Station history

The Cromer Lifeboat Station was established in 1804 and was not taken over by the Institution from the Norfolk Shipwreck Association until 1857.  Since 1923 there have been two lifeboats at Cromer, the larger for working on the outlying sands and the smaller for working inshore.  The outstanding figure in the history of Cromer is Henry George Blogg who became a member of the Cromer crew in 1894 at the age of 18.  He was coxswain from 1909-1947.  During his 53 years as a lifeboatman, the Cromer lifeboats had been on service 387 times and rescued 873 lives.  His record is without equal in the history of the Institution.  No lifeboatman has received so many decorations for gallantry.  He won the Gold Medal of the Institution, which is only given for conspicuous gallantry, three times.  He won the Silver Medal four times.  He also held the George Cross and the British Empire Medal.  He died in July 1954 at the age of 78 years.  A bronze memorial plaque commemorating him was unveiled by Lord Templewood in the Cromer lifeboat house in August 1955.  Coxswain Blogg’s portrait was painted for the Institution by Mr F C Dugdale RA and was exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1942, and now hangs in the offices of the Institution.  A copy by Mr Dugdale was presented to Coxswain Blogg by the Institution.

1858

RNLI placed its first lifeboat on service, a 34ft Peake class boat, built at a cost of £176.

1867

Silver Medal awarded to the Hon Auberon Herbert in admiration of his gallant conduct when the lifeboat launched on service through heavy surf, with the view of rescuing the crew of the Sloop Sutcliffe that was wrecked off Cromer in a gale on 26 July 1867.

1868

A new lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £476.

A new 34ft SR lifeboat Benjamin Bond Cabbell, built at a cost of £306, was placed on service. The previous boat was broken up.

1877

Tests were made each time the lifeboat was afloat.  Half the oarsman wore waistcoast life-belts and the other half strap and buckle belts.

1884

A new 35ft lifeboat, built with input from Cromer personnel and hence termed a “Cromer” design, also named Benjamin Bond Cabbell ON12, built at a cost of £365, was placed on service in September and the old boat broken up.

1895

Gas laid on to lifeboat house.

1902

A new 38ft Liverpool class lifeboat Louisa Heartwell ON495, built at a cost of £982, was placed on service in September.

A new boathouse was constructed to house the new lifeboat and carriage, costing £525.

1917

Gold Medal awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg, Silver Medals to William Davies and Private Stewart Holmes, and Bronze Medals awarded to crew members George Allen, James Allen, Edward Allen, William Allen, Henry Balls, Charles Cox, George Cox, Leslie Harrison, Tom Kirby, Gilbert Mayers, Walter Rix, and William Rix in recognition of the seamanship, unwavering courage, tenacity and physical endurance displayed by them when the lifeboat went to the assistance of the Swedish steamer Fernebo after an explosion had broke the vessel in two in a strong north-easterly gale in the afternoon of 9 January 1917.  The lifeboat, only just returned from a service to the Greek vessel Pyrin, and with a crew undaunted by their previous exertions, tried to launched once more with the assistance of hundreds of servicemen, many up to their necks in the water, but it was impossible to get past the heavy surf and she was driven back onto the beach.  Several more unsuccessful attempts were made to launch and rocket apparatus was also tried, but just before midnight the lifeboat was successfully launched and rescued 11 survivors.

This was the first time Bronze medals had been awarded.  Due to wartime demands, lifeboat crews were almost all, over military age, and more than one in this lifeboat crew was approaching 70 years of age.  The Committee of Management voted a grant of £100 to a soldier, Driver John Sharp who became paralysed after assisting as a launcher on this service.  He died as a result of his illness on 21 September 1918 and the grant of £100, which had been invested, was returned to the Institution.

1923

With the introduction of a motor lifeboat to Cromer, a new lifeboat house and slipway was constructed at the end of the Pier at a cost of £32,000.

A new motorised Norfolk and Suffolk class lifeboat H F Bailey ON670, built at a cost of £10,993, was placed on service and the Louisa Heartwell retained as a No 2 boat.

1924

Coxswain Blogg and six other Gold Medallists awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal by HM The King in the RNLI’s Centenary Year.

A new motorised Waverley class lifeboat, also named H F Bailey ON694, built at a cost of £7,580, was placed on service and the previous boat transferred to Gorleston.

1927

Gold Medal Second Service Bar awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg; Bronze Medal Second Service Bars to crew members Edward Allen and Leslie  Harrison, and Bronze Medals to George Balls, John James Davies (Senior), Robert Davies, William Thomas Davies, Richard J Baker, George Cox, Harry William Davies, James William Davies, John James Davies (Junior) and Sidney Charles Harrison for the rescue of 15 men from the Dutch oil tanker Georgia which had broken in two at 8.30 pm on the South Haisborough Sands on 21/22 November 1927.

1928

A Centenary Vellum awarded.

A new motorised Waverley class lifeboat, named H F Bailey II ON714, built at a cost of £8,470, was placed on service and the previous boat sent away for overhaul.

1929

HF Bailey 11 ON714 was sent for overhaul, and HF Bailey ON694 returned to station. 

1931

Bronze Medal Second Service Bar awarded to Bowman John James Davies (Snr) when on 17 February he jumped overboard from the lifeboat when on service to a capsized fishing boat Welcome Home to help a man who was helpless in the water; unfortunately the man died.

A Liverpool class lifeboat Alexandra ON514, previously on service at Hope Cove, replaced Louisa Heartwell as the station’s No 2 boat.

1932

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg for the rescue of 30 men and a dog from the Italian steamer Monte Nevoso that ran aground on the Haisborough Sands on 14 October 1932.  Coxswain Blogg was awarded the Silver Medal of the Canine Defence League.

1934

Silver Medal Second Service Bar awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg for the rescue of two men from the barge Sepoy flying distress flags and dragging her anchors on 13 December 1933.  As the lifeboat was already at sea on another service several unsuccessful attempts to launch the number two lifeboat were made, but when Coxswain Blogg, returning to station, heard of the casualty he immediately made best speed to assist.  When he reached the vessel he rounded her stern and came between the barge, with heavy seas breaking over her, and the shore, trying unsuccessfully to lay alongside the vessel’s rigging, her decks beneath the water.  Coxswain Blogg then ran the lifeboat’s bow, on top of the bulwarks, abreast of the starboard rigging, and one of the exhausted, very cold men was seized by some of the crew and hauled aboard.  This manoeuvre was repeated and the other man was saved.

1935

A new Waverley class lifeboat, also named H F Bailey ON777, built at a cost of £7,308, was placed on service as the No 1 lifeboat.

1939

Silver Medal Third Service Bar awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg; Bronze Medal Third Service Bar to Second Coxswain John Davies (Snr); Bronze Medals  Second Service Bar awarded to Mechanic Henry W Davies and Assistant Mechanic James W Davies for the rescue of 29 from the Greek steamer Mount Ida wrecked on Ower Bank on 9/10 October 1939.  This was the first lifeboat medal to be awarded in the war of 1939-1945.

1941

Gold Medal Third Service Bar awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg, Silver Medal awarded to Second Coxswain John J Davies and a Bronze Medal Third Service Bar to Mechanic Henry W Davies, for rescuing 88 lives from six steamers of a convoy which had been wrecked on the Haisborough Sands on 5 August 1941.  Coxswain Blogg was also awarded the BEM for this service.  Also for this service a Bronze Medal Third Service Bar awarded to Second Coxswain Leslie James Harrison and a Bronze Medal awarded to Mechanic Harold V Linder for the rescue of eight from the ss Taara.  Shortly before the award of the BEM for this service, it was announced that the George Cross was to be substituted for the Empire Gallantry Medal awarded in 1924.  Coxswain Blogg received his George Cross in October.

Silver Medal Forth Service Bar awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg, Bronze Medal Forth Service Bar awarded to Second Coxswain John J Davies (Snr) and Mechanic Henry W Davies, Bronze Medal Third Service Bars awarded to Signalman Edward W Allen (posth) and Assistant Mechanic James W Davies, Bronze Medals Second Service Bars awarded to crew members Sidney C Harrison, John J Davies (Jnr), and Bowman William T Davies; and Bronze Medal awarded to Henry Thomas Davies, James Richard Davies, Robert C Davies and William H Davies for the rescue of the crew from the English Trader wrecked on Hammond Knoll on 26 October 1941.  Whilst on this service, five men, including Coxswain Blogg, were washed out of the lifeboat.  All were recovered but boat signalman Edward W Allen died of heart failure later and his widow was granted a pension.

1945

A new Watson class lifeboat Millie Walton ON840, built at a cost of £15,242 and previously on service at Douglas, Isle of Man, was placed on service in December. She was the first mid-ship steering type of lifeboat. H F Bailey was transferred to Gorleston.

1946

The Millie Walton was renamed Henry Blogg after its namesake who had an unprecedented record of service for Cromer over 53 years and who finally retired in September 1947. The naming ceremony was postponed until August 1948.

1964

A new Oakley class lifeboat William Henry and Mary King ON980, built at a cost of £33,000, was placed on service in October as the No 2 lifeboat, the Harriot Dixon being transferred to Great Yarmouth.

1967

A new Oakley class lifeboat Ruby and Arthur Reed ON990, built at a cost of £60,000, was placed on service in March. Henry Blogg had been transferred to Gorleston station in April 1966 for repairs and the No 2 lifeboat provided cover for the intervening period.

A D class IRB lifeboat D-101 sent to station in March and No 2 station closed on 22 June, and William Henry and Mary King transferred to Bridlington.

1970

D-101 transferred to Bembridge and replaced by D-26, previously on service at Walmer and Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.

1972

A new ILB D-197 was placed on service and D-26 returned to Reserve fleet.

1973

The Reserve fleet lifeboat, The Good Hope, ON821, was placed on service as cover and William Henry and Mary King sent for refit, returning in August 1974.

1974

Bronze Medal awarded to Dr Paul Barclay MC TD, in recognition of his courage and devotion to duty in undertaking a hazardous transfer, although suffering from severe seasickness, from the lifeboat to the trawler Boston Jaguar to treat an injured man on 15 November 1973.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was awarded to Coxswain H T Davies BEM, in recognition of his skill and determination in successfully transferring Dr Barclay and crew member R W Davies to the trawler.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum also accorded to crew member R W Davies in recognition of his meritorious action in undertaking the hazardous transfer in support of Dr Barclay.

1975

A celebration Vellum presented to station to commemorate 171 years service.

1981

Bronze Medal awarded to Helmsman Clive Richard Rayment in recognition of his courage and seamanship when the D class inflatable lifeboat rescued the crew of two of the fishing boat George William which sank off East Runton in a strong north-north-easterly wind and a rough onshore sea and swell on 1 May 1981. One man was clinging to a lifebuoy and the other to a crab pot marker buoy the lifeboat was driven at maximum speed despite the heavy onshore swell to reach the two men quickly who were both suffering from hypothermia when picked up.  Medal service certificates were presented to the two crew members of the lifeboat, Frank H Muirhead and Christopher B Craske.

1984

A new ILB boathouse was constructed and a new D class lifeboat D-307 Spirit of Round Table placed on service, D-197 being transferred to the Reserve fleet.

1985

The new station Tyne class lifeboat ON1097 Ruby & Arthur Reed II placed on service on 16 December.  Ruby and Arthur Reed left for a refit in September 1984 and the Relief fleet Watson class lifeboat Guy and Clair Hunter ON926 provided cover over the intervening period.

1989

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was awarded to Coxswain Richard Davies for towing to safety the yacht Phaedra and thus saving the lives of her crew of two on 29 September 1988.  The casualty was 33 miles from Cromer and sailing around in circles in the middle of the night in a west-south-west Force 8/9 Gale gusting to Force 10, and 20 foot seas.  Severe weather conditions prevented a crew member being placed on board the casualty to secure a tow, but the skipper of the yacht managed to haul down the sails and make fast a tow.  This service lasted 12 hours in the worst conditions experienced by the crew since the Tyne class lifeboat Ruby and Arthur Reed II was stationed at Cromer in 1985.

1991

A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was presented to Coxswain R W Davies, Second Coxswain W T Davies, Mechanic R J Hannah, Assistant Mechanic J W H Jonas and crew members P Jefferies, P Everitt, H Balls and J Howard for a service on 21 November 1990 to the cargo vessel Stavroula that had gone aground on the Mid Haisbro Sand with nine crew on board.  In an east-north-easterly Force 6 Strong Breeze and a very rough sea, lifeboat Ruby and Arthur Reed II was manoeuvred alongside the vessel and the crew were taken off.  Seven of the crew were landed ashore by helicopter.  The Master and Engineer, with two lifeboatmen, reboarded the vessel to assess the situation.  A small fire was found in the galley and extinguished and the rudder was found to be jammed.  At 2200 the vessel refloated and a towline was passed to the Tug Anglian Warrior, which had arrived on scene.  The two lifeboatmen returned to the lifeboat and the vessel was towed to Lowestoft.

1992

A new D class ILB D-436 Chloe was placed on service, D-307 Spirit of Round Table was retired to the Relief fleet.

1994

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Richard William Davies in recognition of his courage, leadership and outstanding seamanship when on the afternoon of the 13 October 1993, the Ruby and Arthur Reed II lifeboat rescued the crew of five and saved the yacht Happy Bear, which had suffered steering failure off Cromer in storm force winds and 35 foot seas.  Heavy seas were lashing the boathouse doors as the lifeboat launched down the slipway and on reaching the water, she was completely buried in the sea.  The launch of the lifeboat was the roughest that the station had experienced in the 30 years that the coxswain had been involved.

1996

During the construction of the new boathouse the old one was out of service, so Ruby and Arthur Reed II was retired to the Relief fleet and replaced by the beach launched Mersey class Her Majesty the Queen ON1189 which was transferred from the Relief fleet.

1998

A New ALB boathouse and slipway completed in October.

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Second Coxswain William Davies of the Cromer relief lifeboat ON1189 Her Majesty The Queen in recognition of the high standard of seamanship and considerable initiative displayed by him when saving the crew of three and the yacht Tange of Whitby during an 11 hour service in severe weather conditions on 6 November 1998. Vellum Service Certificates were also awarded to the seven crew, John Jonas, Gary Humphrey, John Davies, John Balls, Adrian Woods, Paul Jeffries and Giovanni Vanzino.

1999

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Richard Davies for entering the sea from the beach and swimming to the aid of a man being swept away by tidal streams on the night of 2 October.  He caught hold of the man and supported him until both were recovered by the inshore lifeboat.  The crew of the inshore lifeboat received Vellum service certificates.

On completion of the new boathouse, Ruby and Arthur Reed II returned to Cromer having had a refit whilst on Relief fleet duty. Her Majesty the Queen returned to the Relief fleet.

2001

A new D class ILB D-568 Seahorse III was placed on service in June. D-436 was retired to the Relief fleet.

2003

The Trustees of the Institution voted that Cromer lifeboat station be awarded a Vellum to commemorate it’s bi-centenary in 2003.

2006

Adaptation of old museum for inshore lifeboat completed March.

A Mersey class lifeboat from the Relief fleet, Royal Shipwright ON1162, was placed on service and ON 1097 retired to the Relief fleet.

2007

Building adaptations to accommodate Tamar class lifeboat were completed in November at a cost of £995,000.

2008

The new Tamar class lifeboat ON1287 Lester was placed on service on 6 January.  This lifeboat was funded by the generous bequest of Mr Derek Clifton Lethern together with other bequests and gifts.  Lifeboat ON1162 was withdrawn.

2011

A new IB1 D class lifeboat D-734 George and Muriel was placed on service and D-568 retired to the Relief fleet.

MEDAL RECORD

Fifty-six medals have been awarded to the men of Cromer – three Gold, eight Silver and 45 Bronze, the last voted in 1994.

FOREIGN AWARDS

The Queen of Holland awarded a gold watch to Coxswain Henry George Blogg and Silver watches to the other members of the lifeboat in connection with the rescue of 15 persons from the wreck of the SS Georgia of Amsterdam in November 1927.

The Italian Government awarded a Silver medal and a diploma to Coxswain Blogg and Bronze medals and diploma to the other members of the lifeboat’s crew for the rescue of thirty men from the steamer Monte Nevosa of Genoa in October 1932.

The French Government awarded Coxswain Davies the French Maritime Cross and each of the other 11 members of the lifeboat crew with the life-saving medal for the rescue of 16 persons from the French collier Francois Tixier of Dunkirk in July 1948.  The French Minister of Mercantile Marina also awarded a letter of thanks to the lifeboat crew.