Pocket watch awarded to Cromer lifeboat hero sold at auction for £1,300
PUBLISHED: 09:22 30 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:31 30 March 2019
A pocket watch awarded to a heroic Cromer lifeboatman after he helped save 30 lives at sea has been sold for almost five times its estimated price, after “catching the imagination” of bidders.
The silver-cased timepiece was presented to Walter Allen for his part in the rescue of the stricken SS Georgia’s crew off north Norfolk more than 90 years ago.
The historic mission took place in November 1927, after the oil tanker broke in two when it ran aground on Happisburgh Sands.
And now the inscribed watch has gone under the hammer at a north Norfolk auction house where it sold for more than quadruple its pre-sale estimate.
Telephone and online bidders vied for the timepiece on the second day of Keys’ Fine Art Auctioneers’ three-day spring sale.
The watch sold for £1,300 on Thursday, March 28.
Auctioneer David Broom said: “Antiques which have a local story behind them - particularly those connected with well-known figures - are always sought-after, and this watch really caught the imagination of bidders.”
Mr Broom, from Keys, in Aylsham, added: “The bravery of the Cromer lifeboatmen, and especially the exploits of the legendary Henry Blogg, are well documented.
“It is exciting to have an artefact so closely related to one of their more daring rescues.”
Mr Allen was one of the crew under the command of legendary Cromer lifeboat captain Henry Blogg during the rescue, which also involved the Gorleston lifeboat and a passing steamer.
The SS Georgia had broken in two after running aground, with the captain and 14 crew left on the bow section which was stuck on the sand bank, and a further 16 crew on the drifting stern section.
The Cromer lifeboat was on the scene for more than 24 hours, and eventually rescued the crew from the bow section 40 hours after the ship had run aground.
It followed an unsuccessful attempt by the Gorleston lifeboat.
The Cromer lifeboat, the H.F. Bailey was severely damaged during the rescue, and the two sections of the SS Georgia sank beneath the waves miles apart.
But thanks to the bravery of the lifeboat crew, everyone aboard was saved.
Mr Allen later died on active lifeboat service in 1941, aged just 49, while on duty with Mr Blogg.
He is buried in Cromer cemetery.
Do you have an interesting piece of Norfolk’s history? Email firstname.lastname@example.org