Raising cash for lifeboats

June Markwell with her latest book, Pilot and Coxswain.

June Markwell with her latest book, Pilot and Coxswain.

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A HISTORIAN is hoping to raise vital cash for a life-saving charity by spreading the word about Hartlepool’s maritime heroes.

In her latest book, Pilot and Coxswain, local historian June Markwell introduces readers to some of Hartlepool’s bravest maritime men.

For centuries navigating the treacherous waters at the mouth of the Tees Estuary was a dangerous business.

Over the years many ships were wrecked and thousands of seamen lost their lives.

At the height of its power, Hartlepool had five lifeboat stations protecting vessels from the many hidden dangers facing them just offshore.

It is the incredible bravery of these lifeboatmen and port pilots that prompted Seaton Carew-based June to write the book and raise money for the vital work of the RNLI.

She said: “My husband’s grandfather, Harry Cross, was a coastguard and customs officer in the early part of this century.

“My husband had told me about his exploits, and it was clear he was a very brave and daring man.

“One of the tales we look at was from 1912 when a Swedish schooner called the Presto struck rocks at the North Gare.

“The lifeboat couldn’t reach them due to the terrible conditions, but Harry managed to lassoo the mast of the ship allowing all but the ship’s captain to be rescued.”

June, who taught science for 23 years at English Martyrs and Dyke House schools before retiring, is a long-time supporter of the RNLI and was a member of Coast Watch, a volunteer organisation which monitors shipping and reports vessels that get into difficulty to the coastguard.

She has also been involved in the revamp of several memorials in the town including the Grade II listed High Light, which was moved from Seaton Carew to Hartlepool Marina in 1995 and commemorates the lives of those lost at sea in the First and Second World Wars.

Pilot and Coxswain is available now from the Hartlepool Maritime Experience, Atkinson Print, in Church Street or directly from (01429) 235063.

It is priced at £9.50 and all proceeds go towards Hartlepool RNLI’s fundraising efforts.