Heroic Past

The History of the Station

In 1826 the Suffolk Association for saving the lives of shipwrecked seamen was established and they provided an 8 oarer at Sizewell (she was 24 foot long, 8 foot wide and cost £168) – most of the crew came from Aldeburgh. In 1851 the Society was taken over by the RNLI and the boat moved to Aldeburgh. Various boats came and went all the while increasing in size. By 1881 Aldeburgh had the George Hounsfield, which was 40 foot long with 12 oars. On 6th January of that year a message was received that the Indian Chief was aground at Long Sands at the mouth of the Thames. The boat was unable to launch for two hours due to the howling easterly gale and the horizontal snow, she eventually was launched and they rowed/sailed to first the Shipwash and the down to the Indian Chief where the coxswain found no survivors – they had been saved by the Ramsgate boat before Aldeburgh was alerted and launched. At 8pm (a good 3 hours after dark) the George Hounsfield arrived at Harwich only to be told the Harwich boat was out as was the Clacton boat and there was another casualty on the Maplin Sands.

Without stopping to get dry clothes off they rowed/sailed into the still howling snow laden wind. They could not see the casualty so dropped the anchor overnight and at dawn set off again, when they came across the stricken vessel they saw the Clacton boat leaving with the survivors. They then set sail for Aldeburgh where they arrived 30 hours after setting out having rowed/sailed some 120 miles in appalling conditions.

In those days before radio, radar the lifeboats were summoned by look-outs and by firing cannon from light vessels. By December 1899 the George Hounsfield had been replaced by the 46ft ALDEBURGH which was launched on 7th December into a S.W. gale ; the boat got off the beach but was capsized on the inner shoal and of the 18 men aboard 12 were flung clear. 6 were trapped in the upside-dowGHoundsfield1n hull and as it was flung back onto the shore holes were made in the hull to try and rescue the six men trapped, it was not until the tide went down that they managed to retrieve the six bodies. You can still see the monument in the graveyard at Aldeburgh and a huge copper tablet in the church. Another 44ft boat was on station by the end of the month and a new crew formed.

In November 1902 the City of Winchester arrived on Station at 46ft she, like most of her predecessors, was non-self righting. Her rudder is mounted in front of the present lifeboat shed. In 1900 Dunwich station was closed and in 1903 Thorpness station suffered the same fate so two boats were stationed at Aldeburgh. It was during the period from 1888 to 1917 (a period of 29 years) that the famous James Cables was coxswain of Aldeburgh during which time he received 3 silver medals from the RNLI, a Norwegian silver medal, and many other gifts from grateful alive “customers”. He died in 1930 at the age of 78.In 1928 the City of Westminster was withdrawn from service and by 1932 after many trials and relief boats we had our first motorised lifeboat – the Abdy Beauclerk abdybeauclerk2(cost £6,384) with 2 x Weyburn petrol engines and a top speed of 7.5 knots; it is interesting to note that roughly this speed remained the top speed of Aldeburgh boats until 1993 some 61 years later.
1939 saw the outbreak of war and The Abdy Beauclerk was the first lifeboat called out to a war casualty when the Magdapur broke her back striking a mine. 74 casualties were picked up all covered in oil and brought back to Aldeburgh. It took two and a half hours to clean the boat from all the blood and oil that the survivors left behind. In 1940 both lifeboats were used to ferry servicemen back from Dunkirk and during the Second World War the two boats saved 107 lives.

Up until the 1950 it is nearly always to trading vessels that the lifeboats go out but after that date we seem to get more yachts until now where it seems to be half and half.
In 1955 the Abdy Beauclerk was on a normal exercise and had been recovered up the beach when a securing chain parted and off she set seawards with nobody on board. A 16 year old John Sharman managed to scramble aboard and eventually the boat was recovered by the second lifeboat. In 1959 The Abdy Beauclerk was withdrawn from service and replaced by the Alfred and Patience Gottwald with 2 x Gardner diesel engines and a top speed of 8.5 Kts – cost a little more than the Beauclerk at £6,384 at £30,000 In 1977 an inflatable lifeboat was also stationed at Aldeburgh, on 17th August whilst the crew were still under training a flare was seen south of the look-out; the Alfred & Patience Gottwald was launched but failed to get to sea and broached and despite the conditions being too severe for the infallible John Marjoram and Douglas Cook anaged to launch into the breaking surf and get to the Spreety where they rescued the young son and stayed with the yacht until the Harwich lifeboat was due to arrive, however the coxswain of the Gottwald saw a chance in the break in the seas and managed to ram the engines full astern and got the boat off the beach then the two boats took the casualty into the river Alde.

Up until the 1950 it is nearly always to trading vessels that the lifeboats go out but after that date we seem to get more yachts until now where it seems to be half and half.
In 1955 the Abdy Beauclerk was on a normal exercise and had been recovered up the beach when a securing chain parted and off she set seawards with nobody on board. A 16 year old John Sharman managed to scramble aboard and eventually the boat was recovered by the second lifeboat. In 1959 The Abdy Beauclerk was withdrawn from service and replaced by the Alfred and Patience Gottwald with 2 x Gardner diesel engines and a top speed of 8.5 Kts – cost a little more than the Beauclerk at £6,384 at £30,000 In 1977 an inflatable lifeboat was also stationed at Aldeburgh, on 17th August whilst the crew were still under training a flare was seen south of the look-out; the Alfred & Patience Gottwald was launched but failed to get to sea and broached and despite the conditions being too severe for the infallible John Marjoram and Douglas Cook anaged to launch into the breaking surf and get to the Spreety where they rescued the young son and stayed with the yacht until the Harwich was due to arrive, however the coxswain of the Gottwald saw a chance in the break in the seas and managed to ram the engines full astern and got the boat off the beach then the two boats took the casualty into the river Alde.

1979 the Alfred and Patience Gottwald was retired and several boats stood in whilst a new boat was built with money entirely raised in Aldeburgh the resultant 37ft Rother Class with 2 x 52hp diesel engines was, at last, self righting but with a speed of only 8 knots – she was the last of the old double ender boats and cost £246,000. Since nearly all the money was raised in Aldeburgh she was named after our most famous coxswain James Cable. She carried a crew of 6 – all standing bar the radio/radar operator. She was on station in June 1982.


Only eight years later the RNLI was determined to phase out all “slow” lifeboats and trails were held at Aldeburgh with a new Mersey class, these proved to be successful and in 12th May 1993 the James Cable was launched for the last time from the beach and went to the river whilst the old shed, and slipway were demolished ready for the Freddie Cooper Mersey that arrived in November 1993 to carry on the tradition of lifeboats at Aldeburgh.

The ALDEBURGH Mersey – all RNLI lifeboats are called after rivers or estuaries – lifeboat arrived at Aldeburgh in November 1993 to replace the old slip launched Rother lifeboat the James Cable.
The Freddie Cooper is 38ft 7in long – you can tell how long lifeboats are by the first two figures of their numbers – Freddie Cooper’s number is 12-34; the 12 being 12 metres (for the purist its actually 11.77 metres) and the 34 is the building number – so there were 33 before her and two after her. She is capable of 16 Kts cruising and at this speed she can do 140 nm – nearly to Zeebrugge in Belgium and back, She is crewed by six or seven crew as chosen by the coxswain dependent upon the situation and the prevailing weather conditions. All of the crew are volunteers. Freddie Cooper was built in 1993 and named by HRH the Duke of Kent in May 1994.
The Mersey was designed by the RNLI for carriage launches (although some are slip launched or lay afloat) there are some 22 carriage stations in the UK and Eire. She is constructed from Fibre Reinforced Composite material with propellers in tunnels to protect them on recovery. The hull is semi-displacement which is capable of righting itself from a complete capsize in 6 seconds. She weighs in at 14 tonnes and is powered by two 280HP turbo charged Caterpillar diesels; and carries 1100 litres (245 gals) fuel in two side tanks.
We also have on station a 16ft (4.1m) D class infshore lifeboat called Christine. The Christine (D-673) was built by the RNLI at Cowes in 2007 – the average life of a D class is 7-8 years -and is powered by a 50HP Mariner engine with side fuel tanks she can do 25 Kts with a 2/3 man crew for 3 hours. The boat has lights so can operate at night but is restricted by wind force and is therefore mainly used for inshore and river Alde work. For the purists she weight 338 Kgs (roughly 700 Lbs) and is made of nylon coated hypolan. The engine is modified by the RNLI so it can be pull started after a capsize. Aldeburgh lifeboat station sits on the shore (52 09.2 N 001 36.2E) facing the North Sea. The present building was designed by Mullins, Dowse & Partners of Woodbridge and built in 1994 by R.G. Carters of Halesworth. A shop and extended crew room were added in 2002. The Inshore Lifeboat is housed in an old pilotage look-out some 100 yards to the south of the main station.

We currently have on the committee of Management a Chairman – Richard Newman, Treasurer: Andrew Harris, Honorary Medical Adviser: Dr Simon Ball, Lifeboat Operations Manager Simon Reid, and three Deputy Launching Authorities who are responsible for launching the lifeboat when the Hon Sec is not available: Richard Newman, Jimmy Robinson and Ian Coventry.

Next Exercise

The next Lifeboat exercise is on:-

Monday 21st August 2017 at 11am.

Launches are subject to change.

ILB exercises – every Sunday at 9.30am and Thursday 6.30pm, subject to weather and operational requirements

Guild Events

2017 Aldeburgh Annual Treasure Hunt

2pm Saturday 27th May

Start and finish at the Railway Inn, Aldeburgh

£5 per head (£2 for under 16's) - picture puzzles, clues and route map supplied

Light snack available at finish

Raffle

Treasure chest prize for the winners plus medals

Steven Saint Coxswain

Weather
Live Weather observation for Aldeburgh/Slaughden updated every 10 seconds


Weather feed provided by Slaughden Sailing Club
Be a fan on facebook