The hoveller fishing boat used by Cromer’s legendary lifeboat coxswain Henry Blogg this week arrived at Stalham for restoration by volunteers working with the Museum of the Broads, Stalham.
Old Henry was heavily decorated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and like all RNLI lifeboatman was a volunteer – he made his living catching the famous Cromer crabs.
The hoveller fishing boat differs from other fishing boats as it had a small deck at the bows enabling the fishermen to carry a small stove to boil water and make tea – which is of course essential for any boat belonging to Englishman, particularly if they’re working on the cold North Sea.
The boat is named the QJ&J – Queenie, Jack and Jim – and was named after Henry’s family members.
There have been a number of attempts over the years to save the historically important boat made from ash, larch and oak. Sadly, by the time it reached the museum, the stern was too bad to restore.
The plan is to restore the bow and return her to her Cromer home for exhibition next year.
When Henry Blogg retired in 1947, after 53 years service and at age 71, 11 years past the usual retiring date, he had been coxswain for 38 years of his service, during which he had launched 387 times and rescued 873 people. The photo above is from the Wikimedia.
Blogg is often referred to as ‘the greatest of the lifeboatmen’. Through a career that began in 1917 and included his near drowning in a service to the SS English Trader in 1941, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution three times and the silver medal four times, the George Cross, the British Empire Medal, and a series of other awards.
On his retirement, Blogg’s nephew ‘Shrimp’ Davies took over as coxswain. Here’s a link to Shrimp talking… And here’s another to Shrimp and the rest of his crew having a beer and a bit of step dancing.
Old Henry is still remembered in Cromer – there’s the splendid monument pictured above, and the town also has its RNLI Henry Blogg Museum.
My thanks to Malcolm Woods for reminding me of this anniversary.
The East Anglian Film Archive has some cracking stuff. Here’s a 1979 film in which local fisherman and legendary lifeboatman Shrimp Davies talks about life and work around the beaches of Cromer in Norfolk, and finishes up with some singing and stepdancing in a favourite pub. We’ve seen the last bit before, but the rest is new and it’s all interesting.
Here’s how the archive describes the short film:
‘Shots of the streets of Cromer, guided by Henry ‘Shrimp’ Davies. He shows Cromer town centre, Bob Davies’ Crab Shop, and the bust of lifeboatman Henry Blogg. He walks down to the beach to the crab boats which gives clear views of Cromer and its major buildings, including the Church and the Pier. A stills sequence, compares various scenes of Cromer in the 1970s with how they appeared in 1890. There seems to have been very little change. An interesting feature from this sequence are the bathing machines sitting on the beach. Crab boats are winched onto a trailer and then pulled up the beach by tractor and the crabs unloaded. There are shots of children playing on the beach and of a Punch and Judy man setting up. Concludes with shots of the interior of the Bath Hotel. Fisherman are singing and step-dancing to the accompaniment of Percy Brown on the accordion.’
I’d call that accordion a melodeon, but it’s still a great thing…
Btw, I love this photo of Blogg.
While we’re looking at the EAFA’s material, there’s a fabulous piece of 1902 footage showing herring drifters returning to port and Scottish fisher lassies on the Great Yarmouth’s quays, and a 1930s piece showing bad weather at Clacton in Essex – including a paddle steamer leaving Clacton Pier, probably in order to take holiday makers home to London despite the storm.