50 years since the last RNLI offshore lifeboat was christened at Clacton-on-Sea
It will be 50 years on April 23 that Clacton witnessed the naming ceremony for the Valentine Wyndham Quin, the sixth and last offshore lifeboat to be stationed at Clacton-on-Sea during the station’s 140-year history of saving lives at sea.
This period began on 23 May 1878 with rescue of nine lives from the brig Garland.
Arriving at the beginning of the year on 18 January 1968, the 37ft Oakley class self-righting lifeboat replaced its larger predecessor the Sir Godfrey Baring. The change to the smaller class of lifeboat was due to the silting up at the base of the slipway, which caused occasional difficulties with launching for the larger lifeboat.
The new lifeboat did not have to wait long to be called into action for it was requested to launch to a small cabin cruiser Ginny on 4 February with engine difficulties off Jaywick. The cruiser and its three occupants were taken in tow to Brightlingsea.
With preparations well under way for the naming ceremony, the inevitable happened on April 22, the lifeboat was requested to launch at 11.30am after wreckage was spotted near the Mid-Barrow lightvessel. After a detailed search with other vessels and a helicopter, nothing but wreckage was found. It was believed to be an older wreck breaking up. The lifeboat was recovered at 4.30pm and was readied for its public appearance the following day.
In front of a large crowd, HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent officially named the new lifeboat Valentine Wyndham Quin, after the former RNLI Chairman. The new lifeboat was accepted by Clacton RNLI’s Honorary Secretary C.A.Perry from Admiral Sir Wilfred Woods, KCB, Chairman of RNLI’s Committee of Management.
Over the next 15 years there were many exceptional services, being launched on service over 90 times, resulting in at least 66 lives being saved. Of these services, one of the more mundane will be of special interest to our current Lifeboat Operations Manager, David Wells.
At 10.36pm on 24 March 1974, with a force 4 East North Easterly blowing and a moderate sea, he launched for the first time on service as a crew member of the Valentine Wyndham Quin to reports of red flares being sighted. Mr Wells is now using those 44 years of experience to guide the station forward while installing the values and virtues of all those that have gone before in today’s crew.
The same problem curtailed the service period for this lifeboat at Clacton, as for in 1984 the silting up at the base of the slipway that resulted in its predecessor Sir Godfrey Baring being replaced, befell the Valentine Wyndham Quin.
With its passing, in 1984 Clacton RNLI became a dual inshore lifeboat station, with an Atlantic 21 lifeboat being housed in the pier boathouse, using a special trolley to use the iconic slipway. Today there are still two inshore lifeboats, an Atlantic 85 and the latest D class. Now housed in the new boathouse at Martello Bay.
The Valentine Wyndham Quin can now be seen on display in the Harwich Lifeboat Museum, which is in the old lifeboat station, 6 Wellington Road, Harwich, CO12 3EJ
RNLI media contacts
- Richard Wigley, Lifeboat Press Officer, Clacton RNLI: 07903 424698
- Clare Hopps, RNLI Regional Media Officer, North East and East: 07824 518641
- For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.