PEOPLE – THOMPSON, James. – Tees-mouth Lifeboat

 Accreditation Cleveland Standard 30/03/1935

Veteran Lifeboatman Retires

Redcar Coxswain’s


   The coxswain of the Tees-mouth lifeboat, Mr. James Thompson, a veteran in Redcar lifeboat work and member of a family whose services to this calling have extended through several generations, retired with great reluctance on Wednesday.
A recent order has fixed the age limit at 60 years of age. For three years Mr. Thompson has “obtained a reprieve” and been allowed to retain his position, a position you will agree, of no mean importance. Now that is has been decided that he should give way to a younger man, and thus terminates a splendid career in the service of needy mariners.
At the age of 17 Mr. Thompson first became attached to the lifeboat when he became a member of the Redcar rowing-boat “The Brothers”


   He had carried out his duties in two rowing-boats and three motor-boats, and has served under four coxswains – Joseph Burnicle, Michael Burnicle, William Upton, and John Stonehouse.
When a lifeboat station was opened at the Tees-mouth he left the Redcar crew to join this new venture and became a member of the “Bradford” crew, the first boat to be stationed there.
Altogether he has known 45 years’ continuous service without missing a practice, and being present on each occasion the the lifeboat was launched – truly a record of which to be proud.
During the War Mr. Thompson was second cox on the Tees-mouth lifeboat, and for that reason was unable to enlist.
One morning, out fishing in a small boat with Richard Dobson and his brother Jack Thompson, they noticed a German mine less the twenty yards away, on the surface of the water. They reported the presence of the mine, and H.M.S. “Lucy” put out from the naval base in the Tees and exploded it. The force of the explosion virtually shook Redcar.
On another occasion the lifeboat put out from the Tees-mouth to go to the Whitby hospital ship, the s.s. “Rohilla.” Going over a section of heavy seas the bottom of the boat was knocked in, the planks opened out, and it filled with water.
Luckily for the crew a tug, the “Sir John Pease,” came to their aid. That was the end of “The Brothers” and nearly the end of the crew. Dr. W. Mackinlay was in the lifeboat at the time.
Mr. Thompson, who will be 63 on Monday, was bowman for four years and second cox for 11 years before becoming coxswain, a position he held for 10 years. He claims to be a descendant of the famous Cleveland navigator Captain Cook. When he retired on Wednesday his brother, Mr. Jack Thompson was voted into the position.
The new cox, who is 52, first joined the lifeboat crew at the tender age of 16. He has been bowman for five years, and second cox for 10 years. His son Jack, now 19 years of age, is a member of the crew.
Mr. Jack Thompson has been in two rowing-boats, the “Two Brothers” and “Fifi and Charles,” and three motor lifeboats – “Bradford,” which came form Goodwin Sands; “Ethel Day Cartwell,” and the one of which he was on Wednesday appointed coxswain, the “J. W. r.”
Mr. Joe Stonehouse was appointed second cox – his father was previously coxswain of the lifeboat – and Mr. John Stonehouse was chosen bowman.


dean April 4, 2010 People & Characters