The Internet is a truly wonderful thing. How ever else would I have made contact with the great grandson of one of Walton’s first volunteer lifeboat coxswains?
A few days ago I received a message from Brian Polley in America asking if I could help him with names of some folk that appear in a picture on the Old Walton Archive. He went on to explain that his great grandfather was none other than George Arthur Polley the coxswain of the True to the Core Lifeboat and that George had six children all of whom had emigrated to America in 1911.
Unfortunately I could not help him with the names of any of the onlookers in this picture of the True to the Core on the Marine beach. Any suggestions will be passed on to Brian. Check out a larger image on the Archive web site here.
I contacted Brian and have learned a lot about the Polley family. Brian wrote "George Arthur Polley and F.G. Horton sailed across the Channel in the "Volata" on April 25, 1893 to Calais, France. He also sailed to Ostend, Belgium in September 1893 on the "White Swan", one of his Father’s Yachts with the following crew: A. Azulay-A photographer from Walton, F. Sparrow, his brother in law, David Polley, his Uncle and Wivvy Polley, his cousin."
I knew a bit about the White Swan and was able to point it out on one of the archive pictures but I do not know of the Volata. Can you help?
Brian later sent me this picture of George Arthur, aged 78, photographed with his six children at a family reunion in 1949
In Bernard Norman’s book, Walton-on-the-Naze in Old Picture Postcards, he names the True to the Core crew in this picture taken around 1900, four of whom are members of the Polley family. No1 is C Polley, No2 is A Polley (Coxswain) which I assume is George Arthur, No3 is D. Polley (Nightwatchman) and No4 is H Polley. Hopefully I will learn more of these other Polleys in due course.
These guys were real heroes going to sea in all weathers with only cork life jackets and sail power. The Illustrated London News reported in December 1905 that the True to the Core had saved over 400 lives in ten years.
All of this can now be expanded upon and shared between Walton-on-the-Naze and the United States of America thanks to the Internet