The Origin and history of Groomsport 337 Pastmasters and Centenary Jewels
In 1856 the crew of a vessel wrecked near Bangor took to the rigging in full view of onlookers on the shore.
A lifeboat station was established at Groomsport to protect the entrance of the bay to Belfast.
LIFEBOATS STATIONED 1858 – 1920
In these 62 years there were 4 Lifeboats at “The Port”
1.Unnamed Lifeboat 1858-1867
3.George Poole 1885-1901
4.Chapman 1901 1920
These lifeboats between them launched 55 times and rescued 87 lives
Due to there unique design and Time line this is Undoubtedly the lifeboat depicted on our PM and now replicated with some refinements as the centre piece on our centenary jewel.
Research has revealed the origin, history, and present whereabouts of this wonderful vessel.
Chapman was launched 16 times while on station in Groomsport and rescued 18 lives
Research disclosed a very close and intimate connection has been established :-
Hon Secretaries of RNLI at Groomsport Station
- 1898 – 1900 Rev SS Holmes MA (founder member and WM in 1911)
- 1915 – 1918 Lieu Campbell Gardiner (founder member and SW) Chapman Coxswains
- Henry WATERSON a member of the lodge was her coxswain from 1901 -1916.
- Her last Coxswain at “The Port” (1918-1920) was Robert WATERSON also a member of the Lodge.
While we have the names of all her Coxswains these are the two we can connect to the Lodge.
“ADHAEREO VIRTUTE” originally(VERTUTI)
- What is the significant of this Lodge Motto and why is it on our jewel?
- Loosely interpreted “Stick together as a clan”.
- It has Unique Latin Character, Design and Spelling.
- It has been used on our PMs Jewel since foundation.
- Brother Robert B Gardiner (JW in 1911) was responsible for having the Lodge Bible rebounded and gilded with the Crest of the Lodge at the Constitution Ceremony.
THE HISTORY OF CHAPMAN
Chapman was the legacy of a very wealthy woman, Mrs M H Chapman of West Brompton, London.
Built between 1900-1901 on the River Thames by Thames Iron Works London.
- Type-Liverpool Class
- Measurement-35 feet in length by 10 feet in width
- Weighed 4 tons
- Built to RNLI design for Groomsport,
- Non self righting
- Oars- 12 oarsmen
- Cost £922 .0s to build
Chapman was built for Groomsport by Thames Iron works London.
Between 1896 and 1911 Thames Iron works built more than 200 lifeboats for the RNLI.
HISTORY OF CHAPMAN AFTER LEAVING GROOMSPORT IN 1920 WITH APPROXIMATE DATES OF EVENTS
1920 -1924 Resting :- After leaving Groomsport in 1920 and for the following 4 years she was held in reserve by the RNLI
1924 :-Re Located to HILBRE Island as their Lifeboat – retained her name Chapman
The following photograph was taken as she arrived at West Kirby in September 1924.
She came out of the reserve fleet and became the Lifeboat for Hoylake and West Kirby replacing “The James STEPHENS” on “Hilbre Island”
CHAPMANS FINAL LAUNCH AND RESCUE AS A LIFEBOAT IN 1937
1937 Final Launch and Rescue as a Lifeboat :-Her final launch and rescue was at 6.23pm on 23 July 1937 when she went to the assistance of a yacht called “Seabird” which got into difficulties on the Sailsbury Bank.
1939 – 1945 Became a Working Boat at Point of Ayr Collieries:-CHAPMAN was rowed away from Hilbre Island by he last Coxswain Harry JONES and another man called Stan BIRD to the Point of Ayr Colliery where she became a working boat in the colliery.
WHAT BECAME OF HER AFTER 1937
1945 to 1965 Re named HARBINGER – Used as a Pleasure Craft. After the war she was sold on and renamed HARBINGER
1965 to 2003 Re named PEGGY – used as a Pilot Boat.Between 1965 and 2002/3 she was sold on and re named Peggy.
RE LOCATED TO BURBO CAMP (Caravan Park) Whirrel – When no longer a pilot boat and at some point in the late 1990’s Chapman now PEGGY was purchased with the intention to restore and sail her at Hoylake sailing Club.
Unfortunately this failed to materialise and she was presented to a caravan camp for children to play on.
WHAT BECAME OF CHAPMAN AFTER 1937?
ABANDONED ON THE RIVER RIBBLE (Late 1990’s -2000)
CHAPMAN was again purchased by a man from STAFFORD with the intention to restore her. He relocated her to the River RIBBLE. He eventually gave up with the restoration and abandoned her on the river Banks
A gentleman who was aware of her existence for some years and with a particular interest in old lifeboats and being familiar with her historic background intervened.
When he first saw her on the River bank in a complete mess it was suggested to him to turn around and walk away but the gentleman was determined to own her.
CHAPMAN NOW RESTORED TO HER FORMER GLORY (2002 – 2003)
Restoration Process at CAMMEL LAIRDS YARD BIRKENHEAD:-
She was totally restored at Cammell Lairds Yard, Birkenhead and the Gentleman who restored her stated:
“I traced her and found her on the banks of the River RIBBLE , she had a tree growing out of her and full of rubbish, Restoring her was a labour of love”
Plaque on side of Chapman
In September 2003 Chapman was registered on the National Register of Historic vessels
CHAPMAN is the oldest surviving Liverpool type Lifeboat in the WORLD and proudly STANDS recorded alongside such famous ships as HMS Victory, The Cutty Sark and similar type vessels.