Emma Dawson and the Redcar Lifeboat

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The Zetland Lifeboat Museum is a familiar sight on Redcar Seafront, but it dates from 1877 much later than when the Zetland itself was in service from 1802 – 1864.
Zetland Lifeboat Museum
This lifeboat station and lifeboat were funded by the philanthopy of Emma Dawson and the United Order of Free Gardeners, the boat being named ‘Emma’ in her honour, it actually operated independantly of the RNLI.51B3tGc1f0L

There are several sandstone carvings, all of which are now heavily weathered.
Emma Dawson, Zetland Lifeboat Museum
The left stones are the emblem of the United Order of Free Gardeners and the build date 1877, with her intials “ED”
Emma Dawson, Zetland Lifeboat Museum
Emma Dawsons family crest is on the right, with ‘WH’ for Weston Hall her home.
Weston Hall
Weston Hall (Gordon Hatton) / CC BY-SA 2.0
Emma Dawson died on 29th October 1880, a memorial and stained glass window can be seen in All Saints Church near Weston Hall.
All Saintsjpg

All Saints Church, Weston (Gordon Hatton) / CC BY-SA 2.0

‘This monument was erected by her Redcar Lifeboat crew as a record of their respectful gratitude for the disinterested services, the eminent usefulness, and the long-tried and faithful attachment of their glorified friend.’

The ‘Emma’ was in service from 1877 to 1884 and the building becamethe home of the Zetland in 1907.

15 thoughts on “Emma Dawson and the Redcar Lifeboat

  1. I know from past conversations that the Free Gardeners did have an organised lodge in East Cleveland at one time. I will speak to my informant and get back to you if there is any more light to be shed on this presence.

  2. Weston Hall as far as I know is near Burley in Wharfdale, Otley way. Checking the listings there was a Dawson family in residence in the late 1800s, but what is the connection to Redcar?

    • Just a personal interest as far as I can tell.

      The Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 23/11/1877.

      Yesterday a grand demonstration took place at Redcar in connection with the United Order of Free Gardeners, the immediate order of which appears to have been the presentation to Mrs, Dawson, of Weston Hall, Otley, with a splendid jewel and illuminated address commemorative of the launch of the Free Gardeners’ lifeboat at Redcar, and of Mrs. Dawson’s munificence as patroness of the lifeboat. This benevolent lady, in addition to the sum of £100 given by her at the launch of the lifeboat in July last, contributed the sum of £140 for the re-construction of the carriage (which, it will be remembered by our readers, proved inefficient as originally built); besides which, Mrs. Dawson contributed yesterday £100 towards the expenses of the boat, became an annual subscriber of £10, and also gave a rig-out of jerseys, etc, to the crew of the boat. Mrs. Dawson entertained the life boatmen and Hon. Members of the Order to a sumptuous dinner at the Red Lion Hotel, at which Mrs, and Miss Dawson, Captain Dawson, J. Dodds, Esq. M.P., M. B. Dodds, Esq., Rev. W. Milburne, and other distinguished members of the Order were present. The meeting being of private character, the press was not invited, but we understand that the speech of the evening was delivered by Mr. W. A. Picknett, the indefatigable and enthusiastic secretary of the Free Gardeners, to whose active and persevering efforts the movement owes much of its success. In addition to the banquet at the Red Lion, which was of a costly character, and provided entirely at Mrs. Dawson’s expense, this generous lady entertained the fishermen and crew of the Free Gardeners’ lifeboat to supper at the Globe Hotel, where creature comforts of the very best description were provided, regardless of cost. The proceedings of the day included a launch of the lifeboat, which was successfully accomplished, and we congratulate the Order of Free Gardener and the crew of their lifeboat in obtaining for their patroness and staunch supporter a lady whose large heart and liberal hand are household words to Redcar

  3. And coming back, Picknett is a Redcar name – Picknett’s fishmongers in Queen Street, and Picknett Cottage down the Esplanade. Good to see continuity in real time……………….

  4. Knew the Red Lion (Steaks in upstairs restaurant, bikers in left hand bar), but the Globe got me. Found it was at 80 High Street, where Going Places Travel Agency is now)
    There’s a few articles in Redcar.org which seem to suggest a link between the Red Lion and the Globe. Any pics?

  5. Interesting reference here :- http://www.drillhalls.org/Counties/Yorkshire/TownRedcar.htm

    he piece recalls a Drill Hall located on Redcar High Street that was once the Globe Hotel. It goes on to state that it would have a familiar lay-out to the local men (Yorkshire Regiment) as it was the local bar before the licence was withdrawn in 1910 when the local authorities attempted to reduce the number of liquor outlets.

    The drill hall was demolished (date unknown) and the site is occupied by a bicycle shop.

    From Redcar.org

    28/12/1935. Lt. Col. T.K.G. Ridley raised comments at a prize giving 4th Bat. Green Howards that the ‘Drill Hall’ was no longer viable, and that new premises should be looked at. He thought the present Drill Hall should be pulled down and re-built. “It’s a disgrace to the town.”

  6. The 1894 OS map shows a hotel opposite the Swan Hotel which on the 1915 OS map is a Drill Hall.

    Probably that whole block of three opposite Wilkinsons. Will try to dig out a photo tonight.

  7. As it happens I was in Haddington just off the A1 in East Lothin (on the way to Edinburgh) doing a job last week.
    On the Market Place is a Pub called the ‘Gardeners Arms’ it’s sign is the badge of the United Order of Free Gardeners. They were first established in Haddington.

  8. I have read with interest the older posts and would confirm all that has been said of the Free Gardeners Lifeboat House. Things would have been very different if the RNLI had taken up the offer of the Free Gardeners to build a lifeboat for the Redcar people on the lines of the old Zetland. At the time of the offer the RNLI had placed their second lifeboat in the town ( Burton on Trent ) and refused to operate any boat not built to their standard self righting design. The Redcar fishermen never liked the first two boats and at times refused to man them, Emma Dawson was so determined to provide a boat that she promised the fishermen that they could have a boat built on the North country design together with a Boathouse etc., Both the Zetland and the ‘Emma’ were built at South Shields. Although locally known as the ‘Emma’ the official title of the vessel was the ‘United Free Gardeners’ and she was to carry two nameplates during her service.
    Incidentally it was Emma Dawson that officially opened the new Redcar Pier.

  9. Regarding the above posts there was always a very strong link between the Picknett,family and the Dawson Boathouse as Thomas Hood Picknett actually lived on the premises for almost 60 years. The Picknett name is still associated with Redcar Lifeboats with Mike being Chief Helmsman of the current boats and his father Clive very active on the Zetland Museum Committee.
    Regarding the Globe Hotel – When it was knocked down an old bench was saved and stood outside of the Lifeboat Station in Moore Street for some time, later the metal legs were refurbished and the bench then found a home in the Zetland Museum where it is still in use.

    • Thomas Hood and WA (William Allen) Picknett were brothers. WA Picknett was my gt gt grandfather and Mike’s gt gt uncle. All the other Picknetts were/are related.

      Some years ago, I came across the following article:

      Under the auspices of the Stockton district of the National United Order of Free Gardeners, a presentation took place at the Globe Hotel, Redcar, on Friday evening, the recipient being Bro. W. A. Picknett, P.G.M, and District Treasurer, Bro.H. Hamilton, D.M., of Saltburn, presided, the vice-chair being occupied by Bro. T. Walton, P.G.M. (Mayor of Stockton), and there was good attendance of members. – Bro. Green proposed “The Order and Officers, Past and Present,” and the Vice-Chairman, in responding, stated that he was pleased to be present that night at the presentation to Bro. Picknett, whom he had known for some 30 years. He (the speaker) had been a member of the Order for 40 years, and had filled the whole of the offices connected with the lodge, the district, and the Order. (Applause.) – The Chairman then proceeded to make the presentation to Bro. Picknett, which consisted of a beautiful album, containing a group photograph of the district officer, together with a purse of gold. The album contained the following inscription: – “Presented to Bro. W. A. Picknett, P.G.M., who for the past 21 years has filled the office of treasurer of the Stockton-on-Tees District of the National United Order of Free Gardeners. This album and purse of gold was subscribed by the three lodges of the district, along with many brethren, to mark their high appreciation for the valuable services he has rendered.” Then followed a list of the officers, &c. – The Chairman spoke in most praiseworthy terms of the services Bro. Picknett had rendered during the time he had been connected with the Order. – Bro. Picknett suitably replied. – The Chairman also presented Bro. Picknett with a silk hat presented by Bro. Scarth, and a silk handkerchief presented by Bro. Tate, jun., for having obtained the greatest number of new members (six) during the last twelve months. – Bro. Picknett responded. – Other toasts followed, together with songs.

      (Unfortunately I’ve lost the date and source of the article, but it seems the Free Gardeners had three lodges in the area with the district HQ in Stockton.)

  10. Redcar Sea Tragedy 115 years ago today

    The Birger tragedy October 22nd. 1898

    It was exactly 113 years ago today that the Finnish Barque loaded with a cargo of salt got into trouble as far away as the Dogger Bank and as her condition worsened, she hoisted distress flags whilst off the coast of Scarborough.( no Radios, Radar or GPS in 1898 )
    She was at the mercy of a strong Easterly gale and it was thought that she might head for the safety of Whitby harbour. The story was that rockets fired to alert the Whitby Lifeboat crew were misinterpreted by the skipper as warning shots, so he ran with the gale heading further north.
    The first sighting of the Birger was as she first struck the Saltscar rocks where the Captain ( Karl Nordling) and First Officer were killed by the collapse of the masts and rigging.
    Redcar’s old Lifeboat ‘United Free Gardeners’ also known locally as the ‘Emma’ that had given such good service to the town for many years had been retired for almost 10 years, but on that afternoon was manned by local fishermen and set out to help.. Unfortunately her years of neglect took it’s toll and as they tried to row through the huge breakers, oars snapped and the boat was smashed back to the shore, luckily with all crewmen still aboard.
    The National lifeboat “Brothers” fared better with the crew hauling the lifeboat along the beach, putting to sea, and able to row through the Mountainous seas to look for survivors.
    Some of the Birger’s crewmen were seen in the water by locals who had assembled on Coatham Pier. One of the crew was hauled ashore and another managed to grab a rope thrown from the Pier,,this one survived but 13 of the 15 man crew perished as they were overcome by the mountainous seas.
    A little time later the Birger smashed through Coatham Pier almost scattering spectators as she began to break up on the shore.
    Due to casualties being scattered over a large area it was not unusual for some to be buried in Coatham Church,( Redcar) St Germains (Marske) and The Holy Trinity Church ( Hartlepool)

    The Pier never did get repaired and later was dismantled,
    The only signs of the pier are now are the base of some of the legs which can be still seen at low water.
    The Birger anchor stands on the Esplanade on the site of the Redcar Pier and is a stark reminder of the dedication of Redcars’ Lifeboatmen and the volunteer fishing community.

    Fred Brunskill

  11. I want you to know the Dawsons still live at Weston and are very proud of Emma Dawson supporting the Redcar Lifeboat Station. I have placed another picture of the United Free Gardener about its business in the North Sea in All Saints Church to add interest those visiting it. They can see the memorial to Emma. Emma Dawson was a great local benefactress in Otley and was much revered according to newspaper cuttings.

  12. Pingback: Weston Hall, Yorkshire | Handed on

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