Clacton on Sea
                              EASTERN REGION
                                        01 October 2012


Sir Godfrey Baring

1952 - 1968


The Sir Godfrey Baring


The 46 ft 9in Watson motor lifeboat Sir Godfrey Baring named after the Institution's chairman.  The boat had been on view at the Festival of Britain exhibition during 1951. In her first year of service the new boat carried out eight services, six to pleasure craft, and in her second year six services, of which five were also to pleasure craft.

Coxswain Albert Potter

The Sir Godfrey Baring was busy on February 1st 1953, when a north westerly gale and a tidal surge created havoc all around the coast, the sea sweeping in to swamp low lying parts of Essex. At 3am that day West Mersea police asked for the lifeboat to recover houseboats which had broken adrift from their mooring at the western end of Mersea Island, in the Blackwater. While the lifeboat were out securing these, the sea swept over the sea wall and inundated the shanty township of Jaywick, just to the south of Clacton, marooning some 600 people and drowning a number of others. Rescue work in commandeered and borrowed rowing boats went on throughout the day, but as the tide began to rise again there were still a number of families in danger in the flooded area, mostly cut off in the lofts of their wooden bungalows.


The possibility of dropping rubber dinghies from the air had been discussed, but this proved impossible and the police asked the lifeboat to see what they could do. The sir Godfrey Baring was launched at 1:45 pm and taking a dinghy in tow, the coxswain took her as close as possible to the sea wall. Then by means of the dinghy, which the lifeboatmen had to manhandle over the sea wall and launch into the floodwaters on the other side, five men, a woman, two children, two dogs and a cat were rescued. They were taken back to the lifeboat and given hot soup and biscuits on the way back to Clacton pier.

The Sir Godfrey Baring had several times been called to the Blackwater to search for yachtsman who were lost after falling overboard and to search for missing boats. Owing to the distance from its station and to the difficulty of manoeuvring a deep draught lifeboat in shallow and congested waters these searches seldom resulted in life being saved, and thus West Mersea was one of the first places to receive one of the inflatable inshore rescue boats introduced by the RNLI to carry out inshore lifesaving work. This carried out its first rescue operation at the end of July 1963. And like many other lifeboat stations Clacton was soon to have an inflatable lifeboat as well the IRB.

The Sir Godfrey Baring's last effective service took place on 16th October 1967. The Lifeboat slipped her moorings at Brightlingsea at 21:20Hrs (the boathouse and slipway were being altered to accommodate the new lifeboat) after red flares had been sighted at the entrance to the River Blackwater. At the same time, the sea was very rough and the WSW wind was steadily incresing in strength. Visibility was good, in the spite of occasional heavy squalls. The lifeboatmen searched the reported area, but could find no trace of any ship in need of assistance. Then at 22:12Hrs, they received a radio message that a red flare had been sighted, three miles east of Burnham on Crouch. Usine parachute flares, the lifeboat searched this area and just after mid-night they also spotted a red flare, one mile west of the Sunken Buxey Bouy. They reached the casualty, the catamaran "Yana" with eight men on board, lying head to sea, yawing and pitching wildly, with heavy seas breaking clean over her. Her sails and running gear had been carried away and her engines were water logged.


By the time the wind was gusting up tp force 10 from the SW with very heavy and confused seas up tp fifteen feet high. With her searchlight trained on the "Yana" the lifeboat was manoeuvred towards her, Coxswain Ellis approaching on her port side. Using his engines and rudder most skilfully, he held the lifeboat in position while seven of the men were rescued, the lifeboat having to be brought round and in again, before the last man could be rescued, all eight men were landed at Wallasea Island at 08:00Hrs the following morning. For this excellent service, Coxwain Ellis was awarded the RNLI's Thanks on Vellum    

For the Sir Godfrey Baring she left Clacton and went into the RNLI reserve fleet. Clacton's next lifeboat was the Valentine Wyndham-Quin.

The Sir Godfrey Baring was on station at Clacton from 1952 - 1968 and after a refit at Rowhedge Lower Yard on the River Colne went on station at Wick, in the north of Scotland.  From Wick the Lifeboat went to Workington, Cumbria, for ten years. 



Lifeboat Name (During Service) Sir Godfrey Baring
Official No   887
Current Name Duchess of Cornwall
Class of Lifeboat Watson
Type of Lifeboat Motor Cabin
Length 46ft 9in
Beam 12ft 9in
Weight 22.5 tons
Draft 3ft 7in
Speed 8.5 knots
Builder J S White. Cowes
Date Built 1952
Build Cost £24,627 19s 5d
Funded by RNLI
Number of crew  8
Date Sold out of service July 1986


The Mi Amigo The radio ship Radio Caroline, which broke her anchor chain during a storm, being driven ashore at Holland on Sea, in January 1966.

You can see in the back ground the two cranes working on the sea wall.


Service History                                         Launches                    Lives Saved

Clacton on Sea          1952 - 1968                 226                                  106

Wick                        1968 - 1970                   16                                    25

Workington              1972 - 1982                     5                                      7


              My Thanks to Dave Nicoll (Falmouth Lifeboat) for his help with this information



Some Recent Photos of The Sir Godfrey Baring



Our thanks to: Andreas Aust, Sebastian Rösch Owners of the ex RNLB “Sir Godfrey Baring” for supplying the latest three colour photos on this Website.



This rescue took place on the 21st June 1953 the dinghy on the top of the lifeboat is the Tottie owned by Stan Camp



The following information and photo’s from Mr Deryck Hampshire

4th June 2011

In the early fifties I was an apprentice Marine Engineer at J.S.Whites and worked on her machinery installation from start to finish,
including sea trials.
I also helped prepare her for the Festival of Britain and attended the exhibition.
I have attached a Photograph taken at the Festival of Britain & two press cuttings one near the Royal Pier in Southampton,and
the other in Southampton Water on speed trials.
They were wrong about her being destined for Hull !!

Deryck Hampshire

Paul Evans 




The Sir Godfrey Baring restored with new name
An up date on The Sir Godfrey Baring.  After 6 years off shore for major restorations she came back to sea June 2011
The Sir Godfrey Baring is moored in Breisach, Germany  and she was named back after the restoration to Sir Baring.


Paul Evans 16/06/2011


The Sir Godfrey Baring when she was stationed in Workington (our thanks to Barry Smith) 01/10/2012



If anyone has anymore information on the Godfrey Baring I would be very pleased to hear from you



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