George Elmy by Robert Wild

George Elmy by Robert Wild

A giclee print by Robert Wild titled George Elmy.

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057 George Elmy print


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Giclee print by Robert Wild.

The RNLI lifeboat “George Elmy” was stationed at Seaham for 12 years, and was launched 26 times, saving twenty lives in the process. At ten past four on the evening of the 17th November 1962, the boat’s good luck was to run out. She was launched to aid the fishing coble ‘Economy’ which was in distress, in worsening conditions. The Economy’s crew were taken aboard the George Elmy, and the Economy foundered offshore from Dawdon Colliery. The lifeboat turned back toward port, and fought her way through huge seas. When she was within a boat’s length of Seaham’s South pier, she was hit by a freak wave and capsized. The lifeboat crew were lost, and all but one of the Economy’s crew perished. A total of nine lives lost, the coroner’s report makes for harrowing reading.

After years of debate and discussion, Seaham finally marked the disaster by naming the new docktop road “The George Elmy Lifeboat Way”, and commissioned a memorial that was placed next to Seaham’s Coastguard station

That would have been the end of the tragic story, but for the vigilance of a local Seaham man, who found the boat for sale on internet auction site Ebay. After some initial work to confirm her identity, the boat was bought and transported back to Seaham. The intervening years had not been kind to her, she served further as a lifeboat at Poole until 1972, before being converted into a fishing vessel. The local heritage group did some initial restoration work, and raised the funds via charity and lottery grants for the full restoration. She was then sent to Fred Crowell in South Shields for full restoration. These images were taken in 2009-10 when the George Elmy was temporarily housed at Seaham Docks, then later at Seaton Grange

Over the course of the next two years, Fred painstakingly restored the George Elmy. Parts were sourced from all over the country, and earlier this year she was finally made seaworthy again. Fred documented the amazing restoration work on YouTube.

On the 23rd June, 2013 on a suitably stormy day, the fully restored George Elmy was escorted by sea back to Seaham from South Shields by Tynemouth, Hartlepool, and Sunderland lifeboats. She laid wreaths where she capsized, and movingly touched the old slipway she failed to return to over 50 years ago. As she entered the old North dock, she was greeted with a fitting flash of lightning, and a huge peal of thunder.


The image is printed using Pigment inks, on high colour constrast fine art paper.

Please note: the watermark is shown for copyright purposes only and is not included on the supplied print.

Supplied rolled in tissue in a sturdy tube for safe delivery.


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