LIFEBOATS – Launch of the new Lifeboat at Redcar. “The United Free Gardeners”

Accreditation The Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 03/08/1877.


            The new life board given to Redcar by the United Order of Free Gardeners was launched on Monday last (30/07), under auspicious circumstances. The weather was magnificent, and great eclat was given to the proceedings by the presence of Mrs. Dawson, of Weston Hall, who performed the ceremony of christening the boat, and with her usual munificence, gave £100 towards the fund for building the new boat-house. From an early hour the town presented a scene of unwonted bustle and excitement. Special trains will run from Leeds, Sheffield, Harrogate, York, Spennymoor, Halifax, Crook, Darlington, and Guisborough, besides numerous relief trains from the Teesside towns. It is calculated that upwards of 20,000 persons entered the town by rail alone, and in addition large numbers came by steamer from Newcastle, Sunderland, Whitby, Hartlepool, &c., also by conveyance from places within an easy district. The ninety odd lodges of which the United Order of Free Gardeners is composed, were more or less represented at the launch, while some of the lodges belonging the towns from which special trains had been run, came in a body, those from Tynemouth, Harrogate, and Middlesbrough all been accompanied by bands of music. Towards noon, a procession was formed on Coatham pier, the members of the Order wearing the badges of their craft, and each lodge being distinguished by its own banner or other insignia. The Rev. W. Milburne empowering (vicar of Redcar) attended as chaplain of the Order, and Mrs. Dawson, accompanied by J. G. Thompson, Esq., occupied a carriage in the procession, which proceeded along the Esplanade, to the new lifeboat house at the foot of King Street. Here the lifeboat, mounted on its carriage, joined the procession. The board has been built by Mr. Jackson, of South Shields, on the model of the old Redcar lifeboat, but is a little larger being 33 ft. long, and 111/2 ft. in the beam. The carriage was said to be on an improved principle, but the improvements have not at any rate the merit of stability, for the procession had only got a long, High Street, as far as the Red Lion Hotel, when the spokes of the wheel gave way, and both carriage and boat had to be left- the procession being those short of its principal attraction. On arriving at the stand, which had been erected at the foot of Bath Street, for the proceedings in connection with the launch, a long delay took place while the board was being transferred from its own carriage to that belonging to the old lifeboat. When this was successfully accomplished, the boat was run down Bath Street to the front of the stand, on which were assembled Mrs. Dawson, Captain Dawson, the Misses Dawson, Mr. J. Dodds, M.P., Mr. M. B. Dodds, Mr. J. G. Thomson, the Rev. W. Milburne, Mr. R. Ferens, Mr. J. W. and the Misses Bennett, Dr. Deas, and others, together with the life boat committee of management, and a number of the principal offices of the Order, all being at length in readiness.

Mr. Joseph Dodds, M.P., stepped forward amidst applause, and said he appeared before them that afternoon as the organ and mouthpiece of the United Order of Free Gardeners. His first duty was, he was told, to apologise to them for the delay, which had occurred, but as they would no it had arisen from circumstances which was entirely beyond the control of the management committee, he need not appeal further to their indulgence in reference to the matter. As to the accident itself, of which he had only that moment heard, he was reminded of a very old and true saying, “that a bad beginning very often makes a good ending.” (Cheer.) Let them hope and trust that the bad beginning which had been made that day in a mishap happening to one of the wheels of the boat’s carriage would make a good ending with regard to the life boat which it would be his pleasing duty to present. He believed that many of those present, who were connected with the United Order of Free Gardeners new the circumstances under which the boat was about to be presented; but he had no doubt there were many in the large assemblage he saw before him who did not know of these circumstances, and therefore he had been desired to state them very briefly. He had also been urged and admonished by his friend the Rev. Mr. Milburne, the chaplain of the Marine Launch, Redcar, to be exceedingly brief in his observations, and he would promise them he would obey his orders. Two years ago, at the annual grand meeting of the United Order of Free Gardeners held at Newcastle, it was decided to present, by voluntary subscriptions amongst the brethren of the Order, a lifeboat which, with the carriage and equipment, should cost £600. Later on, the Order, at its annual meeting held at West Bromwich in 1876 confirmed that resolution, and the money required either had then been all was in the way of being subscribed. It was also unanimously resolved that the life board, which was to be presented, should be stationed at Redcar, (Cheers,). A local committee consisting of some of the more active brethren of the United Order of Free Gardeners resident in the locality of Redcar, was appointed to make the needful arrangements, and they at once put themselves – has it was proper they should do – in communication with the local committee connected with the National Life boat Institution. From the body of gentleman, they’ve received throughout the greatest possible assistance and encouragement; but they had all to regret that when the arrangement which was contemplated in that locality was communicated to the National Life boat Institution in London, they resolved not to accede to it unless the boat was constructed according to their own model. No Matter; those who had to make this useful and magnificent present to the stalwart fishermen of Redcar – who had so often manned a bought in times of danger and in stormy weather – new the kind of ship in which they liked to put to sea – (cheers) – they knew the kind of vessel, which for nearly a century at carried their forefathers over the stormy billows, and enabled them to bring to shore brethren who were in peril of their lives, and knowing how well the old boat had served them in the past, they naturally desired to have another built on the same line, and with which the men could plunge into the furious element when necessity required them to do so. There stuck to their text, and the United Order of Free Gardeners had stuck to theirs, and the result had been that instead of making use of the old lifeboat building, without cost, a new building had to be erected for which new land was required, and therefore, several hundred pounds additional expense had necessarily been incurred. That fund had all so be, would be raised by the voluntary contributions of members of the Order, and such of their friends as were desirous to unite with them. (Cheers.) He had no told them as briefly as possible the circumstances under which the life boat had to be presented to them. They all hoped that, inconsequence of ships being better built, and owing to an improvement in the laws relating to ship being; inconsequence of the great improvements being made in the Tees, whereby it would be constituted in some considerable degree a harbour of refuge, together with other efforts of a similar kind in other parts of the immediate locality – the necessity for a life boat on the coast would be exceedingly diminished; yet for many years hence, there would be times when such a vessel would be required, manned by the gallant fellows living near the beach, and in order that they may have a bought entirely suitable and in which they will have full confidence, he had been asked by his brother Free Gardeners to present, threw brother John George Thompson, the lifeboat to the local commission stationed in Redcar, and the locality. (Cheers.) These gentlemen would give most careful attention to the requirements of those who would have to man the lifeboat, would be provided with needful funds, and the men employed would be practically efficient. They could only hope that if ever the boat were required. It would meet to the fullest extent the noble aspirations of those who had designed it as a gift, and those who had up to the present time being connected with the movement. He had now on behalf of the brethren of the United Order of Free Gardeners, to present the boat, through Brother Thomson to the local committee, for the service of the immediate locality. (Cheers.) It would then be the duty of the lady near to him (Mrs. Dawson), whose acquaintance he had the pleasure to make that day at Redcar, but whose name had for many years been associated with good works to name the boat. (Loud cheers.) He was sure when she did so, she would receive from them such a welcome as her many acts of kindness, charity, and benevolence in that and other localities entitled her to. (Cheers.)

Mr. J. G. Thompson, to whom had been deputed the duty of acknowledging the gift, stepped into the boat at the end of Mr. Dodds speech. Asking the coxswain, if he were ready, and receiving a hearty “Aye, aye, Sir.” he directed him to man the boat. The crew which had been waiting alongside, then jumped aboard, and made several rounds of cheers, and took their places. He said that he was proud to feel that the United Free Gardeners Committee had asked him to be the humble recipient of that handsome gift. He accepted the life boat in their name with the greatest pride and pleasure, and he fervently hoped – and he was sure he would be joined by all – that the boat might at all times go on her errands of mercy with eminent success. He had to express on the part of the committee their warmest thanks to Mr. Dodds for his services on that occasion – services, he might add, which were in keeping with the kindness and ability which had marked is long and arduous public career. (Cheers.) On behalf of the Marine Lodge, he had to offer to their brethren who had come from other lodges that morning, the heartiest welcome and he hoped they would often come to see that their life boat was managed and maintained efficiently and properly. (Cheers.) He had also to mention another word in congratulating them upon the auspicious event of that day. They had shown the world that they not only possessed great principles, but that they were ready to put them into practice, and he trusted that the great principles of their Order, carried out in their integrity, would continue to beautify and adorn their institution until time should be no more. (Loud cheers.) He was afraid he was trespassing on their patients, for he meant to be very brief, but before concluding he could not refrain from mentioning the kindness of an estimable nobleman, the late Lord Zetland, who had done so much for the old lifeboat at Redcar, and the crew who manned her. (Hear, hear.) The name of Lord Zetland was loved and revered by everybody, and he was proud to say that the present Earl was following in the steps of his illustrious relative. (Cheers.) He might also mention to other names – Mr. Yeoman, and Mr. J. T. Wharton – who had done much for the interest and benefit of the Redcar fishermen. In asking Mrs. Dawson to name the boat, he said that her name was a household word in Redcar, her many acts of kindness, having ended her to the fishermen and other inhabitants of the place, and the eulogy of Mr. Dodds was in every way deserved. (Cheers.)

Mrs. Dawson then came to the front of the platform, and in a clear and distinct voice, said: From the bottom of my heart I wish your boat every success, and christen it “The United Free Gardeners.” With these words she, in the time honoured fashion, dashed a bottle of wine against the boat’s side. The band then struck up, and before the Cheers, which rent the air as this act was done had ceased to reverberate the coxswain gave the word, and in the twinkling of an eye. The boat was under the impulse of the crowd run down the beach to the waters edge, and soon she was riding proudly in the water, and answering well to the united efforts of her stalwart crew.

In the course of the afternoon, the crew took out Mrs. Dawson and a party of ladies and gentleman, and whilst on the water two of the boat’s crew jumped overboard to give an opportunity of seeing the effect of the lifebelts which each man is provided.

A oblique luncheon was served in the Central Hall at three o’clock by Mr. T. C. Jackson, of the Black Lion Hotel, Stockton. The number who sat down, however, was comparatively small. Mr. J. G. Thompson occupied the chair, and Mr. M. B. Dodds, the vice-chair. After luncheon, a short tour’s list was gone through. The tallest of “The Queen,” having been honoured, the Chairman, in a few appropriate sentences proposed “The health of Mr.  Joseph Dodds, M.P.” coupling with the tallest the name of Mr. M. B. Dodds, who responded. Bro. Walton then proposed “Health and prosperity to Mrs. Dawson,” a toast, which was enthusiastically received, and he announced that Mrs. Dawson had given a cheque for £100 to the lifeboat fund.

In the evening, a number of fishermen were entertained at a substantial tea in the Central Hall, which brought the day’s proceedings to a close.


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