Town remembers victims of Great Gale

Bridlington Priory'Grant Walkington with his Long Service Award Medal'PA1106-26
Bridlington Priory'Grant Walkington with his Long Service Award Medal'PA1106-26

RESPECTS were paid to the seamen who lost their lives in the Great Gale of Bridlington on the 140th anniversary of the disaster.

The special service at the Priory has been an annual event in the town for over a century and on Sunday dozens of well-wishers, including current Lifeboat crew members and local dignitaries, including the mayor, met at the Priory to pay their respects to those killed in the 1871 gale.

The exact number who lost their lives in the tragedy is not known, though 40 vessels were destroyed by the stormy seas and Bridlington town closed down for the day to hold a mass funeral for the 43 bodies recovered from the beach.

It is thought that the actual numbers killed could be as many as 70 men, and this includes six heroic Harbinger lifeboat crewmembers who risked their lives by repeatedly entering the water to rescue stricken sailors.

Their bodies now rest at Bridlington Priory and at the service on Sunday wreaths were laid at their memorial.

Current Lifeboat crewmember Grant Walkington attended the ceremony to pay his respects and was also presented with a long service medal as part of the service.

Grant, 37, of George Street, is the son of former Lifeboat coxswain Fred Walkington MBE and has been involved with the RNLI since his teenage years.

He was awarded the long-service medal for 20-years’ dedication to the Lifeboat, which adds to The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for service he has already received.