Storm Warriors 1879
Is a book about the work of the Ramsgate Lifeboat
A4 stapled card cover 108 Pages
This book is mostly about the work of the Ramsgate lifeboat, when Rev. John Gilmore was the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Ramsgate many of his evenings were spent in the rectory with the Ramsgate lifeboat men waiting for the sound of the maroons, that would send them out to try and rescue the people stranded on a wreck. John Gilmore's writings about the work of the lifeboat, of which this book forms by far the greater part, were a major factor in gaining public recognition for the work of lifeboat men and consequentially in the funding of the lifeboat service.
Ramsgate can boast one of the first lifeboats in England, we had a lifeboat before the formation of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. In the days before it was practical to build a boat that was both small enough to use in sea rescue, but with an engine powerful enough to resist storm and tide, the combination of a steam tug and rowed lifeboat was used in many rescues. Most of the rescues were of ships that had gone aground on the deadly Goodwin sands where it would be far too shallow for the steam tug to venture. Often the combination of storm and tide made it impossible for the lifeboat powered as it was by oars and sails to get to the vessel that had floundered. So the tug towed the lifeboat round the outside of the sand until it was upwind of the wreck and then let it go across the Goodwins. While the lifeboat was doing its work the tug would steam round to the other side of the Goodwins in the hope of picking up the lifeboat with those rescued aboard.
It gives me great pleasure to get one of the most important Ramsgate local history books available again after a gap of over 100 years during which it was out of print. Although I gather several thousand copies were published it is very difficult and expensive to obtain copies of the Victorian edition.
The only picture in the original edition of this book was the frontispiece so I have added some extra ones to make it more interesting. Some of them are from a slightly later period however I hope you will agree they help to show aspects of the lifeboat service before motorised lifeboats. Pictures of lifeboats in this area that date from before 1880 are almost impossible to find mainly because it was John Gilmore who kindled public interest in the subject.
Ramsgate harbour as a refuge for ships anchored in the downs, its very existence saving lives of those who with nowhere else to go in a westerly gale would have very probably have been shipwrecked on the Goodwins. The people of the towns along the southeast coast who for hundreds of years have offered services and in cases of dire need rescue to the shipping off our coast. The dread Goodwins are still claiming vessels and lives even in these days of advanced navigational technology. It's a complex and interesting subject that has captivated me at the moment. Well this is my forth book on the subject. Memorials of the Goodwin Sands by George Byng Gattie, Log of a Sky Pilot by Thomas Stanley Treanor and An Historical Report on Ramsgate Harbour by John Smeaton being the others. If you too, like my wife and me, have fallen under the spell of this fascinating subject you will be glad to know that I have already started work on the reprint of The Cry From the Sea and The Answer From the Shore by Thomas Stanley Treanor.
My thanks are due to Dave Richards author of Ramsgate August 1940 for providing some of the pictures and to Don Long author of several publications about the history of Ramsgate for persuading me that this was an important Ramsgate book and worth buying, through the post, for a considerable sum, although I had never seen it before.
Michaels Bookshop Ramsgate 6th January mmvii