Remembering the past in lifeboat’s brand new home

Coxswain Stuart Tibbett, mayor Cllr Cyril Marsburg, The Rev Matthew Pollard and Richard Dunk, chairman of Bridlington RNLI
Coxswain Stuart Tibbett, mayor Cllr Cyril Marsburg, The Rev Matthew Pollard and Richard Dunk, chairman of Bridlington RNLI

Every year, Bridlington’s lifeboat community gathers at the Priory to remembver the victims of the Great Gale in 1871.

But with the church currently out of action while a new lighting system is installed, organisers decided to switch the service to the new RNLI boathouse.

The crew line up to greet guests.

The crew line up to greet guests.

The station only opened last year, and it welcomed Bridlington’s new lifeboat the Antony Patrick Jones in November, but on Sunday, it became a place of worship for the first time.

Around 260 people, a mixture of the Priory’s congregation and the lifeboat crew and their friends, family and supporters, filled the seafront building to remember those who gave their lives in one of the Yorkshire coast’s biggest maritime disasters.

The service was led by the Rev Matthew Pollard, rector at The Priory.

He said: “I would like to express my gratitude to the whole lifeboat crew community for all their hospitality and hard work. They were marvellous.

Around 260 people attended the service.

Around 260 people attended the service.

“The building worked surprisingly well as a worship area. It was remarkably 
ecclesiastical. You didn’t get the impression you were sitting in what was designed to be a hangar for a boat. It worked as a church.

“People appreciated the opportunity to see the boat house and it was fitting to have the service there as we commemorate the lives lost in 1871 but also to pray for the members of today’s lifeboat crew.

“It is great for them to make the pilgrimage to the Priory every year but it was good for us to receive their hospitality this year.”

On Saturday, RNLI crew members had gone to the memorial in the grounds of the Priory to lay a wreath.

Andy Brompton, Bridlington Lifeboat deputy launching authority, said: “The coxswain, crew and station management team were only too pleased to assist Rev Pollard and the Priory congregation with their Great Gale service.

“The boathouse was almost full and the service and the location were well received by those who attended.

“Local men who saved many and then valiantly gave their own lives for mariners they didn’t even know will always be remembered for their courage and defiance by the crews of today.

“The service in the new boathouse took place only yards from where the disaster happened made it more poignant.”