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Marking 100 years since historic rescue off the coast of Essex

Lifeboat crews at Walton on the Naze in Essex have been marking the 100th anniversary of one of the most dangerous rescues in their history.

The James Stevens brings those rescued ashore

Amidst 10 foot waves and in the pitch black of night 92 people were rescued from the SS Peregrine, which had run aground on a sandbank 12 miles off the coast.

The crew 100 years ago

The ship was full of war-time refugees from Rotterdam, on its way to London. Battling force ten gales, and 10 metre high waves it took the crew 6 hours to reach the Peregrine on board the James Stevens.

After three hours at the scene all 92 passengers, crew and 2 cats were safe.

"She'd broken her back, was on top of another vessel that had perished there a few days earlier, the sea was really rough, they didn't know how they were going to get to her to get the people off, the crew got onto the bow, it took six attempts to get in close enough to rescue the crew, suddenly a huge wave struck the James Stevens and knocked William Hammond over board, my grandfather pulled him back into the boat and they carried on their rescue..... One of the most difficult rescues that Walton lifeboat has ever done."

– Chris Byford-Smith, Grandson of Second Coxswain John Byford
The James Stevens at Walton Credit: ITV Anglia

Now the James Stevens has a more sedate lifestyle, taking visitors around the back waters of Walton.

Volunteers have raised 250-thousand pounds to ensure the lifeboat and its stories are kept alive.