Cat no. 435


Running time12:30 Colour Sound 1967 Norfolk, Norfolk

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The life of Captain Manby, inventor of life-saving apparatus for those in peril at sea.



The film begins by highlighting the problem of ships grounding off the North Norfolk coast and different forms of rescue. An outline of an old wreck showing through the sand. At Wells a coaster is marooned on a sand bank. A dinghy capsizes and the coastguard calls out the Sheringham lifeboat. This is pulled by (several) hands to the turntable, turned and then pulled into the water. An air-sea rescue helicopter and an inshore lifeboat assist with the rescue. The sailor is winched up by the Air Sea Rescue helicopter and then placed aboard the lifeboat. At Winterton the rocket rescue team practice firing and setting up a breeches buoy.

Stills of pictures, letters and engravings are merged with live action shots to illustrate the life of George Manby who invented the breeches buoy shore-to-ship rescue system. There are shots of Denver Hall, where Manby was born in 1765 and shots of Downham Market and St. Edmund's Church. Here Manby attended school, where he became a friend of Horatio Nelson. His earliest experiments in using mortars to fire a line were carried out at St. Edmund's Church, Downham Market. This experiment is recreated for the film.

There are exterior views of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, which Manby attended. At Great Yarmouth, where Manby was appointed Barracks Master by the Minister of War, Charles York, we see South Quay and Manby's townhouse on High Road, Southtown.

In February 1807, 67 men were drowned in a shipwreck off Great Yarmouth. This is told through stills and sea shots. Manby renewed his experiments in rocker launches to see if this could be adapted to rescue. He demonstrated his invention to the Suffolk Humane Society and it was tested on 12th February, 1808 on the wreck of the Brigg Elizabeth. He erected a plaque near his house to commemorate this and this is filmed. He was awarded many medals for his invention. There is a static shot of these. Manby also received £2000 from the government.

Manby died on 18th November 1854. He was buried in the Churchyard of All Saints Church, Hilgay, which appears on film, as does his gravestone.The film ends showing a modern life saving team still using Manby's invention at Cley, where a team of twelve men can shoot a line 500 yards. During the final summary we see the Sheringham lifeboat, an Air Sea Rescue helicopter and the launch of the Cromer lifeboat from the end of the Pier.

Featured People:

George Manby, inventor; Horatio Nelson, admiral; Charles York, Minister of War

Featured Organisations:

Royal National Lifeboat Institute; HM Coastguard

Featured Buildings:

Cromer Pier; Denver Hall; St. Edmund's Church, Downham Market; Manby's House, Southtown Road, Great Yarmouth ; All Saints' Church, Hilgay; Royal Military Academy, Woolwich

David Cleveland; C Hancock

HM Coastguard (acknowledgment); Greenwich Maritime Museum (acknowledgement); East Anglia Maritime Museum (acknowledgement); Royal National Lifeboat Institute (acknowledgement); Coxswain & crew of the Sheringham Lifeboat (acknowledgement)

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