Lifeboat hero’s medal to be sold

John Marshall's medals and silver pocket watch are being auctioned.
John Marshall's medals and silver pocket watch are being auctioned.
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A MEDAL awarded to a lifeboatman for helping to save the lives of three men could fetch £1,000 at auction.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution Silver Medal was presented to John Marshall junior, second coxswain of Seaham Lifeboat, for his part in the rescue of three seamen when their schooner was wrecked near Seaham North Pier in 1874.

It was one of the earliest Seaham lifeboat rescues, as it had only been founded four years earlier.

According to the citation: “On November 29, 1874, the Wells schooner, Lady Ann, was driven by heavy seas against the Seaham North Pier and wrecked.

“Three of her crew were saved by lines thrown on board from the Seaham lifeboat, Sisters Carter of Harrogate, but her Master, entangled in the rigging, was too enfeebled to save himself.

“Mr Marshall went on board, but before he could reach him, the Master was washed overboard and lost.”

Now 137 years later, John Marshall’s medal and his silver pocket watch – made by R.Richardson of Seaham – are up for sale.

They are expected to sell for between £700 and £1,000, at Spink, in Bloomsbury, London, tomorrow.

Despite its age, the medal – featuring an image of Queen Victoria – is described as in a “virtually mint state”.

According to the 1871 Census, Seaham-born John Marshall and his Houghton-born wife, Elizabeth, and their children Thomas and Margaret, and Mr Marshall’s stepson, Robert Hunter, lived at Marlborough Street, Dawdon.

The sale of the Seaham lifeboat medal comes one day after the departure from Seaham Grange industrial estate of the tragic lifeboat the George Elmy.

It was today due to go to Fred Crowell’s South Shields yard – Tyneside’s last wooden boatbuilder – for the start of its £91,000 restoration.

Five died from the George Elmy – along with three men and a boy they rescued from a fishing coble Economy – when it capsized in mountainous seas on November 17, 1962.

Two years ago the George Elmy was spotted on an internet auction site and bought for £1,800 by the East Durham Heritage Trust, which now plans to have the iconic boat restored in time for the 50th anniversary of the tragedy next year.

The Trust received £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the remaining £41,000 has come from donations and fund-raising.