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Famous lifeboat marks 125th anniversary in company of former crew’s family and those who restored it to glory

PUBLISHED: 09:51 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:51 06 April 2018

Dave Cragie presents a water breaker to museum curator Frank Upcraft, while Captain John Cragie looks on. Picture: JONATHAN HUNT

Dave Cragie presents a water breaker to museum curator Frank Upcraft, while Captain John Cragie looks on. Picture: JONATHAN HUNT

Archant

Important figures from the illustrious history of a Suffolk lifeboat, which saved nearly 50 lives at sea, gathered to share “happy memories” at its anniversary this week.

The Alfred Corry Lifeboat being launched from Southwold beach in the 1890s. Picture: JOHN GOLDSMITHThe Alfred Corry Lifeboat being launched from Southwold beach in the 1890s. Picture: JOHN GOLDSMITH

Guests at The Alfred Corry Lifeboat’s 125th birthday celebrations in Southwold included relatives of former RNLI crew, a rescued Army officer and a master carpenter who helped restore the vessel.

Alfred Corry Museum trustees’ chairman Jonathan Hunt, said it was a “perfect day”.

“The sun didn’t shine, the rain rained and the wind had the Southwold bite to it,” he added.

Museum curator Frank Upcraft on board the restored Alfred Corry in 2010. Picture: ANDY DARNELLMuseum curator Frank Upcraft on board the restored Alfred Corry in 2010. Picture: ANDY DARNELL

“However, none of this dampened the spirits of those who met to celebrate the 125th birthday of The Alfred Corry Lifeboat.

“Prosecco flowed, nibbles were nibbled and old friends who had worked on the restoration of the boat, shared happy memories.”

The Alfred Corry first set sail on April 3, 1893, and saved 47 lives in RNLI service before her decommissioning at the end of the First World War.

The Alfred Corry Liefboat at sea in 1896. Picture: ANDY DARNELLThe Alfred Corry Liefboat at sea in 1896. Picture: ANDY DARNELL

Captain John Cragie, the great grandson of the lifeboat’s first coxswain, also called John Cragie, was among the guests at Tuesday’s celebrations. He rescued the boat from the mud in Maldon, Essex, in 1974, and oversaw her restoration and eventual return to Southwold.

Master carpenter Dick Leon, who was also involved with the boat’s 16-year restoration, was another guest, along with museum curator Frank Upcraft, whose grandfather and great grandfather were both Alfred Corry crewmen.

The museum’s senior trustee Jack Storer, who celebrated his 100th birthday last month, was also in attendance. Mr Storer was an officer in the British Army when he was rescued off Cromer in 1947, by Henry Blogg – the most decorated lifeboatman in RNLI history who served for 53 years and helped save 873 lives before retiring that year.

A torpedo log from the Alfred Corry Lifeboat. Picture: JONATHAN HUNTA torpedo log from the Alfred Corry Lifeboat. Picture: JONATHAN HUNT

Amongst the celebrations and sharing of stories, a relic from the lifeboat’s history was returned.

Dave Cragie, the great-great-grandson of Captain John Cragie presented the lifeboat’s original water breaker to the museum. The breaker dates back to the 1890s and was filled with water - and rum - for the crew on rescues.

Today, the Alfred Corry Lifeboat is housed at Southwold inside the old Cromer lifeboat shed, which had been transported to the town’s harbour by barge in 1998.

Visit www.alfredcorry.co.uk for more information.

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