Boatmen of The Downs
"And braver deeds than ever turned the fate of Kings
Robert Southey, 1813
The rocket cleaving the midnight sky, the five-minute gun from the distant lightship, the dim surge-swept form of the wrecked vessel, are appeals for help to human ear, to which the splendid answer from the shore is, 'Man the Lifeboat!'
|The names and descriptions below are taken from a number of books in the local history collection of Deal library (see notes at bottom of page). For more information, including contemporary and first-hand accounts, about the work of the early lifeboat crews in rescuing, or attempting to rescue, shipwrecked sailors in the Downs, I would urge the reader to seek out copies of these books through their local library or second-hand bookshop.|
|Simon Pritchard||A fine seaman, lost with 7 others in the wreck of the Deal lugger Reform in 1871.|
Lost with Simon Pritchard attempting to effect a rescue in bad weather
"a fine body of daring seamen who had taken part in many gallant rescues."
|George Reynolds Bayley||
Notable Channel Pilot
Master of the first lugger Albion
Lost at sea in 18702
|Henry Axon (of Walmer)||One of the last of the Channel cruisers||yes (1)|
|Charles Fish||Coxswain of Ramsgate lifeboat||yes (1)|
Coxswain of Ramsgate lifeboat
lifeboat crewman from the age of 19, still serving at age 52
|William Hoile||Coxswain of the Deal lifeboat Charles Dibden||yes (1)|
|William Stanton||Coxswain of the Deal reserve lifeboat||yes (1)|
|James Pay||Coxswain of the Kingsdown lifeboat||yes (1)|
|Jarvist Arnold||Coxswain of the Kingsdown lifeboat||yes (1,3)|
|William (Bonny) Adams||
Coxswain of the Deal lifeboat Charles Dibden
In charge of galley punt Hope (1889)
Adams was a lifeboatman at Deal for 50 years.
|Richard Roberts||Coxswain of North Deal lifeboat. 22 years service in 1907||yes (1,3)|
|John Roberts||brother of Richard|
|Edward Hanger||2nd Coxswain of Deal lifeboat|
|Harry Parker||acting coxswain of Walmer lifeboat|
|Will Axon||acting 2nd coxswain of Walmer lifeboat|
|Mackins||coxswain of Walmer lifeboat|
|Rev. T. Stanley Treanor||Chaplain, Missions to Seamen, Deal and the Downs||yes (2,3)|
|S. Wilds||bowman of galley punt used by Rev Treanor in his Mission|
||crewman on galley punt used by Rev Treanor in his Mission|
|George Marsh||lost on the Goodwin Sands|
|Henry Marsh (Black Harry)||born around 1810||yes (2)|
|skilled boatmen lost with their boat on a fine calm day on the Goodwin Sands|
drowned October 23 1896 trying to climb a rope up the steep sides of a steamer aground on the Goodwins
Coxswain of Walmer lifeboat Charles Dibdin. Went to sea with
his father aged 10; at 15 had his own boat taking pilots on and off vessels
in the Downs.
Long family association with the lifeboat service; grandfather lost on the Goodwins.
|crew of Walmer lifeboat with Freddy Upton||yes (3)|
'Young' Dick Mercer
'Young' Joe Mercer
|variously 1st or 2nd coxswains of Walmer lifeboat||yes (3)|
'Old' Mr Parker
'Old' Mr Jordan
'Old' Joe Mercer
|regular crew members of Walmer lifeboat||yes (3)|
Henry (Harry) Meakins
crew of the Deal motor boat Lady Beatty mustered on 17th March 1929
to rescue the crew of the Gull Lightship, which had sunk.
Harry, Charlie and David, with Dick and his son Jim, made up the crew of the Lady Hale, which rescued a group of 20 visitors from St Margaret's bay when the village was cut off by heavy snow.
Harry Meakins was landlord of the Port Arms and owner of the motor boat Lady Haigh. Once piloted the Royal Yacht in the Downs.
Brothers Charlie and David Pritchard had the Skylark and the Titlark as well as various smaller boats for hiring out to visitors during the summer season.
|described as "three old salts"||yes (3)|
|Tom Adams||familiar face on Deal Beach before WW2||yes (4)|
|Ben Bailey||fisherman working off Deal Beach in the 1950s||yes (3)|
|Jack 'Spainard' May||Deal Hoveller||yes (3)|
|Albert Emptage||coxswain of Margate lifeboat|
frequently accompanied rescuers to give first aid
drowned in the capsize of the Margate surf boat Friend of all Nations
|R. Smith||2nd coxswain of Margate lifeboat|
|W. Mackie||bowman of Margate lifeboat|
John Epps jnr
|crew members of Margate lifeboat|
1. Pictures and information on this page are taken from:
2. The work of the Deal luggers was considered so hazardous that Lloyds would not underwrite the risk, with the result that the boatmen-owners were uninsured.
3. The books contain photographs of some of the boatmen - the numbers refers to the titles as above.