Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Henry Irwin Jenkinson, the original Lakeland Guide Writer. 1838 - 1891

Henry Irwin Jenkinson was born at Brotherton, near Pontefract, Yorkshire on 22nd December 1838. He was christened there on 1st May 1839 and was the son of Robert and Mary (nee Shillito) Jenkinson; Robert was a grocer at the time of Henry’s birth. When he was born, he had five older siblings, Robert (11 years older), Mary (9yrs), Benjamin (7yrs), Elizabeth (5yrs), James (2yrs).  Little is known of his early upbringing, but he became a member of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics Institute and the York Institute of Popular Science and Literature. In the former in 1857 he was awarded certificates in algebra, geometry, mensuration and trigonometry. In the latter institute in 1858 he was awarded a first-class certificate for excellence in arithmetic, a second-class certificate for geometry and a third-class certificate in trigonometry.

In the 1861 census Henry is shown as 22 years of age with employment as a railway clerk, still in the Brotherton area. He moved to Keswick to work as the station master of the newly opened railway station, but it is unclear if this was in 1861, or when the station opened for passenger traffic in 1865. It was here that he developed his love of the surrounding fells and began to walk them with ardour. In 1867 he was initiated as a Freemason at the Greta Lodge in Keswick; this may be an indicator of his arrival in 1865. By 1869 he is described in local papers as the ‘late station master’, and now he was giving tuition at the Keswick Mechanics Institute for the April examinations of the Keswick Society of Arts.

In 1871 Henry was shown in an advert in the local papers to be the Secretary of the Threlkeld Sheep Show dated 30th August and was one of the earliest indicators of his deep involvement in all thing’s lake district related. At that time, he was living as a lodger on High Street, at the premise of a Mr. Thomas Woof, a boot and shoemaker. Henry was by now a coal and lime agent.

Also in 1871 he was known to show Flintoff’s celebrated model of the English Lake District and in the summer of that year the well-known publisher of maps and books, Mr. Edward Stanford of Charing Cross, visited Keswick and viewed the model. In discussion with Mr. Stanford Henry expressed a desire to publish a guidebook and was encouraged to do so by his visitor. Once the tourist summer season had waned Henry than set about this new project with zeal. He had re-lived the walks, through the winter months, starting on 15th October and ending in mid-May of 1872. He had become benighted on the fells on several occasions, and at times had to struggle through deep snow drifts, conditions uncommon to the usual tourist traveller. He was meticulous in his detail and walked Great Gable on no less than four occasions in order to correctly describe the ascent to his would-be readers. This was the beginning of his fame as ‘Jenkinson’s Practical Guide to the English Lake District’ was published on 15th August 1872 and contained 9 maps of the area. Despite what initially appeared to be a high cost of six shillings, it received excellent reviews and went on to be re-printed on nine occasions over the years, the later ones by Canon Rawnsley, the famous vicar of Crosthwaite.

H. I. Jenkinson's 1st Edition Guide Book

Pall Mall Gazette 15th August 1872
 Other guidebooks covered the lakes, but none covered the depth of material that the Jenkinson’s Practical Guide did. If the book had a fault it was his own opinions on the Geology of the area, but in that they added to the readers debate on the book’s merits. That they had been written by a man who lived and breathed the English Lakes was perhaps their greatest selling point, for here was the most authoritative guide for any traveller. One account, reported to be well attested, was of him setting off at midnight on 17th June 1871 to walk over Great Gable, Scafell Pike, Bow Fell, Helvellyn, Blencathra, and finally Skiddaw. The distance was said to be 70 miles, coupled with the huge cumulative ascent. On his way up Scafell Pike he had encountered drizzling rain and mist. Then at Hanging Knott he felt it necessary to descend due to the lack of view, but then met two shepherds who were able to direct him, having once again ascended with them. In time he would go on to write similar books on The Isle of Man, The Isle of Wight, North Wales, and the Roman Wall; also other books not ‘Guide’ related.

Now Henry was a celebrated man of the Keswick area and his life would go on to form newsworthy events, causes being given greater authority by his involvement in them. On Wednesday 31st December 1873 an ‘Old Folks’,( or ‘over 60’s’) day was organised for those eligible residents of Keswick and surrounding areas. The organiser of the event was Henry himself, acknowledged as such by the vice chairman, Mr. Mumberson, who was the Keswick auctioneer. The oldest male present was 87-year-old John Twentyman and the eldest female was the 84-year-old quilter (3,570 in total), Mrs. Thompson. Those that could not be present due to infirmity had their celebratory dinner taken to them, making a grand total of 219 elderly residents given a hearty free meal and day of merriment. After songs, poetry recitals, and games, the day concluded with Auld Lang Syne, followed by the National Anthem, with carriages then ready to take the more infirm to the homes. These ‘days’ would go on to become an annual event, thanks largely to the driving force of Henry. He had also tried to organise a ‘Young Folks’ day along similar lines, but the interest was not found, and it became too impractical.

By 1876 the books were essential carrying companions for any serious tourist, especially in the Lake District. A London Silversmith called Edward Barnard had travelled to Keswick with his wife and daughter. He set off on 14th August on his own to walk from the Scafell Hotel in Borrowdale, first to Wasdale Head, then over Black Sail Pass, Gatesgarth Pass, and when there, to catch a coach back to Borrowdale; but he never arrived there. Mr. Jenkinson was called to organise the search for him, himself assisting in the hunt. On Sunday 10th September two farmhands from Wasdale eventually found Mr. Barnard’s body resting against a stone in Ennerdale, below Green Cove. Mr. Jenkinson was called and when they searched the deceased, they found his guidebook in a pocket. In the second week of October of that year, his wife's brother, David Reid of Newcastle, presented Mr. Jenkinson with a gold hunting, keyless, chronometer watch and chain and compass, valued at 70 guineas, with the inscription: 'To Henry Irwin Jenkinson, from the widow, brothers, and sisters of the late Edward Barnard, in recognition of the services they can never repay. September, 1876.' I wonder where this lost piece of Keswick history is now?


Henry immersed himself in all things Keswick and Lake District related. On 22nd October 1879 Henry organised a concert at 7:30pm at The George Assembly Room, Penrith. Part of the concert was a 'Rock Band', namely Messrs. Till & Sons, performing on their famed 80 piece musical stones, gathered from Skiddaw and the surrounding mountains. Part of their Performance was Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith. The performers had been engaged for eight years in the creation of the instrument, which was regarded as the greatest musical wonder of its age. Reserved tickets were 3s, 1st class, 2s, 2nd class 1s, 3rd class 6d, although the last were limited. On 26th August 1878, the Derwentwater Regatta was held, organised by Henry, who was the Honorary Secretary. These name but two ways he saw hos duty to his adopted town and community.

1880 saw Mr. Jenkinson now openly proposing and speaking of the purchase of Fitz Park as a public amenity. The ground was offered for sale as building plots and he then broached the subject of its use by the public as a park. Its loss would deprive Keswick of a location for the agricultural show and a place to practice volunteer drill, cricket, football and other games. His appeal struck a chord with townspeople, which led to the eventual purchase; it was said that a further day’s hesitation would have been fatal to the project. The price of the land was £7,000 and although the land was purchased it took monies raised from benefactors, with other sums from the public, to finally clear the debt and provide the nucleus of an endowment. Had Henry Irwin Jenkinson been given his full reign he would have gone on to fulfil his wider project for the park, namely a free library, gymnasium and public baths, but others had feared the spiralling debt. The final £500 debt was cleared on the day of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, celebrated across 20th and 21st June 1887, across the nation. Part of those celebrations were the organising of bonfires across the country. In the Lake district Mr. Jenkinson was the Keswick representative on the bonfire committee meeting held in Ambleside.

When Rawnsley and Jenkinson came to work closely together is unclear, but they joined in a right of access crusade on behalf of the general public. In that period of the Jubilee there was a growing concern of access to ‘public’ footpaths, none more-so than around the Keswick area. Rawnsley was the local Preservation of Footpaths Association president, with Mr. Jenkinson as the secretary and they were seeking funds to defend the public use of such paths in law. The access to Latrigg became an issue of national importance, as the landowner, Mr. Spedding, stated that the public had no right of access. The association disagreed, claiming the right of ancient users. On 30th August 1887 a protest march was organised by the group. This was high-lighted in a letter written and published in the local press where the vice-president, W. Routh Fitzpatrick, and the Honorary Secretary Henry Irwin Jenkinson, both thanked the members of the society, public and visitors, for their support in asserting their public right of way onto Fawe Park and Latrigg. On the afternoon of Saturday 1st October, a crowd of 2,000 people joined the association in the removal of barriers for a further ascent of Latrigg via Calvert’s Road and Greta Bank, without the landowner’s permission. They took the zig-zag path to the summit, where their loud cheers could be heard the town itself. This finished with the National Anthem being sung and people then made their way off the fell, fully satisfied with their day’s efforts.

Other issues had arisen, such as access to Aira Force, in the Ullswater area, but these were largely resolved through discussion between Mr. Jenkinson and the Association, and the owner of the land, Mr. Howard. What was now becoming ‘The Latrigg Case’, still needed resolving and funds were still gathered through adverts in local and more national papers, with Mr. Jenkinson as the Hon. Secretary. The case was before Lord Justice Grantham at Carlisle Assizes in the first week of July 1888. The matter revolved around there being two routes; one described as a ‘private occupation road’, and the other of a more public character. After hearing from all the witnesses, most of an elderly nature who described to the court their earlier experiences of access to the fell, the lawyers finally got together prior to the retiring of the jury. Finally, a compromise was agreed; Mr. Spedding was to retain the only access via the private road, with the public having access by use of the other. This meant that the principle of access to Latrigg summit had been achieved, so all were satisfied. Not only had this Yorkshireman become the accepted expert guide and author of Lakeland, but now he was the champion of its residents and visitors.

The work of the footpaths association continued into 1889 with meetings to discuss access to Derwentwater; Mr. Jenkinson was still listed as the Honorary Secretary. The paths to Friar’s Crag and to the summit of Castlehead had always been considered public, now this access was more formalised.

The Herculean body of work Jenkinson subjected himself to, for the betterment of the residents and visitors to Keswick, took its toll on his well-being. He had been known as a strong and hearty man, but his friends noticed a serious change in him. Due to the workload he subjected himself to he worked well into the night on these projects and to the clearing of debts.

In 1891 he was known to be living as a lodger at 4 Southey Street, and recorded as a Common Writer of Guidebooks. On Tuesday 26th May 1891 he was travelling to Ingleton when he was struck down seriously ill. At the age of 52 years he had suffered a debilitating stroke and suffered paralysis and lost the power of speech. He was a single man, but on 2nd June his nearest family had him taken to the Essex Asylum at Brentwood, London, where he could receive the best care to hopefully aid his recovery. That outcome never occurred and following a period of three months debility, he died there at 1pm on Friday 28th August. He was interred in West Ham Cemetery on Tuesday 1st September with his brother (Benjamin Shillito Jenkinson), and his wife, also his nephew and his wife, present. Due to the distance it could be understood that a man who was held in such reverence by the people of Keswick, should have so few at his funeral. Canon Rawnsley was so moved by his sad departure that he wrote one of his many sonnets for such occasions:



28th August 1891.

On moor and fell, in silent mountain places,

We meet him still to ask him of the way,

By pathless crag, where streams perplexing stray,

Each Shepherd’s track familiarity he traces;

Or, where the Greta by the grey town races

And brims its pools, now solemn and now gay,

He mingles with the old men at their play

Or gazes on the children’s happy faces.

But whether through green park or purple mountain,

Free on the sunny height, by shore or wood,

That never resting spirit haunts us still!

His heart of hope springs upward like a fountain,

Who blessed the far-off future, and whose will

Was ever set to serve the public good.

Now the funeral had occurred it fell on the good people of Keswick to recognise their friend who had given the best part of his life to the people and causes of Keswick, but what was the best way to do this? On Monday 14th September a public meeting was called and Mr. Mumberson put forward a suggestion that a public shelter or pavilion be built in his memory. A further meeting was held on Wednesday 23rd where Mr. Hewitson suggested an obelisk in Higher Fitz Park be at least erected. Canon Rawnsley seconded a motion to a monument with an inlaid medallion likeness and inscription. Finally, a set of gates were decided upon and on Thursday 6th July 1893, the same day as the Royal Marriage of the Duke of York, the Jenkinson Memorial Gates were formerly opened at Keswick. They were designed by Thomas Hodgson, (who was also the Fitz Park Treasurer) who also designed the medallion portrait that is displayed above them. The gates themselves cost £130, with Mr. Hodgson charging only for his material costs and workmen’s wages. The anti-friction rollers were supplied by Mr. Henry Powley. Canon Rawnsley gave a fine eulogy to his parted friend, saying he needed no memorial, as this was there for all to see by merely looking around them. He was a man later worn down in life by his public service, concerned also in the clearing of personal debt, and debts from the projects he had instigated on behalf of the town. Some believed that those ought to have been cleared prior to the erection of memorials, and people on the day agreed to work to that aim in the near future.  He died a poor man, but his memorials were the gates, the Old Folks Dinner and the books he had written, especially his lakes guide. 

The Memorial Gates
To this day the park stands as his greatest contribution. Other walking guidebooks have come along and inspired new generations. The early Jenkinson 1st edition books command a high price when they come up for auction. Still, the tribute to him is to sit and rest in the park, especially when the traffic is light, and one can sense the beauty he felt in his adopted town of Keswick 160 years previous. The houses are far more built up, the traffic cannot fully be escaped, but the eye can be cast upward, or the memory invoked, that peers onto the mountains and lakes that inspired Mr. Jenkinson on his first arrival. He was a single man, so there were no family to remember him. The town of Keswick however was his family, he provided for their wellbeing and they loved and remembered him.


Monday, 7 October 2019

Maryport Lifeboat - The Civil Service No5. 1886 - 1905

On Saturday 27th November 1886 a cargo of some importance to Maryport arrived at the railway station. It was the new lifeboat called The Civil Service No.5; it remained there until her inauguration ceremony on Thursday 2nd. The boat was so named as it had been supplied from the subscriptions made to the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund, originally commenced by Mr. Charles Dibdin, F.R.G.S., who was the Secretary of the Institution and this was the fifth boat paid for from the fund. It had 8,000 subscribers, all paying half a crown each and had raised £10,000 total. The lifeboat was 31 feet in length and rowed 10 oars, double banked. It was fitted with all modern improvements, including water ballast tanks, fitted amidships to increase stability and assist in weight reduction when transported.
On the day of inauguration the old Henry Nixon boat was reverentially placed upon her carriage for the final time and was to be taken to London to be broken up.
At 1pm the various societies gathered in Fleming Square and began to lead out at half past the hour. The chief interest was in the new lifeboat itself, with its crew of 10 oarsman, the coxswain, sub coxswain and bowman, all seated in the boat with their cork jackets on. The procession of 2,000 people wound its way to the boathouse at the dock. Inspector Grisdale and Sergeant Simon commanded a group of police officers to manage the 5,000 crowd who lined the dock itself. Once there the boat was formally handed to Lieutenant Tipping of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution(RNLI), who gratefully accepted it as part of their fleet of boats. The Institution had now been in existence since 1824 and was credited with saving over 32,000 lives. It now had over 300 lifeboats around the coast of the United Kingdom, of which he was responsible for 60, stretching from Holyhead to the north of Cumberland (which now had 5), taking in the Irish coast and the Isle of Man. The boats were preferably manned by local fishermen due to their personal knowledge of the coastal waters and their strength of arm, in the rowing of boats. The Lieutenant said that the coxswain and sub-coxswain were paid a small fee towards maintaining the boat, but the men were only paid for work done. He recognised that they went to sea to primarily save life, but the crew received £1 for going to sea through the night and 10 shillings if through the day.  If a man lost his life or was maimed while engaged in a rescue, then the institution stepped in to maintain his family. Only the previous year a 35-year-old Whitehaven lifeboat man called James William Henny was killed and the institution had subscribed £200 for the maintenance of his family; this information was received with loud cheers from the crowd. At the conclusion he formally handed the boat to the local Secretary, Mr. Senhouse, who after a short speech, then asked the Reverend E. Sampson, of Maryport, to perform the services. The christening was performed by Mrs. Senhouse, who formally named the boat and broke the customary bottle of champagne against her hull. The proceedings closed with an evening concert at the Athenaeum, where the crew were seated in the gallery in full lifeboat uniform and headgear.

A slipway was built for the Maryport lifeboat and in February 1887 the RNLI in London accepted a payment for this from the Civil Service fund of £242 6s.

On Tuesday 21st June 1887 a lifeboat race took place at Whitehaven which sportingly pitted the Civil Service No. 5 of Maryport, against the Dodo of Workington, and the Elizabeth Leicester of Whitehaven. The race was over a distance of 6 miles by either option of sailing or rowing. The race was won by the Maryport vessel followed by Workington, then Whitehaven, with prizes of £8, £5, and £2, respectively. When the result was received at Maryport the news was received with 'great satisfaction'.

On Wednesday 19th October 1887, trials were undertaken where the lifeboat was capsized several times in Senhouse Dock by use of a steam crane. The boat was then taken outside into the sea where she performed admirably under sail. Lieutenant Tipping and her crew were highly satisfied with her performance.

The lifeboat was called out to a Norwegian barque, the William Leavitt, on the morning of Saturday 25th November 1888. It had sent two distress signals, having parted with its anchor in a storm off Workington and had beached 7 miles higher in the Solway, 300 yards out from the high water mark at Dub Mill Ledge. The Maryport steam tug Senhouse had managed to get to her first and had saved the whole crew of 16 souls. Part of the cargo of timber was salvaged, but the ship itself became a total loss. Letters of appreciation were received by the Maryport Steam Shipping Company who owned the tug, and the Maryport Lifeboat. They were sent by the Swedish and Norwegian Vice Consulate, on the request of Captain Gude of the William Leavitt. The letter to the lifeboat station acknowledged that although saved by the tug, had it not reached them first, then the captain knew that the lifeboat would have continued in its perilous journey and would itself have rescued the crew.

Earlier to the rescue of the William Leavitt crew, on Thursday 22nd November, the Estrella de Chile, a 556 tons registered iron sailing ship, built in Glasgow in 1867, had left Whitehaven harbour. She was initially towed for 3 miles by a tug, with a cargo of railway material bound for Rasario, but could not get beyond St. Bees Head, due to the storm conditions. She was pushed back into the Solway and grounded on Robin Rigg sandbank on Saturday night, after striking the botttom three times. Lights were seen from Maryport, but no distress rockets; these lights eventually disappeared from view. The next morning nothing could initially be seen out at sea, but as the visibility gradually improved, at about 2pm, Captain Nelson, the harbour master, saw through powerful binoculars what he took to be debris in the direction of Robin Rigg, 11 miles out to sea. He immediately fired the signal rocket for the lifeboat crew to assemble, which brought thousands down to the dock. At 3pm the lifeboat was launched and towed out by the steam tug Senhouse, with the crowds patiently standing in the rain to await the outcome of a hoped for rescue.

The Estrelle de Chile on Robin Rigg, with the steam tug Senhouse and the Civil Service No.5 lifeboat rescuing the crew.
The lifeboat crew were: John Benn(coxswain), John Lannigan, Joseph Kirkbride, William Kirkbride, jun., John Lowery, William Ball Robinson, Samuel M'Graa, James Peat, Michael Hawkins, John Byers, John Scott, John Johnston, and John Robinson.
Captain Nelson and Captain Penrice, the Honorary Secretary of the lifeboat institution at Maryport, accompanied the tug. The weather was strong winds and the tug made slow progress, it being nearly dark when it was lost to the view of those waiting on shore. It was 6:10pm before the re-entered the harbour, towing a fully laden lifeboat. The tug lit a 'flare-up' light to show they had been successful and the whole harbour let out a tremendous cheer. 
On arrival at Robin Rigg the tug and lifeboat had found the hull of the vessel under water with the crew having taken to the rigging. The men had nearly succumbed to the cold, but the sight of rescue vessels had reinvigorated them. The lifeboat separated from the tug, but found great difficulty in getting to the stricken men. Eventually they loaded up with some of crewmembers and tried to get them to the tug. Due to the weather they could not transfer them, so had to return to the sunken ship and take every crew member on board. One French sailor out of fear was refusing to leave and had to be physically pulled off the rigging, by ropes and thrown off the ship by the carpenter. All were saved, with the exception of Donald Napier the mate. A couple of hours prior to the arrival of the lifeboat, with the captain and one other crew member, had fallen from the rigging. The captain and other man managed to re-scale the rigging, but the mate was washed away. He had managed to grab the back stay for several seconds as his loss was excruciatingly played out in the face of the crew. He was 25 years old, from Lieth, and was a married man. Once at Maryport the benumbed men were taken to the Coffee House where a roaring fire was glowing; the captain taken to The Golden Lion Hotel.
On Monday the shipwrecked crew were presented with new suits and left for their respective homes, after being given a sum of money from a representative of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society, even though none were members. They were extremely grateful for this and the kindness shown to them by the people of Maryport.

On the morning of Saturday 31st January 1891, a terrible storm struck the coast of West Cumberland, the likes of which had not been seen for many years. The ebb tide turned an hour earlier than listed, due to the ferocity of the sea. Between 8 and 9 o'clock a small vessel was seen in distress off Maryport harbour and a rocket signal was immediately fired to alert the lifeboat crew. The vessel was the Wave trawler of Whitehaven and it was driven onto the north shore. Naval Reserve men entered the water up to their necks and threw a line to the vessel, but this uninviting method of escape did not appeal to the trawler crew. Sgt. Major Smith went so far into the water that the waves came over his head and two others had to assist him back. Samuel Hardingham, a coastguard man, managed to get to the wreck and it was at that point that the lifeboat rounded the north pier, so the captain opted for that method of rescue of his crew. However, despite their best efforts the lifeboat drifted to leeward; the anchor had been dropped on the windward side, but had little effect. The lifeboat was striking the bottom and in danger of being smashed. It fired red rockets and the crowds then ran to its aid, leaving the trawler. That crew then took to its own punts, but they overturned and the crew returned to their stricken ship. Captain Nelson and 5 other men then came from the shore in a skiff and managed to get the trawler crew off their vessel and safely to the shore. The lifeboat was still at serious risk, but after slipping the anchor and breaking an oar, they managed to get into deeper and safer water and set the sail for Silloth. The coxswain was to later comment later that the tribulations around the trawler were nothing in comparison to the Silloth journey. The trawler crew were removed to the custom house, where every attention was given to them. The master commented on him having fished for 40 years and had never before experienced conditions that bad. Their fares home were paid for by the Shipwrecked Mariner's Society. 
Later that day another trawler which had lost its sails, struck the woodwork of the pier. The Angus Glover of Preston, put into Maryport that afternoon in a distressed condition. She had lost her master at sea, he had been washed overboard. A sloop, the Go-Ahead, of Whitehaven, had foundered off Workington that Saturday morning; all three crew were lost to the raging waves.

Friday 30th October 1891 saw the lifeboat returned to Maryport following certain modifications, particularly the raising of the deck. Practice drills were regularly conducted with the boat, and example being the afternoon of Tuesday 9th May 1893. The launch was satisfactory, with John Benn still as the coxswain. It lasted from 3:35pm to 6:45pm, and was put under sail to the lightship and back.

On Tuesday 6th February 1894, a barque supposed to be the Vale of Doon, bound for Silloth was believed to be in distress passing Maryport. The vessel was showing a flag for a pilot, the weather was thick and stormy. A telegram was sent to Silloth to see if it had arrived, which was negative, so a watch was kept all night from Maryport. On the Wednesday morning a barque was seen a mile off Maryport, at the lightship, flying a flag of distress in a strong gale. The lifeboat was launched at 11am, towed out by the steam tug Dunrobin. Once contact was established with the captain it was found to be the Trinidad and was at anchor, needing no assistance. It had set off from Workington with rails, towed past St. Bees Head by a tug, but due to stress of weather had been compelled to put back.

On Saturday 6th October 1900, a ship was in distress off Maryport and the lifeboat was called. The ship was drifting towards Robin Rigg sandbank. It was a stormy night with a high flood tide. While the lifeboat crew were made ready and the necessary arrangements made to launch, the crowd that had gathered were becoming impatient at the extended delay. An Inspector Holmes of the Cumberland Sea Fisheries shouted, "Will nobody go?" At that two men volunteered to set out with Mr. Holmes and the three went out in a small vessel to effect a rescue. It was around an hour from the firing of the flares to the launch of the lifeboat, towed by the steam tug Netherhall. On the arrival of the three men at they lightship, they found the stricken vessel was on Robin Rigg and had split in two with the captain and seven crew having been in the rigging of one section. They were now in a boat put off the Silloth steamer Kittiwake. It was at this point that the Netherhall and the Maryport lifeboat arrived and the saved men were transferred to the Netherhall and later landed at Maryport. The men had been in a critical condition and the vessel was the Topdal, bound for Whitehaven with a cargo of Pitch Pine. It had been in distress off the Isle of Man on the previous Thursday, saved by the Ramsey lifeboat. On the Saturday the captain had decided to run for Whitehaven in the absence of the arrival of a pilot. It had been 8 miles off St. Bees when the wind increased and blew it off course.

The steam tug, Netherhall.
The delay of the lifeboat caused an inquiry to be launched by the committee of management of the RNLI, on 8th November. Following their investigation they arrived at three findings against the coxswain which were published. They criticised his apparent apathy in not readying the crew at 6pm and launching the boat; he ought also have not returned home at 7pm, once the boat was got ready; and once the signal was fired he took too long in launching the boat. They were of a mind to dismiss him, but for his past excellent service and issued a severe reprimand instead, warning him that any further incident would bring about dismissal.

On Wednesday 3rd December 1902 the boat redeemed itself with an early launch in readiness for any reports of distress by fishermen caught out in a sudden storm. Boats could not return to the harbour and the lifeboat was credited with saving five lives that stormy day. Some criticism was levelled by a captain for not keeping alongside his frail vessel, but the local press emphasised the importance of the lifeboat in saving life, not property.

The Hougomont was a 2,261 tons register 4 masted barque on a voyage from San Francisco to Liverpool. It was carrying a 4,000 ton cargo consisting of 1,000 tons of wheat, 1,000 tons of barley, numerous bales of sea weed, 32,000 cases of tinned apricots and pears, and 24,000 cases of salmon. It commenced its journey on 9th October 1902 and due to difficulties in landing it eventually had to anchor off Maryport on the morning of Wednesday 4th March 1903. The Brilliant Star, a powerful tug was subsequently sent by the owners to escort her to Liverpool. It arrived at Maryport on the Thursday morning and set off with the ship in the afternoon. When day broke on Friday 6th the Hougomont could be seen on its own off Allonby, and in distress. The tug had needed to release the vessel in the Solway and seek its own shelter from the terrible storm. A telegram was sent for the Maryport lifeboat to attend and save the reported 32 crew. The Hougomont was by now broadside on the beach with the crew having to take to the mizzen rigging, the foremast having been lost in the forenoon. It was 2pm before the lifeboat reached the vessel and managed to save all the crew, the captain, his wife and two officers had decided to remain with their ship.  The cargo was strewn across the shores and retrieved by the locals of the area. The Hougomont was the largest vessel ever grounded on the Cumbrian coast.
 An inquiry behind closed doors was conducted on 12th March at Maryport Town Hall into why the lifeboat had taken so long to reach the vessel. From the circumstances gleaned in the town, at the time of the report it transpired that seven of the lifeboat crew had refused to sail out in the lifeboat, which had been offered to be sailed by Inspector Holmes of the Cumberland Sea Fisheries. Only when other men volunteered to man the boat was it able to attend the scene of the Hougomont and save the crew. The decision of the Board of inquiry was:
  •  That, while not calling into question the personal courage of the coxswain of the lifeboat, the committee considers that he should have shown more energy in the necessary steps of getting the lifeboat to sea, such as obtaining the services of the tug, filling up the numbers of the crew, encouraging the waverers, and calling for volunteers. He is admonished to assume greater personal responsibility in these matters for the future.
  •  That after fully considering all the evidence the committee consider the seven men mentioned had no adequate excuse for leaving the lifeboat, and are therefore dismissed from the crew.
  •  That for the future there is to be no regular enrolled crew at the station, the places for exercise or service being filled up from the first comers so long as they are known to the coxswain as competent men. The seven men mentioned above, are, however, never to be employed.
The vessel was eventually recovered at high water (12:30pm) on Sunday 15th March by the Liverpool Salvage Company. Three powerful tugs were used to finally pull her from the Cumbrian shore.

The Hougomont being recovered.
On the night of Wednesday 18th May 1904, the little Scottish schooner called Jane, of Garlieston, went ashore on the North Bank at Maryport, carrying a cargo of pit timbers. The vessel sent off signals of distress and the lifeboat was launched. It managed to rescue the three crew and landed them safely at Maryport; the schooner itself was a total wreck.

On the night of Tuesday 6th September 1904 the Allonby postman saw what he believed to be lights of distress out at sea; they appeared closer to the Scottish side than the English coast. He cycled to Maryport to alert the authorities who were initially troubled, as it was not a stormy night, although it had been raining. The lifeboat was however launched around midnight and went in the direction of Robin Rigg, although the crew found nothing. They continued to the Scottish side, but again found no vessel in distress. They eventually returned at 9am. It was later believed that the lights had been fireworks from the Scottish coast, but messages had earlier been passed warning of festivities taking place. Whatever, the cause, the original report had been given with good intent and the local papers praised the crew for the commitment.

By May 1905 the Civil Service No. 5 lifeboat had served the town of Maryport for 19 years. Now it was to be replaced by a new and updated bigger vessel which was of the 'Watson' type: it was 38 ft long and 9ft 4ins wide. It had 10 double banked oars and was fitted with two drop keels, to improve stability. The new vessel was also provided by the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund and was to continue the name of 'Civil Service No. 5'. So commenced a third chapter in the saving of life off the coastline of Maryport.

(All photographs and pictures used are by the kind permission of Maryport Maritime Museum)