Cat no. 436

Norfolk Lifeboats and Their Stations Past and Present (long version)

Running time21:39 Colour Sound 1973 Norfolk, Norfolk

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The history of lifeboat stations along the Norfolk Coast.



This film mixes live action shots with stills to tell the story of the Norfolk lifeboats and their stations and opens with a still of the Yarmouth Lifeboat Company rules. There are other stills of old boats and the Sheringham Lifeboat is towed out of its house and then pushed into the sea by a tractor. The commentary explains that in 1973 there were six lifeboat stations in Norfolk. These had been reduced from thirteen. Other stills include a poster advertising a shipwreck sale of the possessions of the 'Johanna' at on 2nd December, 1851 and a 19th century wreck chart. The commentary explains that the Norfolk coast was known as the Devil's Throat. There follows black and white film of the launch of the last rowing lifeboat at Whitby.

The film explains the history of the Norfolk Shipwreck Association. Founded in 1823, it was independent from the RNLI (founded in 1824) until 1857. In a sequence devoted to early Norfolk lifeboats there are shots of Blakeney, where there was a lifeboat station until 1935. There are stills of the Blakeney lifeboat and film of the remains of the lifeboat station on Blakeney Point. The earliest lifeboat in Norfolk was at Cromer. This was provided by the people of the town in 1810. There is a still of this boat designed by Henry Greyhead. There are black and white stills and film of Norfolk showing the crab fishermen and the old and new lifeboat houses feature. These became respectively Cromer No. 2 and Cromer No. 1. There is film of the 'HF Bailey', provided by Henry Bailey of Hampshire. There are stills of the 'Alexandra,' film of the coxswain Henry Davies and a static shot of the previous coxswain, Henry Blogg.

The wartime work of the lifeboats features with film showing casualties being placed in an ambulance at the foot of the East Gangway. Film shows the launch of the 'Henry Blogg,' a Watson Type motor lifeboat, in 1945, of the naming of the William Henry and Mary King in 1964 and of the rehousing of the 'Ruby and Arthur Reed,' a 48' Oakley type in 1967. The William Henry and Mary King was the last boat to be housed at the Cromer No. 2 station. In was replaced by an Inland Rescue boat in 1967. The next sequence of the film looks at the lifeboat stations at Happisburgh, Sea Palling and Winterton, all defunct by the late 1920s.

At Happisburgh, the film shows the lighthouse and St. Mary's Church where the 119 crew members of HMS Invincible were buried in a mass grave in 1801. The first lifeboat there was provided by the people of Huddersfield in 1866. The last, the 'Jacob and Rachel Valentine,' was named on November 30th, 1907. There are stills showing the horses pulling the lifeboat into the sea. The station closed in 1926. At Sea Palling there were two stations, one operated by the villagers and one by the RNLI. The two stations closed within a year of each other in the late 1920s. A poem, written in 1842, recalls the loss of twelve Sea Palling me in one month.

The work of the yawls features before the film looks at the Winterton Station. There is a still of the Yarmouth boat builder, James Beeching, who built many of the local boats.The next sequence looks at the two stations between Cromer and Happisburgh, Bacton and Mundesley, both of which had short lived careers. There is a long shot of Bacton, the gas terminal in the background, and some shots of Broomholm Priory. The story of the Bacton lifeboat is recalled from the Yawl operated by the Beach company from Bacton Green Gap to the RNLI boat established in 1858. The last lifeboat at Bacton, the 'Recompense' capsized in 1880 and the station was closed in 1882. The Mundesley lifeboat station was closed in 1895, having been called out only twice in thirteen years. There is a still of the coxswain and a shot of the lifeboat house, now a private home. This sequence ends with scenes of the Dutch coaster 'Jonet', which ran aground at Mundesley in March, 1969.

At Sheringham there is a sequence of the crab boats at work and a crab boat song sung by the Singing Postmen. There are stills of the Henry Ramey Upcher in action and a static shot of the lifeboat preserved in the old boathouse. The new lifeboat house at the west end on the promenade was built for the first motor lifeboat, 'Foresters' Centenary,' in 1936. The coxswain Henry 'Joyful' West speaks about the boat. Princess Marina launches the Manchester Order of Oddfellows in 1961. The Hunstanton lifeboat station was closed in 1931. A sequence looks at this station along with its near neighbour at Brancaster, closed in 1935. There are shots of Hunstanton Pier and of the Town, including a shot of the Golden Lion Hotel. The lifeboats in Hunstanton were provided by the country's licensees and were named the Licensed vitualler'. There are stills of the launch and film of the lifeboat house. There are shots of St. Mary's Church, Brancaster and beach as well as of Brancaster Staithe. This village provided the crew for the Brancaster Lifeboat, the 'Joseph and Mary.'

Wells station is viewed in detail. There are shots of power boating and of Wells Quay. There are stills of the Quay during the nineteenth century and of the Eliza Adams. There is a memorial to the 11 crewmen who drowned trying to rescue the crew of the Silver Queen off Holkham Bay: at low tide the crew walked ashore. The Old boat house, now a cafe features along with the new boathouse, built in 1895. David Cox, the coxswain of the Wells lifeboat, talks about whelk fishing and a whelk boat is filmed at sea. The 'Royal Silver Jubilee' motor boat was received in 1936. In 1945 the Wells lifeboat team helped to re-establish the lifeboat service in Holland and the 'Cecil Paine' came to Wells. There is film of the 'Cecil Paine' at work and David Cox talks us through a rescue. In 1965 Princess Marina, President of the RNLI, named the 'Ernest Tom Neathercote.'
At Caister there is a memorial to the nine lifeboat men who drowned during a rescue attempt in 1901, including the two sons and two grandsons of the former coxswain, James Haylett. The RNLI closed their station in 1969 and we see the lifeboats provided by the local volunteer rescue service.

After a sequence at a fun fair in Great Yarmouth, from where the last boat was withdrawn in 1919, we go aboard the Gorleston Lifeboat, the 'Khami'. This was built at Lowestoft to a design used by US coast guards. Jack Ryan, the full time coxswain, talks of the boat to complete the film.

Background Information:

In Wells Lifeboat Station, 1869 - 1969, the name of the brig in the attempted rescue by the Eliza Adams was 'Ocean Queen.'

Featured People:

HRH Princess Marina, President of the RNLI; James Beeching; Henry Blogg, coxswain; David Cox, coxswain, Wells Lifeboat; Henry Davies, coxswain; Henry Greyhead, boat builder; James Haylett, 19th century coxswain, Caister Lifeboat; Jack Ryan, coxswain, Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat, 1973; Henry 'Joyful' West, Coxswain, Sheringham Lifeboat

Featured Organisations:

The Norfolk Shipwreck Association; RNLI; The Yarmouth Lifeboat Company

Featured Events:

A shipwreck sale of the possessions of the 'Johanna,' Wells, 2nd December, 1851.The shipwreck of the 'Jonet,' Mundesley, 1969; Princess Marina launches the Manchester Order of Oddfellows, 1961.Princess Marina named the Ernest Tom Neathercote, 1965

Featured Buildings:

Bacton Gas Terminal; Golden Lion Hotel, Hunstanton; Blakeney Point Lifeboat Station Hunstanton Lifeboat Station; St. Mary's Church, Brancaster Hunstanton Pier; Broomholm PrioryMundesley Lifeboat Station; Cromer Pier (Old) Sheringham Lifeboat Station; Cromer No. 1 Lifeboat Station (New) Sheringham Lifeboat Station; Cromer No. 2 Lifeboat Station(Old) Wells Lifeboat Station; Happisburgh Lighthouse (New) Wells Lifeboat Station; St. Mary's Church, Happisburgh

D.J Cleveland

D J Cleveland

Robert Malster

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