Hoylake lifeboat disaster remembered through descendant's musical drama

Lifeboats News Release

The writer, cast and crew of a musical drama based on the story of a historic local maritime disaster have presented Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station with the proceeds from their performance.

Hoylake RNLI

Writer John Stower presents the donation to Hoylake RNLI in front of the 1810 memorial
The musical, "Lesson from the Past", was performed at the West Kirby Arts Centre in February 2019 and told the story of a young couple's stormy love affair. Amid the drama, the young man discovers that his family were involved in the Hoylake lifeboat disaster of 1810.

Featuring 16 original songs, the drama was based on the tragedy that struck Hoylake's then small fishing community over 200 years ago. On 22 December 1810, ten volunteers took to sea in an open boat to assist the vessel Traveller, which had run aground in rough weather on the Wirral coast. However, in the dangerous conditions their boat was overwhelmed by the waves and eight of the crew lost their lives.

Details relating to the disaster only came to light in recent years after research by local historians. On 22 December 2010, exactly two centuries after the tragedy, a memorial to the eight men was unveiled outside Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station.

The musical drama was written by a descendant of four of the crew who were lost that day. John Stower, whose ancestors were members of the Bird family, presented a £700 donation to Hoylake RNLI lifeboat Coxswain Andy Dodd alongside the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral, Councillor Geoffrey Watt and Mrs Anne Watt. The presentation of the show's proceeds took place in front of the memorial, where John also received a certificate of thanks on behalf of Hoylake RNLI's crew and committee.

Coxswain Andy Dodd said: 'The 1810 disaster is a poignant event in the history of the Hoylake community and it has been great to see the memory of those lost being kept alive through this show. We would like to thank the writer, cast and crew for their talented efforts and for donating the performances' proceeds to the RNLI, which will help us to continue saving lives at sea.'

John said: 'It is a great pleasure to make this donation to the RNLI and to show our support for this lifesaving charity through the "Lesson From The Past" musical drama. The history of my family and of the Hoylake lifeboat station are closely linked through this disaster, so I feel a strong connection.'

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Its 4,900 volunteer lifeboat crew members provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the UK and Irish coasts. Established in 1803, Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station is one of the oldest lifeboat stations in the UK.

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Dan Whiteley, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07799 851 316 or dan_whiteley@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

RNLI online

For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org.uk. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre rnli.org.uk/press.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,400 lives.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.