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90 years since sail made way to engine power at Clacton RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

It is 90 years since the last service undertaken using sail was performed by Clacton RNLI, which also ended 51 years of the Albert Edward Lifeboats at Clacton.

Clacton RNLI

Third Albert Edward, You will see the retro fitted propellor

On 21 March 1929 at 12.25am the third and last of the Clacton RNLI lifeboats to be named Albert Edward, set out on a uneventful service, which was to be its last at Clacton. Launching to reports of distress flares being sighted, the crew of the Albert Edward searched the area where they were sighted for several hours, returning home at 5.30am after nothing was found, bringing to an end 51 years of sail at Clacton RNLI.

For five decades the Clacton RNLI lifeboats had been sail powered (auxiliary engine fitted 1911) and named Albert Edward, after King Edward VII, in recognition of the efforts made by the Freemasons in raising the funds to pay for them, of which King Edward VII was their Grand Master.

The coxswain and senior crew on this final service were not the usual ones to take to the sea, but a relief coxswain, as Clacton’s coxswain Charles Ellis and crew were on a return passage from Cowes with Clacton’s new motor lifeboat Edward Z Dresden.

The relief coxswain was no stranger to the Albert Edward, as he was George Grigson, Clacton’s coxswain 1907-1919, awarded the Silver Medal three times for his bravery. He was accompanied on this service by his brother Harold, who had served alongside him since the early 1900s, after following in their father’s footsteps. Their legacy lives on today, as current crew member Steve Oaks is a direct descendant of Harold Grigson.

Steve Oaks said; ‘When I joined the crew at Clacton RNLI, I knew it was something I wanted to do, but I had no idea about the family connection, it was only when I started to trace my family tree that the connection became apparent.’

The Albert Edward lifeboats were launched 270 times, saving over 550 people, with 14 Silver Medals being awarded to their crews.

Notes to Editor

· Built as a Sailing lifeboat in 1901, the third Albert Edward was retro fitted with an auxiliary engine in 1911, but its main propulsion was still sail.

· The first three lifeboats stationed at Clacton were all named Albert Edward after Prince Albert, later becoming King Edward VII, after they were funded by donations from the Freemasons, of which Prince Albert was their Grand Master.

· The Albert Edward lifeboats were launched 270 times, saving over 550 people, with 14 Silver Medals being awarded to their crews.

· The Edward Z Dresden was the first ‘motor lifeboat’ at Clacton, and was one of the little ships at Dunkirk.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Richard Wigley volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or richard_wigley@rnli.org.uk or Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or Clare_Hopps@rnli.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

Clacton RNLI

George Grigson

Clacton RNLI

Harold Grigson

Clacton RNLI

Steve Oakes

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