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The courage of past Bridlington lifeboat crews remembered by today's volunteers

Lifeboats News Release

In one of Britain's greatest sea disasters six lifeboat crew and an estimated seventy seamen were lost in a terrible storm.

Crewman Grant Walkington laid the wreath

RNLI/Andy Brompton

On February 10th 1871 at least 23 colliers (coal chips) and merchant vessels had taken shelter in Bridlington Bay from a violent storm.

Sadly the direction of the storm changed quickly and the bay of safety, as it was known, became a death trap with the hurricane winds and atrocious sea conditions driving vessels ashore.

One vessel that was at the mercy of the elements was the Delta of Whitby, the ship's crew were unable to stop the vessel following others and breaking up in the shoreline surf.

After hours at sea helping save sailors from peril, the crew of the national lifeboat Harbinger managed to get along side the Delta and saved five crew.

Once the five crew were safe ashore, the lifeboat was turned into the sea again with its crew pulling hard on the oars making their way to the Delta. The lifeboat crew managed to get alongside to help those on board when a huge breaking wave crashed over both boats capsizing the Harbinger, resulting in the loss of six lifeboat crew.

A service to commemorate all those lost in the Great Gale of 1871 is held on the nearest Sunday to the event each year. With the Coxswain, crews and station personnel attending.

Long serving crewman Grant Walkington laid a wreath at the monument to all those who lost their lives.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland