Friday, 9 January 2009

Jim Hardy

Although I never knew Jim Hardy, this 1969 painting shows that he certainly had the face of a lifeboatman. Born in 1907 he had the reputation of having been a true local character. He became involved with the lifeboat in the early 1930's and enjoyed a long association with the boat and it's crew. Although he was not eligible for war service, he left Swanage during the war years and moved to London where he built lifeboats for Merchant ships in a boatyard on the Thames. In 1947 he returned to Swanage and continued his work with the Lifeboat.

His commitment to the town extended to being a local Councillor and he sat on the old Swanage Urban District Council. It is clear from what little I know of Jim that he valued the concept of service before self (a concept which I tend to think is undervalued today), we could learn much from him I'm sure.

Sadly details of Jim's service are in short supply, but I did find this interesting snippet in the 'Complete Historical Archive of the Lifeboat Journal'. It is probably a service which Jim took part in:

At 11.25 in the morning of the 4th of November, 1951, the Niton Radio Station reported a wireless message from a steamer that a schooner was in distress sixteen and a half miles south-south-east of Durlston Head, and at 11.40 the SWANAGE life-boat R.L.P. was launched. A southerly gale was blowing, with a heavy sea. At 2.45 in the afternoon the life-boat found H.M.S. Redpole towing the schooner Lamorna, of Southampton. The schooner had a crew of fourteen, and was bound for the South China Sea to search for Captain Kidd's treasure. The warship asked the life-boat to stand by,' which she did, but at 4.20 the Redpole said the life-boat was no longer needed and she made for Poole, as in that weather she could not have been put into her house at SWANAGE. When she was about half a mile east of Poole harbour she received a wireless request from the Redpole, now four and a half miles south of the Needles, asking her to return and stand by again, but she replied that the Yarmouth life-boat could reach the position more quickly.

Accordingly at 6.10 a message was sent to the Yarmouth life-boat station through the Niton Radio Station and the Ventnor coastguard, and at 6.24 the life-boat S.G.E. left her moorings, with the second coxswain in command. She found that the Lamorna had broken away from the Redpole, had lost her masts and had damaged her rudder. The life-boat spread oil on the water to help calm the heavy, breaking seas, and with great difficulty, owing to floating spars and ropes went alongside. She was slightly damaged, but she rescued the fourteen men and returned to her station, arriving at 8.50. The SWANAGE life-boat meanwhile had reached Poole at seven o'clock. The Lamorna eventually drifted ashore five miles east of Bournemouth. The owners and captain of the Lamorna gave 75 guineas to the Institution and 25 guineas to the Yarmouth crew in gratitude for the rescue. — Rewards, SWANAGE, £83 3s. 6d.; Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, £9 3s. 6d.

Curiously the Swanage crew were rewarded with £83 3s. and 6d. while the Yarmouth crew (who actually effected the rescue) only received £9 3s. and 6d. Perhaps this was due to their additional reward from the owners of 25 guineas? I'd certainly be intrigued to know how this system of rewards worked and when it was phazed out...

(Quoted material is Copyright to the RNLI and taken from the Complete Historical Archive of the Lifeboat Journal)


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for that.

You´ve mentioned Jimś time as a Councillor and I´ve just got to whisper - y´know, it is Swanage - he was our only ever Labour Mayor.

Mumś got some of his RNLI history, I´ll try to post a potted history.

Thanks again.


(one of Jim´s grandsons)

lifeboatjohn said...

Thanks for that adendum Jon. Perhaps I won't make this public?!

I would appreciate some more details if you have them.