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Retirement of Lifeboat Cox Branny Welburn, 1937

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Retirement of Lifeboat Cox Branny Welburn, 1937

Bridlington Free Press, Friday, 24th December, 1937

Lifeboat Coxswain "Branny" Welburn to retire

Long service and excellent work

Few, if any, people in Bridlington do not know the name of Ernest "Branny" Welburn and in the midlands his name as being the Coxswain of the Bridlington motor lifeboat "Stanhope Smart" is one of the best known.

Now, at the age of 62, after 41 years in the lifeboat service, Coxswain Welburn is to retire from the service. His three months resignation will be given on January 1, and any calls for assistance by ships during, and after, April will be answered by the Bridlington lifeboat with some other person than "Branny" Welburn as first coxswain.

Coxswain Welburn is the son of the late Mr and Mrs William Welburn, an old Bridlington fishing family, and from his youth he has followed the occupation of the sea. In his early youth, after leaving school, he sailed from Bridlington and Grimsby in the keel boats.

At the minimum age of 21 at which it is possible to become a lifeboatman, he was a member of the Bridlington lifeboat crew under Coxswain Robert Wallis.

In 1914, "Branny" was in the Merchant Service and at the outbreak of hostilities he volunteered and served until 1915, when at the end of the summer, he returned to England, and was for two years bowman of the Hornsea lifeboat, which, at that time had not been taken over by Bridlington. He was called up again in 1917, and served until the end of the war. Later he became coxswain of the Hornsea lifeboat.

Speaking to a "Free PRess" reporter, Coxswain Welburn said that he was appointed coxswain of the Bridlington lifeboat in 1924. In those days it was a sailing lifeboat, named "George and Jane Walker." The most lives they ever saved at one time was 11, after the three-master schooner "Mary Watkinson" had gone ashore just below Sewerby. Men were trying to salve the vessel when a gale suddenly sprang up. Despite the heavy seas, the lifeboat was brought alongside the stranded boat and eleven men were saved.

Other events which the coxswain recalled were the escorting of a ship into the Humber when they were out for thirty hours, the rescue of two youths out in a rowing boat off Withernsea, and the rescuing of two men from the motor launch "St Leonards."

In the last instance, the lifeboat arrived only in the nick of time, for almost immediately after the men had been taken aboard the lifeboat, their launch as overwhelmed by two or three big waves and was lost.

He has never taken part in any rescue bids which have failed and resulted in a loss of lives, which is itself a testimony of the skill and judgment with which Cox Welburn has handled the boat. Neither have any men been lost overboard from the lifeboat or sustained injuries in all weathers and in the heaviest of seas.


A lucky escape was described by the coxswain when he was a member of the new coble "Lily," with Jim Tallentire as skipper. They were trying to make harbour in a gale, but when near the harbour mouth they were swept behind the north pier. The rudder jumped off and they immediately let go the anchor, but the chain broke and they went on the rocks behind the pier. They were rescued by being pulled up the pier wall.

He was formerly the skipper of the cobles "Speedwell" and "Francis," and since 1923 he has been with the "Britannia." As a member of the crew of that boat he is remembered by many visitors to Bridlington.

Coxswain Welburn has rescued many people from the water and in 1921 he was presented with a vellum by the Royal Humane Society for rescuing a boy who fell into the water at the back of the North Pier.

During his youth, he was a keen member of the first Bridlington Rugby Club, playing among the forwards. He received several medals during his playing career.

He has often attended the Lifeboat Matinees at Bradford, and he paid a tribute to Miss Grainger, who, he said, was one of the best friends of the Bridlington lifeboat

Article By Mike Wilson 

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