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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

Cromer lifeboat crew member Walter Allen. Photo: Submitted

Cromer lifeboat crew member Walter Allen. Photo: Submitted

Archant

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 Walter Allen watch. Photo: Newman Associates PRThe Walter Allen watch. Photo: Newman Associates PR

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 Walter Allen watch, rear view with inscription. Photo: Newman Associates PRThe Walter Allen watch, rear view with inscription. Photo: Newman Associates PR

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.”

Painting of the Cromer lifeboat's 1927 medal-winning rescue of the SS Georgia. Photo: SubmittedPainting of the Cromer lifeboat's 1927 medal-winning rescue of the SS Georgia. Photo: Submitted

READ MORE: Pocket watch awarded to lifeboat hero who helped save 30 lives goes to auction

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.

Painting by Mick Bensley showing Henry Blogg and his crew's 1927 rescue of the crew from the Dutch tanker SS Georgia. Picture: SubmittedPainting by Mick Bensley showing Henry Blogg and his crew's 1927 rescue of the crew from the Dutch tanker SS Georgia. Picture: Submitted

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 newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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