Local historian David Renno has just published his latest book, Diary of ‘Cyril and Lilian Bishop’ Hastings RNLI lifeboat 1931-1950’.
The lifeboat was named after Sarah Frances Constance Lilian Baldock, known as Lilian, who was born in London in 1881 into a wealthy family, and Cyril Duvall Bishop who was from a more humble background and the owner of a garage/chauffeur business.
Despite their different backgrounds they married in London in 1905 against serious opposition from her family.
Sadly Cyril died after six years of marriage probably from heart disease.
Lilian was to marry again the following year to Richard Cecil Philpott, a Brewer, who died sixteen years later.
Then under curious circumstances, three years later almost to the day, Lilian took her own life in 1931.
In her Will she bequeathed £20,000 to the RNLI and had two lifeboats named after her and her two husbands. The first was the Newhaven lifeboat ‘Cecil and Lilian Philpott’ and the second, by the terms of her Will had to be named after her death, was the Hastings lifeboat ‘Cyril and Lilian Bishop’.
The keel for the lifeboat that was to become the ‘Cyril and Lilian Bishop’ was laid down at J. S. White & Co. Shipbuilders, Cowes, Isle of Wight in 1930 and became the Hastings lifeboat the following year.
It was stationed here until 1950 when it was sold to an Essex marine company.
Over the following years it was sold a number of times becoming a fishing boat and a cruiser-sailer travelling around Scotland and Norway.
This Diary records the lifeboat’s rescues, its involvement during World War II as one of the ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’, its experiences while privately owned and the final journey back to Hastings where it was restored and put on permanent display earlier this year at The Bourne/Harold Road junction in the Old Town.
A donation from the sale of every Diary will be made to the Macbean and Bishop Trust, who maintain both this and the other restored lifeboat in the town, the Priscilla Macbean.
The Diary is available from Courthouse Mews, Courthouse Street; The Hastings Fisherman’s Museum, Rock-a-Nore Road; Hastings Tourist Information Office, Breeds Place or via the website www.hastingslocalbooks.com. [ISBN 978-0-9568669-6-7].
David Renno previousl published East Sussex Shipwrecks of the 19th Century - Pevensey - Hastings - Rye,
The lifeboat earned the name The Ghost of Dunkirk, for the role it played during the Second World War rescuing stranded troops from the beaches.