternation could be made in that sized boat to make provision for additional oars. It would be dangerous and impracticable. They had always said "Give us a boat not calculated to turn over and we are prepared to take our chance;" but taking into consideration the qualifications of this boat, it being wider, curved in the keel (which the men always made a point of, as they were thus better able to turn the boat round), and having twelve oars double banked - taking this into consideration and the terms on which the boat was offered, were a proposition made to accept it for the time named he would willingly support it.
William Kirby - asked Mr. Mayes whether if he had his way he would accept the boat alluded to in preference to one built after the model of the old lifeboat.
Mr. Mayes - That is not the point. The model of the old boat I admire; but you must understand the old boat was not a self-righting one.
William Kirby - But, according to the statements made, we are to have a boat that will suit us best. If the fishermen like the old boat, why should they not have one after that model? She gave perfect satisfaction to our fathers before us, and why not to us? (Applause)
Mr. Mayes said he had made his statement, and it was not for him to decide in the matter. The fishermen were there, and must speak for themselves. The boat it was proposed to send down could be fathered on to the society if, after trying it, it was not found to answer. He repeated that he admired the old boat, but she was not self-righting. (A Voice - "They are no use after they've killed people.")
Mr. Mayes admitted that the old boat was better adapted for rowing than the one proposed; but some improvements would have to be made in the old boat to suit them. They had better take the boat offered for two years (A Voice - "She may never be wanted to go to sea in the time.")
John Kirby thought the boat proposed hadn't beam enough, and said some of their "old twenty-foot boats" had as much.
After a warm discussion, in which many present engaged in pretty freely,
Mr. Sandford said there was a model at the institution of the boat, the men were contending for, and which he had for years considered was the kind of boat that was wanted. It was the one most suitable for the place, and would be no difficulty whatever in getting it. (Applause) their Cromer model (in possession of Mr. Savin), was not, in every respect, like the old boat. The exterior was right, but the interior did not correspond. They had in the committee-room of the institution one exactly like it. In continuing his remarks, Mr. Sandford asked whether it was not a fact that a self-righting boat rarely turned over without killing some of the men, and if not killed it was seldom that they were able to get back into the boat again. From his experiences of the men, and the views he had heard them express, he was confident they would rather trust their lives in a boat such as they were now contending for than in one built on the self-righting principal. He was against having the bulkheads above the gunwale, and instance a case which occurred in Cromer, in which a man jumping from the ship into the lifeboat came into contact with the bulkhead and fell overboard.
The Chairman called attention to Captain Chetwynd's figures, namely, that the self-righting boats had been launched 40,050 times for service, and there had been only about 50 lives lost.
The subject having been further discussed, George Rook, fisherman, proposed, and William Kirby, another fisherman, seconded, that they should ask for a boat after the model of the Cromer old lifeboat.
Mr. Gurney thinking this was not explicit enough, suggested the addition of the words - "in accordance with the model preserved in the committee-room of the institution in London." This having been inserted, the resolution was put to the meeting and carried with acclamation.
Sir Fowell said as chairman of the Local Committee he should take upon himself to reply to the letter which had been read, and he would take care that their views in this matter should be fully and clearly represented. (Applause)
The Rev. F. Fitch, in proposing a vote of thanks to the chairman for the time he had given and the great interest he had taken in this question, said he was glad to see so many fishermen present, and to hear them give out their opinion in the way they had done. Should they get the boat they asked for he was sure they would behave as they had always done - like brave men - and go out in her whenever occasion required.
Mr. Hans-Hamilton seconded the resolution, which was heartily carried.
In regard to the proposed new lifeboat for Cromer, we have to report that with the aid of Mr Prowse, Surveyor of Lifeboats, who paid a visit to Cromer on Tuesday, the 27th November, a decision has at length been come to in reference to the dimensions, & c., of the boat to be built for this station. We should state that Mr W. G. Sandford received a letter from Captain the Hon. H. W. Chetwynd, RN, Chief Inspector of Lifeboats, dated the 22nd ult., stating that he had instructed their surveyor, Mr Prowse, to proceed to Cromer on the following Tuesday to go into details in connection with the new lifeboat asked for by the leading fishermen of that place. That gentleman arrived accordingly on Tuesday, the 27th ult. The meeting in the morning however, produced no result, as many of the fishermen were at sea, and therefore unable to attend. At Mr Sandford's suggestion the meeting was adjourned till eight o'clock in the evening, when they were present - Mr James Davies, Mr James Mayes, Mr Thomas Blogg, and other leading fishermen. The alterations to the former resolutions passed in respect to the new boat were as under:-
"That the proposed Cromer new lifeboat shall be of the form and have the same rack of stem and stern-post, as the model which is said to represent the original Cromer lifeboat."
"That the length shall be thirty-four feet, breadth ten feet, depth inside four feet, and shall be clench-built and copper fastened, with a flat keel five inches wide and four inches deep, with half-inch iron keel plate, and a belt of cork as shown in a photograph of the old boat (one of which was fortunately produced at the meeting)."
"To row fourteen oars double-banked, and be fitted with one mast and a dipping lug-sail. The oars to row in rowlocks formed in wood chocks fitted on the gunwale, and to be steered by a rudder, or sweep oars, as shall be required."
"That it shall have a water-tight deck, with copper tubes and self-acting valves for the relief of water, and ventilating hatches."
"That it shall have portable air-tight cases round the sides of the boat, between the deck and the thwarts, two feet wide, and one at each end of the boat, three feet long, at twelve inches below the gunwale."
"That it shall have air-cases packed with cork, to be placed under the deck in the wings of the boat, and the remaining space to be filled with air-tight cases and other internal fittings, and other equipments required, or so shall be directed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution."
We would only add to the above that the Institution determined in every possible way to listen to any suggestions of the fishermen that were at all feasible, and it is hoped that the Cromer fishermen will now feel that full justice has been done to them in regard to this matter.
The new life-boat, just built for this station, arrived yesterday morning, having been towed from Yarmouth by steamtug. She was placed in the boat-house in the afternoon, when the old boat was removed and taken to the railway station. The work of getting the old boat up the gangway was watched with considerable interest, nineteen horses being required for the purpose. The inauguration and launch of the new boat will take place on Monday next at two o'clock. Edward Birkbeck, Esq., M.P. (Vice President and Chairman of the London Committee of Management) will be present, and Mrs. Bond-Cabbell of Cromer Hall has kindly consented to name the new boat.
The town of Cromer was all astir on Monday, the day appointed for the inauguration and launch of the lifeboat just built for this place. At the Coastguard-station there was a large display of bunting, and on either side of the boat-house there was a long reach of flags, extending on one side to the Coastguard-station and on the other to the Crescent, the residence of Mr Sandford, the roof of the boat-house being also covered with flags, the whole making a very effective display. The event occasioned much interest, the schools giving a half-holiday and business was in a measure suspended. At one o'clock a luncheon was given by Mr Hoare, at Cliff House, to many of the ladies and gentlemen who had come to Cromer to witness the day's proceedings. Among the guests were Edward Birkbeck, Esq., M.P.(Vice-President and Chairman of the London Committee of Management), and the Hon. Mrs. Birkbeck, Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Bart., Lord and Lady Westbury, Mrs. Bond-Cabbell, Admiral Corbett, RN, H.R. Upcher, Esq., Rev. F. Fitch and the Misses Fitch, Victor F. Buxton, Esq., Commander G.C.C. Carter, RN, W.G. Sandford Esq.,(Hon.Sec. and Treasurer to the Local Committee), P.E. Hansell, Esq., and many others. Shortly before one the boat was taken down to the Beach manned by the crew, when successful photographs were taken by Mr. T. Mack of this place. Photographs were also taken by Mr. George Newman of the Norwich Photographic Company, Queen Street. As two o'clock approached spectators began to muster, their numbers increasing rapidly, and soon the Cliffs were lined and the Beach crowded with sightseers. The Cromer Band was in attendance.
Many of our readers will doubtless remember the circumstances which led to the building of the new boat. It may not, however, be out of place to refer briefly to them here. On the 4th of October last, a day which will be long remembered by many, the schooner Alpha was observed in a helpless condition trying to gain the shore. There was a heavy gale at the time, and the lifeboat was called out, but all efforts to row her to the unfortunate vessel were fruitless, wind and tide being contrary. The events of that memorable occasion are well known, and need no repeating; suffice to say, that there was a general outcry against the lifeboat, and a determined resolve to have her replaced by one more suitable, the necessity of which was fully recognised by the Lifeboat Institution. After a series of meetings, at which the matter was thoroughly discussed, and in which the men had the assistance and advice of Captain the Hon. H.W. Chetwynd, Chief-Inspector of Lifeboats, and of Mr Prowse, the Surveyor, a decision was come to in reference to the dimensions and construction of the boat to be built for this station, the result being that the fishermen, disregarding entirely the self-righting principle, now have a boat after the style of the old one stationed at Cromer previous to 1858, which was a great favourite with the men, as many of the old fishermen testify. They say "Give us a boat not calculated to turn over and we are prepared to take our chance." It remains for time to prove with what success the old model has been reproduced; at all events the boat now provided appears to be a good and suitable one. She is 35ft in length, and rows fourteen oars double-banked, being four oars more than the former boat. The men at the inquiry contended strongly for oars, and have got what they asked for. There are no "drum-head" air-tight compartments above the gunwale, as in the former boat, these being kept down as much as possible, thereby enabling the men to get clear to stem and stern of the boat.
A platform covered with flags was erected near the stern of the boat, and chairs provided for the convenience of those specially interested in the proceedings. Amongst the party present were Sir T.F. Buxton, Bart. (in the chair), Mr Edward Birkbeck, M.P., Dowager Lady Buxton, Mrs. Bond-Cabbell, Mr Benjamin Bond-Cabbell and Mrs. B. Bond-Cabbell, lord and Lady Westbury, Mr H.E. Buxton, and Mrs Buxton, Miss Buxton, Miss Catherine Buxton, Mr S. Hoare, Mr J.G. Barclay, Mr J.H. Gurney, Mr J.H. Gurney, jun., and Mrs Gurney, Mr R.J.H. Gurney, Mr John Gurney and Mrs Gurney, Captain Jameson and Mrs Jameson, Mr H.B. Hans-Hamilton and Mrs Hans-Hamilton, Mr V.F. Buxton, Mr H.R. Upcher and Mrs Upcher, Rev. F. Fitch and the Misses Fitch, Rev. W.W. and Mrs Mills, Rev. J.C. Girling and Miss Girling, Rev. W. Bosworth, Rev. Morris Fuller, Rev. H. Marsham, Admiral Corbett, Mr G. Palmer, Hon. Harbord Harbord, Mr G.W. Sandford, Mrs Cremer, Mrs H. Birkbeck, Miss Blake, the Misses Hoare, the Misses Ketton, the Misses Sandford, Mrs Moncrieff, Mrs Forbes Eden, Mrs C. Fitch, Mrs Rust, Mr William George Sandford, Miss Stracey, Miss Tomkinson, Mr and Mrs Rostron, Mr P.E. Hansell, Mr James Cooper, Mr F.O. Taylor, Messrs. Miller (sons of Mr H.B. Miller), the Misses Miller (Norwich), Dr Sponge, Mr J.B. Pearce, Mr James Gunton, Mr and Mrs W. Mayhew, Mr S. Linay, Mr George Breese, Superintendent Boutell of the county police, &c. All arrangements were admirably carried out under the superintendence of Mr Sandford and Commander Carter.
Sir Fowell Buxton said - Ladies and gentlemen, and fishermen of Cromer : It seems to be hardly a year ago since a good many of us were meeting in reference to the lifeboat which we then had for this beach. We shall all remember to-day how the incidents of that occasion led to a good deal of inquiry and consideration in Cromer, as well as a good deal of inquiry on the part of the Lifeboat Society, the upshot of which inquiries is that we have before us a new boat. (Hear, hear) In the first place, I think we ought to acknowledge that we are very deeply indebted to the Lifeboat Society for their kindness in meeting the views of the seamen of Cromer, for thoroughly entering into all the difficulties that belong to our beach, and for carefully going into every question and consideration which might be brought to bear upon the subject, willing to waive any feeling they might have in favour of the old form of boat, and bestowing upon us a boat which they believe to be more in accordance with the views of those who may be called upon to go out in her. (Hear, hear) We shall all be ready to consider very carefully and somewhat critically the virtues and qualities of the boat; at all events we shall be ready to feel that we are very deeply indebted to the society for their kindness which they have shown, and for the generosity which has led them to bestow upon us this beautiful piece of workmanship. (Applause) I went to the yard at Yarmouth to see this boat when it ws near completion. There were other boats in the yard, and I could not help observing that they were all built upon the lines of this one. I am sure we shall all agree in expressing our heartiest good wishes to the success of this boat - (applause) - and we shall all - those who look upon her, and those who may go in her - we shall all endeavour so to use her, so to watch her, and give her every opportunity, that she may prove a credit to Cromer and to the society which has given her to us. (Cheers) I am very glad to know the society is here represented in the person of their chairman, Mr Edward Birkbeck, and in wishing well and thanking the society we thank him as representing the society. We are glad to have him here today so as to have the opportunity of hearing some advice, which, coming from him, will come with all the weight that belongs to the Chairman of the Royal Lifeboat Society. To him we wish to extend our thanks to-day, and you will agree with me in being glad that he is present amongst us (Cheers)
Mr Birkbeck having expressed regret at the absence of the President, the Right Hon. Lord Suffield, said - I will, with your permission, make a few observations in addition to the remarks made by my best friend Sir Fowell Buxton. I am glad to see the institution is represented to-day, in addition to the chairman, by my friend Admiral Corbett and another able member of the committee, Mr Palmer, both of whom are in engaged in carrying out the good work of life-saving entrusted to our care. We have to take into consideration the requirements of every station round the coast, and while giving every question our earnest consideration, and thinking of the brave men who risk their lives in saving their fellows in distress - (Cheers) - we have also to take into account and to give the very utmost consideration to a generous public who entrust their funds to our committee. We have also to provide for the most rapid and safest means of communication with those vessels in distress at such a distance from the shore that they cannot be reached by rocket apparatus. And here I will say that the Lifeboat Institution have always worked hand-in-hand with the rocket apparatus. (Hear, hear) We recognise that fact that it is most important to provide a boat that will always ready at the first sound of alarm to man our boats, whatever the weather may be, and proceed to the rescue of their fellow seamen in distress. (Cheers) I will call your attention to a new practice the Lifeboat Institution has taken up. Where there exist in any locality certain difficulties or differences of opinion in regard to a lifeboat we have made up our minds to hold public inquiries, so that we may hear fairly all views and endeavour to arrive at the best decision we can. When our Chief-Inspector (Captain Chetwynd) came to Cromer to hold an inquiry I sent him a telegram that it was our wish that the Cromer fishermen should have a boat which they thought most suited for their coast. If they did not like a self-righting one, they should have one that they thought best. Our fleet at present numbers 279 boats, of which 257 are self-righting. The coast of Norfolk has 15 boats, and only one other county has as many, and that is Yorkshire. One station on this coast the institution may well be proud of, and that is Caister, which runs neck-and-neck with the Ramsgate station. They have run a neck-to-neck race in the noble work of saving life. Speaking about the institution I may say that the store yard and everything connected with it is in the most perfect state of efficiency. We have now started a fund for the widows and orphans of gallant men who in the attempt to save their fellow-men lose their own lives, and I commend it to all who are desirous of supporting this institution. I would express our earnest and most grateful thanks to the local committee for the assistance they have rendered in this matter. Cromer has the advantage of a very energetic agent, Mr Sandford (Honorary Secretary and Treasurer), and the institution is proud of having one who works so hard for it.
With regard to the expense of the boat, the late Miss Ann Egdell of Alnwick, left a legacy to provide two boats, one of which was placed at Holy Island, and we thought we could not do better than build the other for Cromer. The lady did not direct that it should bear any special name, and as a new name will be given to the boat just removed from here, we decided that this boat should bear the same name, Benjamin Bond-Cabbell. (Cheers) In officially and formally presenting the boat to the town of Cromer I would express the earnest hope that she will give the completest satisfaction to the crews who may take her to sea. I hope they will prove themselves gallant men, and that at the first signal or sound of alarm not one crew, but many round here may respond to the call of duty, and, according to the old plan, "first come first have the jackets". (Loud cheers)
Mr Birkbeck then called upon Sir Fowell to present the boat to the Cromer station, who before doing so called upon the Rev. F. Fitch, who offered up the prayer, "Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings," and read a special prayer for occasions of this kind.
Mr S. Hoare next addressed the gathering. He said they would all be wanting to see this beautiful boat slipping into the sea, and would rather see it than be listening to more speeches. He had great pleasure to perform, in which all in Cromer would join, and that was to ask Mrs Bond-Cabbell to name the boat before being launched. They must all remember how indebted they were to the late Mr Bond-Cabbell for his liberality in supplying the funds for a boat, and in building a station for her. And now when it seemed desirable to change the boat they were glad it would go into the sea under the auspices of Mrs Bond-Cabbell, and bearing a name which they so much regarded. He then thanked Sir Fowell for occupying the chair on this occasion. They were also deeply indebted to the society for giving them so good a boat, and to Mr E. Birkbeck for coming down that day. As an inhabitant of Cromer he expressed earnest hope that this boat would answer the expectations of the builders, and when called into active service would do such gallant work that the society would be proud of it. Allusion had been made to the Rocket Brigade. As captain of the brigade he might say how glad they would always be to work with the lifeboat crew, and whenever occasion required their services he hoped they would all be found ready to do their duty. They would not forget the kind wishes expressed and he prayer of their good vicar on this occasion, which would encourage them in the hour of duty to go forward, feeling confident that all would be well. (Cheers)
Mr Benjamin Bond-Cabbell said it gave his mother and himself great pleasure in launching this boat, especially as it bore the name of Benjamin Bond-Cabbell. They felt deeply sensible of the honour conferred on them by the society in allowing this boat to bear the old name, and he begged to thanks them all on behalf of his mother and himself.
There was an immense concourse at this stage of the proceedings, and the scene presented was a most striking one, the cliffs and beach being thronged with spectators, who watched the proceedings with the deepest interest and attention.
Mrs Bond-Cabbell then broke a bottle of claret over the boat, which was pulled to the water's edge and glided gracefully from its carriage amid hearty cheers of the spectators and the ringing church bells, the band at the same time playing "Rule Britannia." There were on board, in addition to the crew, Sir Fowell Buxton, Mr E Birkbeck, Captain Carter, and Mr Sandford. The crew rowed at a good pace several times backward and forward in front of the town, and to all appearance the boat behaved admirably. A rougher sea would have increased the interest of the occasion. We would add that the boat was built by Messrs. Beeching of Yarmouth, the following being a description of her construction :- Length 35ft, breadth 10½ft, depth inside 4ft; clench-built and copper-fastened, with a flat keel 5in wide and 4in deep; with ½in iron keel plate and a belt of cork, as shown in a photograph of the old boat. Rows fourteen oars double-banked, and is fitted with one mast and dipping lug sail. The oars are rowed in rowlocks formed in wood chocks fitted on the gunwale, and the boat is steered by a rudder or sweep-oars, as required; has a water-tight deck, with copper tubes and self-acting valves for the relief of water, and ventilating hatches; portable air-tight cases round the sides of the boat, between the deck and thwarts, 2ft wide, and one at each end of the boat, 3ft long, at 12 inches below the gunwale. Air-cases, packed with cork, placed under the deck in the wings of the boat, the remaining space being filled with air-tight cases and other internal fittings as were found necessary. The weight of the boat is 4½ tons. She draws 18 inches of water clear of ballast. It should be added that the institution determined in every possible way to listen to the views and suggestions of the fishermen, and it is hoped they have been successful, and that the new boat will give every satisfaction.
Thanks are due to the chief-officer (Mr Ellis) and his men for erecting the platform, and for making such an excellent display of bunting.
It may be of interest to our readers to know that Dr Pilkington, Hon.Sec. of the Southport Lifeboat Society, accompanied by the second coxswain of the St. Anne's lifeboat, Captain Graham, R.N., Inspector of lifeboats and others, have lately been visiting the stations along our coast for the purpose of examining the different lifeboats with the view of determining on the class of boat they consider best adapted for the purposes of saving life. When at Cromer on Monday last they examined the model of the old Cromer lifeboat now in the possession of Mr. Savin, with which they were most pleased.
The gale on Saturday afternoon sprang up at Cromer with astonishing suddenness. It proved to be one of the most severe known in North Norfolk for many years, says our Cromer representative. The barometer had fallen very rapidly, and registered a point considerably below 29 inches. But otherwise there was no indication of the approaching storm. The weather during the morning was sufficiently calm for the ordinary fishing boats to go to sea, but during the afternoon a sudden change took place, the sea becoming every minute rougher and rougher, causing much anxiety for the safety of two boats which had not yet come in. Huge billows were now rolling in towards the shore, rendering it impossible for the boats to land. The lifeboat, manned by a crew of sixteen, was launched to their rescue at half-past three o'clock, the coxswain, James Davies, being as usual at his post. She soon overtook one of the boats, a large crab boat, in which were Alfred Lake of Runton and his two sons. The other boat requiring assistance was what is locally known as a "twenty-foot," belonging to Thomas Davies of Overstrand, who had with him his two sons and two comrades named Seago and Payne. As darkness was approaching, signals were sent up from the lifeboat to indicate her whereabouts to the men in danger, and after about an hour had lapsed the crew of the lifeboat succeeded, after great difficulty, in getting all on board. They were obliged to cast both boats adrift, as, in addition to the tremendous sea running, the gale had by this time increased to an alarming extent, and it became evident that the work of landing would be a perilous one. The crew, unable to bring in the boat opposite the town, ran her ashore just to the north of the east breakwater. In doing so they shipped two heavy seas, the first one sending the boat completely under water, and before she had recovered another was upon her. Fortunately, however, none of the hands were washed out of her, although five oars were broken, and the coxswain received a slight damage to his right wrist. This was by far the roughest sea the present lifeboat has encountered, affording a good test as to her capabilities, and it is satisfactory to learn that the coxswain and crew all agree she behaved splendidly. After all had been safely landed the lifeboat received some damage by being knocked by the force of the waves against the breakwater. The coxswain remarked that they were in fear at one time of not being able to clear the structure, in which case the consequences must have been very disastrous. The highest praise is due to the crew for their gallant services, which gave rise to a feeling of general admiration. As a proof of the very exceptional weather, it may be stated that the tide flowed quite two hours after the time of high water. The gale increased in violence, and continued to rage throughout the night, causing a great deal of minor damage. Several of the houses near the sea had broken windows broken; gas lamps in the more exposed places were blown down; while tiles and slates were scattered in all directions. Other boats belonging to Runton were able to get ashore before the weather had become so tempestuous, but even they landed with considerable risk.
Mr James Davies, coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat, died suddenly at sea yesterday morning. He left the beach in his boat at about 8 o'clock, being accompanied by George Allen and Henry Balls, having put off for the purposes of line laying. When they had been off about 10 minutes, leaving them something like three-quarters of a mile from the shore, the deceased who was sitting in the fore-thwart of the boat tying a tow to the anchor, remarked that he thought his old complaint (gout) was leaving his feet, and was getting up into his body. He had barely finished the sentence when he expired. His comrades at once pulled ashore, and Dr McClure was summoned; but life was quite extinct.
Deceased was very stout, and had for some time suffered from shortness of breadth he was in his 68th year, had been coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat for twenty years, previous to which he acted as deputy-coxswain for about nine years. He was a typical fisherman, sturdy and fearless, ready at any time to face danger, and had the full confidence of his crew. He worked hard at his calling, was steady, and generally respected. We sympathise with his widow and family in their sudden bereavement. An inquest will be held on the body to-day at 12.30.
An inquest on the body of James Davies, of Cromer, fisherman, and coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat, whose sudden death was reported in our issue of yesterday, was held at the Wellington Inn, yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon before Mr. Walter M. Barton, Coroner for the Duchy of Lancaster. Mr. W. P Baker was, elected foreman of the jury. George Allen, fisherman, stated that on Monday morning at about eight o'clock the deceased, Harry Balls, and himself went out in a boat line fishing. They had sailed about three-quarters of a mile, and the deceased was sitting in the fore-thwart making the line fast to the anchor. He appeared in his usual health. Witness was steering. Looking towards where deceased had
been sitting he found he bad fallen into the bottom of the boat. He at once called out to Harry Balls to help him up, but he could not move him. Witness therefore left the tiller and helped him up. He spoke to him, but received no answer. He then appeared to be dead. He heard a noise in his throat three times before they got him on to the thwart. Deceased died within a few minutes after he fell. There was nothing that could have struck him. They lowered the sail at once and made for the shore. Deceased was up at five o'clock that morning. He spoke about his ailment soon after they started, and said the worst work he had to do was dragging the boats down the Beach. Two or three minutes after that, he said, "I think my complaint is leaving my legs and getting up into my throat." Two or three seconds after saying those words he dropped into the boat's bottom. Witness was aware that he had suffered from rheumatic gout. H. Balls jun., corroborated the evidence of the previous witness. He said his attention was aft, so he did not see deceased fall, but he noticed the boat gave a lurch. Allen (his uncle) called out to him, "Help him up." He tried to do so, but he could not. Harriet
Davies, sister to deceased's wife, identified the body, and said she had known deceased all her life. His age was 67. For the past three years he had suffered very much from rheumatic gout, and had, in fact, been afflicted with that ailment, more or less, for about thirteen years. There were no wounds or bruises on the body except the mark on his wrist, which was hurt
when coming ashore with the lifeboat during the late gale. He had told her that experience was a great shock to him. Mr. A. Mace, one of the jury, said deceased had told him that in coming ashore on that occasion alluded to, he had hurt his side as well as his wrist. The Coroner having briefly summed up the evidence, the jury ay once returned a verdict of "Death from natural causes".