2024 Treasure House RNLI Debrief

11th July 2024

2024 Treasure House RNLI Debrief

John Carbis


John Carbis was so delighted to see our presentation model of the Hasborough/Happisburgh Lifeboat, Huddersfield 1888 (above) that he returned on the second day with the Carbis Family Archive relating to his ancestor Thomas Carbis, Coxswain of Penzance (Penlee) Lifeboat who won two RNLI silver medals saving 16 lives from the ‘Bessie’ in 1866 and the barque ‘North Britain’ in 1868.

The Penzance lifeboat, ‘Richard Lewis,’ going out to the ‘North Britain,’ wrecked in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, England. Wood engraving, English, 1868.  Coxswain Carbis won a silver medal for this rescue.

‘The Richard Lewis life-boat landing the shipwrecked crew at Penzance ‘.  The Illustrated London News (1867).

Barry Davey

Another visitor, Barry Davey, regaled us with tales of stowing away aged 15, emerging in the Caribbean, where he feared he would be thrown overboard, working in the ferocious conditions of the Greenland fishing fleets and travelling the world as an itinerant sailor.  He finally joined Trinity House, the service responsible for maintaining navigation buoys and light houses around Great Britain.  He was nearly overwhelmed when Martyn Downer showed him Rev. Dr. Samuel Glasse’s Trinity House silver presentation cup and cover 1795.  Later in the week he reappeared with a gift for us of a miniature Chelsea Pensioner like himself, which we stationed on a working model of a ship’s lifeboat on davits, as if contemplating stowing away once again!

Clive Loveless

The RNLI display also reminded fellow antiques dealer, Clive Loveless of Primal Art, of the worst days of his life.  On a return trip from a successful Plymouth – St Malo yacht race he and two others were caught in a tremendous storm.  Eventually they were rescued by the Torbay lifeboat.  He purchased a catalogue and sent us an email with the following tribute ‘I was so touched by your stand with wonderful models, all bringing memories from 44 years ago when the Torbay {Lifeboat} rescued me and three others from the most terrifying 3 days of my life.  I was born by the sea and still love it despite this frightening experience… which taught me more about the force of nature! Thank you and I am member of RNLI charity making my donation faithfully every year in gratitude for my life.’

Attached to the email were a press cutting and two photos

The Swedish lifeboat ‘Willam and Anne Chillingworth’ aka Lifbåt 416

On the third day a gentleman from the Limehouse Docks approached with a photograph of a yellow and blue Beeching-Peake self-righting lifeboat!  He was comparing it to our red, white and blue ones and explained his interest.  He was part of the crew who rowed Lifbåt 416 back into the Limehouse Basin, her home yard, from Poole where she had jointly marked the RNLI’s 200th anniversary and her own heritage.

Lifbåt 416, originally called Willam and Anne Chillingworth was built in London in 1868 as a gift for the King of Sweden from Queen Victoria’s London wine merchant James Gunston Chillingworth.  He presented the lifeboat, complete with oars, sails and a wagon to move it, as an “acknowledgement for the universal kindness shown to him during his recent visit to Stockholm and other parts, and for the courteous reception accorded him by his Majesty”.

The lifeboat was constructed by Forrestt & Son’s boatyard in Limehouse.  The RNLI’s self-righting lifeboats, built by Forrestt’s between 1862 and 1899, are said to have saved upwards of 12,000 lives.  While most of their lifeboats were for the RNLI, a handful went overseas, usually as philanthropic gifts – such as this one for Sweden.  Delivered to Gothenburg, the lifeboat was initially more of an English curiosity until she was moved to the seafaring town of Skanör where she was in use right up to 1941, when motorised lifeboats surpassed her.  During her career, she was involved in rescues that saved at least 80 lives.  The lifeboat was fully restored in the 1990s and is now used to demonstrate how people saved lives long before engines and GPS existed.  ©London News.

The Amelia’s catastrophic maiden voyage, Scarborough, 1861 by Joseph Newington Carter

Finally, the story of Charlie discovering Joseph Newington Carter’s painting of The loss of the Scarborough Lifeboat Amelia, 1865 was picked up by the Southern Echo, the Lymington Times and The Scarborough News.  This resulted in a radio interview on Yorkshire radio which was aired on Thursday 27th June.

A dramatic painting showing a famous RNLI rescue attempt has been re-discovered after research showed the setting was north Yorkshire.  Previously it had been thought the scene was of a fishing boat either in Torquay, Devon.  In the 200th anniversary of the RNLI’s founding, renowned antique dealer Charles Wallrock spotted the Turner-esque artwork for sale.

His research has proven that it depicts an appalling disaster that unfolded on November 2nd 1861, a day when 24 lives were lost during a great storm and in mountainous seas.  It shows the Scarborough lifeboat Amelia on her maiden voyage battling to save the schooner Coupland.  The self-righting, 32ft, ten-oared rescue boat was dashed to pieces on the harbour wall and two of her crew were lost, with others seriously injured.

Hundreds watched the unfolding disaster from the slopes behind and three shore-based rescuers, including Lord Charles Beauclerk, were dragged out to sea and drowned.  The crew of Coupland survived after a line was blasted over the boat by a rocket and they were able to scramble ashore.

Eight Board of Trade medals for gallantry in ‘Saving Life at Sea’ were awarded along with six RNLI medals and monetary grants.  Charles Wallrock who runs Wick Antiques in Lymington, Hants, has included the re-discovered painting, in his new book ‘Britain on the High Seas – Heroic Endeavour’, which focuses on life-saving at sea.  A proportion of money raised from sales of the catalogue (so far over £700) will go to the RNLI Lymington.  ©Deep South Media.

Charles Wallrock and the painting he has rediscovered with other items in his RNLI collection

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