A committee was formed to deal with this proposal, and reported that October that: "The sum of £4,000 (about £187,000 today) be voted to the Royal National Life-boats Institution for the purpose of founding two life boat stations in perpetuity..."
The committee asked that the lifeboats be placed in an area not already covered by the service, that the location for the stations must prove practicable for efficient operation, together with the availability of enough personnel to run the stations.
The village of Clacton-on-Sea in Essex had an immense expanse of quicksand in front of it, and was subject to regular shipwrecks. The next location was at Hope Cove, on the rock-bound coast of Devon.
It commanded the storm-beaten coast of the west, and also had excellent communication links with the busy lifeboat station at Salcombe. The craft were to be known as Albert Edward and Alexandra, and in June 1878 the official launching and dedication of Alexandra took place at Kingsbridge, Devon, presided over by the Reverend J Huyshe, Provincial Grand Master, watched by some 4,000 spectators.
A month later, at Clacton, the Albert Edward was officially launched by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Lord Skelmersdale, to an even larger audience.
Albert Edward had already proved its value, because early in the morning of 23rd May, only a few weeks after it had been delivered to the station, it was launched.
The brig Garland, on a voyage from Shields to London, ran aground on the Gunfleet sands and was seen to be breaking up and filling with water. The Albert Edward took three hours to reach the stricken vessel and rescue the six men and three-boy crew.
A Grand Lodge report of March 1884 contained the following item:
"That the sum of 50 guineas (£3,056 today) be granted to the family of the late James Cross and a similar sum to the family of Thomas Cattermole, two of the crew of the Albert Edward lifeboat at Clacton-on-Sea, which boat was presented to the National Life Boat Institution by Grand Lodge.
"These two men, after having assisted, the first in saving 116 and the second 33 lives, having lost their own in the discharge of their duty on the night of the 23rd January last, whilst in their boat endeavouring to rescue the crew of a vessel in distress, leaving their families consisting of a widow and six children and a widow and three children entirely destitute".
A subscription had also been raised locally for these poor unfortunates, and the Grand Master presented medals to the crew of the lifeboat.
Freemasons do not only contribute their money to the RNLI, but many stations have Freemasons among the crews, including Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
This station is the only one to have three craft and two launch stations, the first on the shore and the second one a mile out to sea! It should be pointed out that the pier at Southend is the world's longest, and the station is right at the end of it.
Of the 80-plus members of the onshore and offshore crew, at least three are Freemasons. One, Michael Patterson, is a member of the boat crew whose day job is as a supermarket manager. After 22 years in the networking industry, he joined as the station training co-ordinator.
Another Freemason, Jim Mackie, is the local press officer for the area. His day job was as the foreshore officer for the borough. He was in charge of a seven-mile stretch of the coast and the pier, ensuring that local safety byelaws were met.
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