Station history

The Institution decided to open a station at Clacton-on-Sea in 1877 at the request of local residents, and the first boat was sent in the following year.  The first three lifeboats all named Albert Edward were gifts to the Institution from the Freemasons of England, the first being presented in 1878 in commemoration of the safe return from his tour in India of their Grand Master King Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales.

1828

Silver Medal awarded to William Weekes for the rescue, with eight others of the Master, Mate and 10 seamen from the Brig Graf Von Essen on 1 December 1828.

1830

Silver Medal was awarded to Robert Cleave who, with two seamen, rescued two seamen from the Brig Craig Elachie, wrecked on Gunfleet Sand on 24 December 1829.

1843

Silver Medals awarded to John Glover, master of the Smack Atalanta, Stephen Hurry, Master of the Smack New Gypsy, and John Powell of Lord Howe for rescuing the master and nine men from the rigging of the brig Traveller, wrecked at Gunfleet Sand  in gale force wind and tremendous seas on 18 February 1843.

1855

Silver Medals awarded to Captain William Lewis (smack Tyrall) and Captain John Lewis (smack Aurorra’s Increase) for a service on 16/18 January 1855 to the Brig Stanton of North Shields, that went aground on Gunfleet Sand.  Attempts were made by several smacks to get her off, but without success.  The Smack Aurora's Increase then took off her crew, with the exception of an apprentice boy and three men belonging to another smack.  The next day the Smacks Tryall and Aurora's Increase endeavoured to rescue these people, but in vain, and it was not until two days later that they succeeded in doing so.  This was accomplished with the assistance of the Steam-tug Amazon

1878

Lifeboat house constructed in Anglefield on the corner of Church Road at a cost of £510 by Messrs A I E Cauler.  A fence was placed around the lifeboat house to a cost of £39 to prevent cattle from damaging it.

The first Clacton lifeboat, a 34ft SR, Albert Edward, built at a cost of £363, was placed on service in April.

1881

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Robert Legerton, in recognition of his general gallant services and particularly on the occasion of the rescue of the crew of 16 men of the Lugger Madeleine, which was wrecked on Gunfleet Sands on 23 October 1881.

1884

Two slipways constructed on pier for use of lifeboat at a cost of £690.

Silver Medal Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Samuel James Robert Legerton, in recognition of his valuable services when on 23/24 January 1884 during a north-westerly gale the lifeboat capsized with the loss of two of her crew of 12, Second Coxswain James Cross, and crew member Thomas Cattermole, whilst on service to the barge Jesse which lay at anchor near the Heaps Buoy with her sails in tatters and showing distress lights.  The Committee of Management voted £450 to local funds.

In view of this tragedy, the RNLI decided to place a larger and more powerful lifeboat on station. In February, a temporary lifeboat Heyland (ON38), was placed on service from the reserve fleet. To accommodate the new lifeboat 2 new slipways and an extension to the house were built.

1885

A new 39ft SR lifeboat, also named Albert Edward (ON32), built at a cost of £634, was placed on service in April.

1888

Committee of Management voted £50 to the widow of Benjamin Addis who died on 19 February from the effects of exposure when out on service on 14 January.  He had been a member of the crew since the formation of the station.

1891

Silver Medal Third-Service Clasp was awarded to Robert Legerton on his resignation from the post of coxswain which he held for about 13 years.

1893

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain William Schofield, in recognition of his gallant services in three successive services to rescue three boats over the 20th and 21st November.

Repairs to slipway £160.

1894

Silver Medals to Maurice Nicholls, Robert Osborne and John Grier who had been out on service respectively 77, 74 and 67 times.

Silver Medal from the King of Denmark was awarded to Coxswain William Schofield for saving the lives of eight crew and the master of the Danish brig St Alexei of Copenhagen on 4 January.

1899

Silver Medals awarded to Maurice Nicholls (Second-Service Clasp), Robert Osborne (Second-Service Clasp) and George Grigson Snr on their retirement.

1901

A new Watson Class SR lifeboat, also named Albert Edward (ON463), built at a cost of £1890, was placed on service in December.

1911

Estimate for new slipway £1,500.

Whilst the Albert Edward was away having an engine installed from August 1911 to September 1912, a reserve lifeboat, the 38ft Liverpool class Charles Deere James (ON516) was placed on temporary service.

1914

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain George Grigson for the rescue of 15 men from the ss Harlington that went ashore on Gunfleet Sands in a south-south-westerly gale and very heavy seas on 2/5 December 1914.  The lifeboat was on scene almost continually until 5 December.

1915

Silver Medals Second-Service clasp awarded to Coxswain George Grigson and Second Coxswain Jesse Salmon for the rescue of the Barque Leading Chief on 28/29 September 1915  It was necessary for the lifeboat to make nine separate attempts to approach the vessel and finally to take the lifeboat over the submerged deck of the vessel in a most hazardous operation in the inky darkness with the heavy seas running.

1918

Silver Medal Third Service clasp to Coxswain George Grigson and the Bronze Medal to Second Coxswain Jesse Salmon for the rescue of 23 from the SS Iris that went ashore in strong easterly gale, snow, and very rough seas on 27 December 1917.  The Master refused to leave the ship and the lifeboat stood by for several hours.  The weather got worse and it was not until the seas were washing the vessel that the Captain decided to leave the ship.  The crew were rescued with great difficulty and danger.  Both the rescuers and the rescued were numbed and well nigh frozen from their long exposure of 24 hours in icy cold weather.

1929

A new motorised Watson class lifeboat Edward Z Dresden (ON707), built at a cost of £8946, was placed on service in March.

A new boathouse and deep-water roller slipway were built on the north east side of Clacton pier the previous year.

1940

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Charles Ellis for the rescue of three from the smack Charlotte Ellen and two of the Barge Lorna in gale force winds and very rough seas on 19 November 1939.  At daybreak the lifeboat found the smack Charlotte Ellen anchored and helpless in a very dangerous position at Swire Hole.  The coxswain took the lifeboat between the vessel and the sands and took off her three man crew.  After landing the survivors he went out again to find the barge Lorna anchored between south Whitaker and Middle Sands with seas breaking right over her.  After an unsuccessful attempt to get alongside the coxswain ran the lifeboat onto the deck and his crew snatched the two crewmen aboard just as the heavy seas washed the lifeboat off.

The Clacton lifeboat Edward Z Dresden was one of the 19 lifeboats that took part in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk.  The lifeboat could no longer work from Clacton as the middle of the pier had been blown up to make it useless to invading forces and the lifeboat house was at the end of the pier.  The lifeboat was then stationed at Brightlingsea in the River Colne where she lay afloat. Following lengthy discussions, the Authorities agreed to bridge the gap in the pier so that the lifeboat could use her boathouse, and she was rehoused again on 13 November.

1943

There is a memorial plaque in the lifeboat house in memory of Second Coxswain Frank Castle who lost his life on service on 7 April 1943, when the barge Tam O'Shanter capsized in heavy weather while being towed by the lifeboat.

1952

A new motorised Watson class lifeboat Sir Godfrey Baring (ON887), built at a cost of £24, 628, was placed on service in January and the Edward Z Dresden transferred to Stronsay in the Orkneys before retiring to the reserve fleet.

1966

A D class inshore lifeboat ILB D-107 was sent to station in July and was on service until 1978.

1967

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to the Coxswain George Ellis for the rescue of eight people on board the catamaran Yana, six of whom were policemen, which was in difficulties one mile west of the Sunken Buxey buoy in a storm force south-westerly wind with a very rough sea on 16/17 October. 
ILB boathouse constructed on the promenade just to the west of the pier.

1968

A new Oakley class SR lifeboat Valentine Wyndham-Quin (ON985), built at a cost of £33, 896, was placed on service in January and the Sir Godfrey Baring transferred to Wick.

1970

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Charles Bolingbroke in recognition of his courage and determination when the lifeboat rescued three men from a converted ship's lifeboat which had broken down one and a half miles south west of Beach Head buoy in a southerly gale and a rough sea on 6 August.  Vellum service certificates were presented to the remainder of the crew.

1971

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Charles Bolingbroke in recognition of his leadership and seamanship when the lifeboat rescued five people from the yacht Zona and the cabin cruiser Pisces which were in difficulties near the West Swinn buoy in a south-south-westerly gale and a rough sea on 20 November.  Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman were presented to the remainder of the crew.

1974

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Charles Bolingbroke in recognition of his considerable courage and great skill when the lifeboat saved the Dutch 45 foot steel motor barge Minnie Ha Ha and her crew of three which was aground in a gale force wind and a very rough sea on 15 July.  Vellum service certificates were presented to the remainder of the crew.

1978

Centenary Vellum awarded to station.

A new D class ILB D-262, was placed on service in July and D-107 retired.

1983

The relief Watson class lifeboat The Duke of Montrose (ON934) was placed on temporary service whilst the Valentine Wyndham-Quin underwent hull repairs.

1984

A new D class ILB D-302 was placed on service and D-262 withdrawn.

Atlantic 21 class lifeboat B-514 Guide friendship 1 was placed on service at the station on 6 August, and the all-weather lifeboat The Duke of Montrose was withdrawn on 10 August.

1985

A new Atlantic 21 ILB B-511 Co-operative No 1 took over service from B-514.

1989

A new Atlantic 21 ILB B-579 Institute of London Underwriters took over service from B-511.

1992

Bronze Medal awarded to Helmsman David Wells in recognition of his high standard of seamanship, boat-handling skills and determination, when the Atlantic 21 class lifeboat Institute of London Underwriters gave assistance to the yacht Two Niner on 1 November 1991.  The yacht, with six people on board, had gone aground on the south-east side of Buxey Sand in a south-south-westerly gale and very rough seas.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Terry M Bolingbroke and A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Michael Vernon, was awarded to crew member Thomas Ridley.  The Ralph Glister Award and the Walter and Elizabeth Groombridge Award were awarded to Helmsman David Wells and crew members Thomas Ridley and Terry Bolingbroke for this service.

A new D class ILB D-431 Veronica was placed on service in July and D-302 withdrawn.

1997

Relief Atlantic 21 ILB B-526 was placed on service to cover an overhaul to B--579.

1998

Construction of a side extension to the boathouse in order to provide housing for an Atlantic 75 class lifeboat, plus improved crew facilities was completed in September.

2000

A new Atlantic 75 class lifeboat, B-744 Robert George Alexander costing £65,000, was placed on service 10 Oct 1998. The lifeboat was funded by the legacy of Mr R G Alexander.

2006

A new B and D class boathouse located a mile west of the pier close to the Martello Tower was built at a cost of £645,125 completed 6 September.

2009

A new D class lifeboat, D-723 Damarkand IV, was placed on service on 25 June.  Lifeboat D-559 Seahorse II has been withdrawn.

2012

A new Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, B-863 David Porter MPS was placed on service on 08 August 2012. Lifeboat B-744 Robert George Alexander has been withdrawn.

MEDAL RECORD

Twenty-four medals have been awarded to Clacton, 22 Silver and two Bronze, the last being voted in 1992.

FOREIGN AWARDS

The French Government awarded a Gold Medal to Coxswain R Legerton and Second Coxswain James Cross and Silver Medals to each of the remaining 11 members of the lifeboat's crew for the rescue of the crew of 16 of the steam lugger Madeleine of Boulogne in October 1881.

In 1894 HM The King of Denmark awarded a Silver Medal to Coxswain William Schofield and a monetary reward to the lifeboat crew for the rescue of the crew of seven of the brigantine St Alexal of Copenhagen in January 1894.