Charting the lifesavers

Paul Chrystal.
Paul Chrystal.
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THE history of Hartlepool’s lifeboat service has been retold as part of a new book.

The remarkable feats of the heroic members of the town’s RNLI crews over the past century and a half form part of a book Lifeboat Stations of North East England From Sunderland To The Humber Through Time.

It has been written by former town man and author Paul Chrystal, who featured in the Hartlepool Mail last year when he wrote a book called Hartlepool Through Time as part of a series on various towns.

Proceeds from the sale of the book, which pays tribute to the brave men and women of the region who have risked their lives over the decades to help those in danger on the seas and captures the ways in which the region’s lifeboat stations have changed, will be donated to the RNLI.

Each chapter is dedicated to a specific town which has a lifeboat station, starting off with Sunderland in the north and ending with the Humber in the south. The third chapter focuses on Hartlepool and describes how the Hartlepool lifeboat story began in 1802 at Castle Eden, when mindful of the great storm of 1785 when 33 vessels were wrecked or grounded between Hartlepool and Seaton Carew, it was a decided that a lifeboat be built for the Port of Hartlepool.

The book also describes how by the 1850s there were lifeboats housed at Sandwell Chare, the Old Pier and at North Sands, two miles north of the Heugh.

Other lifeboat stations, at Seaton Carew, Blackhall and Crimdon are also mentioned.

Also featured is The Great Gale of December 8-9, 1874, with photograph contributions from George Colley and Stan Laundon.

The chapter also describes how the nine-man crew of the Doris, a Danish schooner, was saved by the Elizabeth Newton lifeboat, which was replaced by The Princess Royal in 1939, whose first service was to go to the aid of the trawler Eileen Wray in December of that year.

The chapter also features a picture of residents collecting pit props for firewood from the cargo of the SS Otra which was wrecked off the North Sands on June 5, 1912.

There are also pictures of the Heugh Lighthouse during the Hartlepool Bombardment and as it is now, and the Breeches Buoy Practice, in 1931, which is a life-saving device including a line shot by rocket to a ship either from the shore or another vessel.

Paul, 58, a dad of three who lives in Haxby, near York, said: “Two hundred images supported by an informative text will delight everyone interested in the history of the lifeboat stations in these coastal towns and villages.

“Anyone who lives, or lived, in any of them will enjoy a nostalgic journey that takes them back a hundred or so years and shows them how things have changed.”

The 96-page paperback book is £14.99 and available from Amberley Publishing by emailing