Film ID: NEFA 15762 Video of LAUNCH OF THE RNLB CITY OF LEEDS 1951 Visitor TabsDescription A short amateur film showing the launch ceremony for the Royal National Lifeboat "City of Leeds" at Redcar in August 1951. Her Royal Highness Princess Mary attends for the christening ceremony. The "City of Leeds" lifeboat remained in service until 1965 and saved 31 lives. The film begins with a woman holding a painted sign that reads "HRH Princess Mary Christens Our New Lifeboat ‘City of Leeds’, August 1951". General views of the lifeboat on a wagon covered in bunting on display in the park near the bandstand and temporary pavilion on Newcomen Terrace and West Terrace in Redcar. A large crowd are standing around the pavilion. A group of men in various naval and lifeboat men uniforms stand in front of pavilion. A Rolls Royce car approaches the pavilion. Various other cars pull up in front of the pavilion and invited guests and dignitaries get out of the car and walk into the pavilion. Princess Mary is introduced to members of the lifeboat crew. A number of men give speeches to the crowds. Princess Mary holds a large bouquet of flowers and steps down from the pavilion, getting into a car and driving away. General view of a clergyman holding a staff with cross on top. Another man, possibly the Mayor of Redcar, also leaves by car. The next sequence captures views of the lifeboat at sea. After the launch and sea trial, the lifeboat rests on the beach, surrounded by large crowds. The film end with the lifeboat being pulled along the beach by tractor escorted by two policemen. Context A lifeboat tradition in Redcar Jostling for a view, a big Cleveland crowd watch the Princess Royal christen a new lifeboat in Redcar. The camera is buffeted by a brisk wind as Princess Mary christens the first ‘City of Leeds’ lifeboat from the bandstand at Redcar seafront. The courage of these seafaring lifeboat crews are rightly still a cause for local celebration in the 1950s as the large and enthusiastic Cleveland crowd assembled illustrates, although the royal guest no doubt proved a big draw too. The boat, solid wood and without radar, was bought with £10,000 raised by the Leeds RNLI. The new lifeboat was stationed at Redcar from 1951 to 1964, launched 52 times and helped save 31 lives. In her book Recollections of Redcar, a local historian and fundraiser for Redcar lifeboats since 1930 when they were powered by oars and launched by horses, Vera Robinson MBE recalls the christening of the lifeboat as the Princess Royal stood on the bandstand, with the boat opposite in Titty-Bottle Park. ‘As it was to be performed by remote control, she appeared nervous of operating the lever, with the result she said “I christen this boat,” … turning to the mayor …”Is that right? ... The City of Leeds”.’ From then on, locals always called the lifeboat ‘Is that Right?’ Titty-Bottle Park was said to have been named by a pierrot, Wearie Willie, as nannies with babies in prams often sat there to feed the infants. Since the triangular park, which once featured flower beds in the shape of hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades, was replaced with public toilets, it was endearingly renamed Bog Island. The oldest surviving lifeboat in the world, the Zetland, is still housed at a former boathouse in Redcar, now a museum. It was built in South Shields by Henry Greathead, a renowned lifeboat designer, remained in service at Redcar for seventy eight years and saved over 500 lives on this treacherous stretch of coast with the loss of just one crew member on Christmas Day in 1836. A local farm provided up to nineteen horses for the launches across Redcar’s shifting sands.