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ALFRED CORRY was a 'Norfolk & Suffolk' type non-self-righting, sailing and rowing lifeboat. She was 44ft long, had 2 masts and her weight (without gear or crew) was 8.3 tons. She had a crew of 18. After 1908 ALFRED CORRY was launched from a specially built 'platform' or slipway in the newly refurbished harbour at Southwold in Suffolk.
During the course of the First World War ALFRED CORRY was launched a total of 14 times, under sail, saving a total of 15 lives. Her first service of the war was to assist a local fishing boat, the ORIENT, which had got into difficulties off Southold harbour. Her first service resulting from enemy action occurred in the summer of 1915.
At about 8am on 18 July 1915 an explosion was observed on a large steamer, and it was reported that she had been torpedoed. She was the SS BATOUM of Swansea, which was loaded with fuel oil and was carrying a crew of 33, six of whom were killed by the explosion. Some of the crew were seen leaving the stricken vessel in the ship’s boats, but as the vessel lowered in the water the ALFRED CORRY was launched. The ship was eventually refloated and towed into Sheerness, accompanied by a naval escort.
Her largest saving of life occurred on 12 November 1915. Just after daybreak a schooner-rigged vessel, the brigantine JOHN of Grimsby,was observed coming in from the eastward in a gale. She was seen to be in a dangerous position near Sizewell Bank, and the ALFRED CORRY was launched. When the lifeboat reached the ship the captain reported that he had been aground, but on letting go of his anchor the vessel swung clear.
On 11 October 1915 she went to the assistance of the Government Patrol boat AMY on Sizewell Bank. Her last service of the war was on 27 February 1918, when she went to assist a Government Seaplane which had ditched one mile south of Southwold town. In addition to the service provided by ALFRED CORRY, the Southwold Number 2 lifeboat, RESCUE, a rowing lifeboat, was launched on 4 occasions during the war.
In all ALFRED CORRY was launched 41 times on service and saved 47 lives. In 1912 she rescued the crew of the Dutch schooner VOORWARTS, which had gone ashore in a SE gale near Minsmere.
During her service life she has just three Coxswains; John Cragie for her first 5 years 1893-1898; Sam May for the next 20 years including her wartime service 1898-1918; and Charles Jarvis for the last 3 months of her service in 1918. Coxswain May was presented with a Certificate of Service on his retirement on 11 October 1918.
In her time ALFRED CORRY was crewed by men from the local families of Southwold, including the Palmer, Hurr, Goldsmith, Waters, Upcraft, Ladd, Peck, Stannard, Herrington, Rogers, Took, Barber, Crickmore and Chapman families.
On 2 November 1918 the Kessingland Number 1 lifeboat, BOLTON, was temporarily loaned to the Southwold lifeboat station whilst the condition of ALFRED CORRY was reviewed. In 1919, after much hard work during the War, ALFRED CORRY was found to be in need of considerable repair and was sold out of service.
Where is she now?
ALFRED CORRY is owned by the Alfred Corry Trust and operates as an indoor museum in a dedicated building, the 1923 former Cromer Lifeboat House. It is located at Ferry Road, Southwold, Suffolk, IP18 6NG.
She is open to the public between 1 April and 31 October on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 2 and 4pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 12noon and between 2 and 5pm. Between 1 November and 31 March it is open on Bank Holidays and fine weekends only between 10.30 and 12noon and between 2pm and 3.30pm.
A model of ALFRED CORRY made in 1913 by the Secretary, Major E.R. Cooper, still hangs in Southwold Church.
The Alfred Corry Museum Fact sheet.
Southwold Lifeboats, The Lifeboat, 1 August 1918, 236.